Doyle's Dart Den
EPIPIDOBATES TRICOLOR (BOULENGER, 1899)
The following was published in the ADG Newsletter No. 9 May - June 199 and is used here with the permission of the ADG
Epipedobates tricolor is the type for the genus Epipedobates recently described by Myers (1987) and was originally called Prostherapis tricolor. The type locality, that is the locality from which the frog was first described by Boulenger (1899), is Porvenir, Ecuador. It ranges from about 20 to 25 mm snout to vent length. Epipedobates tricolor is found west of the Andes Mountains from middle elevations (around 600 m) to highlands and cloud forests (elevation about 1,700 m). It is a ‘cultural follower’ as it adapts well and even thrives in cleared areas around plantations, grassy environs around small steams and in meadows keep wet by irrigation runoff. It is easy to maintain and is a relentless breeder in captivity.
Description: Five color variations of E. tricolor are described here from specimens collected from the Rio Girón Valley, the Rio Poyango drainage and the Rio Zapotal drainage, Ecuador.
Rio Girón variety-This is the largest of the E. tricolor variations found. The habitat in which the frogs is found is around grasses or among bush and scrub around little rivers and springs at an elevation of about 1,700 m in the Rio Girón Valley near Santa Isabel. This variety has a ground color varying from orange-red to reddish-brown. The medial stripe is a creamy yellow-white and is always wide enough to be wider than the lighter white interstices between the stripes of the ground color. Most commonly the ground color is reduced to very thin stripes on the lower part of the dorsum, which gives the frogs a nearly solid yellow-white appearance. The ventrum is reddish-brown to brown with light blue spots and markings.
Girón Valley variety-This variation occurs in very moist secondary growth at low elevations from about 25 miles west of Santa Isabel in the Girón Valley to below the arid region. It is a medium-sized variety ranging in length from about 22 to 24 mm. Its ground color is deep, bright red with narrow stripes which are usually mint-green, but can range to whitish-blue. The medial stripe is often interrupted and appears as a line of spots. A number of aberrant specimens have been noted which lack a medial stripe, one specimen lacked both medial and dorsolateral stripes and therefore had a solid red color with only two white spots on the upper eyelids.
Rio Poyango variety-This is the smallest variety of true E. tricolor recognized here. It occurs in secondary and primary cloud forests at high elevations at Balsas in the Rio Poyango drainage. It has a dark brown (chocolate brown) ground color with relatively thin green dorsolateral and medial lines. Both this and the variety from Rio Zapotal share their habitat with other diurnal frogs from the genera Eleutheredactylus and Colostethus. They are relatively secretive and unlike other varieties immediately stop calling when approached.
Rio Zapotal variety-This broadly stripped variation occurs in secondary and primary cloud forests at high elevations near Moraspunga in the Rio Zapotal drainage. The lines are broad, solid and grass green in color while the background is a dark brown color. The ventrum has a "clown pattern" of alternating white and brown spots.
Lower Rio Girón variety-This form occurs in very moist secondary growth at low elevations in the Rio Girón Valley and cannot with certainty be assigned to E. tricolor as it may be E. anthonyi, but frankly we have been unable to distinguish these two species. The population was not included in the size range above as it is smaller than normal ranging in length from about 16 to 18 mm, they are reddish brown in ground color with light blue stripes or dots and orange flash marks. They call frequently throughout the day typically from an exposed and elevated place such as a log or large stone.
Care in captivity: Epipedobates tricolor can be satisfying
additions to any collection because of their interesting colors, melodious
call, hardiness, bold behavior and propensity to mate. Since clutch
sizes are large for dendrobatids and tadpoles are easy to feed and not
cannibalistic it is likely that the hobbyists will have the opportunity
to observe the full range of this frogs life cycle. As with any dendrobatid
the terrarium should have a permanent water area and be well planted.
Bromeliads and other water-holding plants will provide places for the males
to call and spawning sites for mated pairs.