National Geographic : 1995 May
Courtship and care All puffed up, a male Dendrobates pumilio (right) courts a female with a song of insect like chirps. The most aggressive males pounce on any others that dare to move. This forces subordinates to freeze. A dominant male (bottom middle, at right) pushes an im mobile rival away from the female at rear. After fertilization, the female is left to guard her batch of 2to 16 eggs hidden in leaf lit ter on the forest floor. When the tadpoles hatch, she backs in among them, and one wriggles up onto her back (bottom right). On a rare trip away from the forest floor she climbs into the canopy.The ascent is arduous, for most poison-dart frogs lack the well-developed toe pads of true tree frogs. She seeks little pools of water cupped in the leaves of certain plants. Into one of these pools she depos its the first tadpole. Then she goes back for another. And another. One by one she carries her tad poles to private water holes in the canopy. In most species the male cares for eggs and tadpoles. When a D. auratus father visits his young, researcher Kyle Summers (below) follows to study pater nal behavior.