Play Ranitomeya imitator Call
This species is widely distributed through northern San Martin and Loreto in Peru. Though most widely distributed in the lowlands, many montane forms exist and can be found up to 950 m elevation.
These frogs are strict phytotelm specialists, breeding in Heliconia, Dieffenbachia, and Xanthosoma. Host-plant choice seems to be a function of availability rather than preference. Eggs are normally laid in pairs among the bracts of the host plant. Upon hatching, tadpole transport is carried out by the male, who will later help the female locate tadpoles so she can provide the developing tadpoles with unfertilized food eggs. Males are highly territorial and will defend breeding resources vigorously.
There are several morphs of R. imitator that are a conservation concern simply due to their tiny range sizes. For example, a certain ‘intermedius’ morph in the Huallaga canyon may only have a range size of a few square kilometers, most of which has been or will soon be converted to cattle pastures, banana fields, or coffee farms. Furthermore, many imitator morphs, particularly those near Chazuta, have been devastated by smugglers for the past 10 years.
Member of the vanzolinii group. Appears to be sister to Ranitomeya vanzolinii + R. flavovittata.