Doyle's Dart Den


Obtaining Dart Frogs

by David Doyle (02/19/2005)


The following section has information regarding:


Legal issues


Choosing a Source


Avoiding Dart Frog Scams 


Packing and Shipping

Legal Issues

Is it legal to keep dart frogs in your area?  This information, in many cases, can be difficult to obtain. The quickest method is to inquire at a local pet store. Depending upon their answer, inquire as to the controlling agency in the area.  It is a good idea to call the agency and confirm the information.  You can also check:

If you find information for a state,  please send me an email and let me know what you discovered.


Choosing a Source for Dart Frogs

There are several ways to obtain dart frogs.  The following lists the most used methods:

  • Local breeder
  • Local pet store
  • Breeder outside of your area

If possible, the local breeder is your best choice.  Normally, you will get good quality frogs at a reasonable price and the added bonus of being able to talk to them personally.  Also, this will allow you to see the frogs,  Often, the breeder will have various cultures of food for you.  The main problem is finding someone in your area.  First check the breeders I have listed by clicking here.  If you don't find a person there, try posting a message on one of the internet groups that deal with dart frogs.  For a list, click here.  As with any animal purchase, make sure the animals look healthy and are eating.

If you can not find a local breeder, you may want to obtain frogs from a breeder outside your area.  Click here for a list of  breeders.  It is always a good ideal to check out a breeder before purchasing frogs.  The best way to do this is post a message on one of the internet groups that deal with dart frogs.  For a list, click here.  It is in your and the other party's best interest to agree on everything up front.  Things you want to cover are:

  • Number, species, and morph of the frog you are purchasing (try to get photograph of the froglets and parents),
  • Cost of the animals
  • Cost of shipping
  • Method of shipping
  • If the frogs are dead on arrival for any reason, will you get your money back or other animals?  (now if you don't pick up your frogs when they come in or leave them in the car on a hot day don't ask for a refund)
  • If the frogs die or become unhealthy in a set time will there be a refund or replacement.


Pet stores are very hit and miss (mostly miss).  When considering a dart frog at a pet store make sure the animal is healthy, eating, and captive breed (avoid wild caught animals as well as dart frogs that are being kept in the same setup as wild caught animals.  They could contract disease from them).  Ask how long the store has had the animal and if it came from a local breeder or was shipped.  They will normally not tell you the name of the local breeder as it will cut them out of the loop, but if you buy the animal you can ask, then saying you would like to talk with them about the bloodline and maybe seeing their setups for ideas.  If the animal was shipped, it is best to let them keep it a week or so, to see if it was stressed during shipment.  Prices at pet stores are normally 50% to 100% higher than a breeder.  Keep in mind that the store paid money for the animal, may have paid shipping, may have lost some animals during the shipment, and is trying to make money.  But, if you don't have a local breeder and you can find a good store, it can work.

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Avoiding Dart Frog Scams

The number of "Dart Frog Scams" have been increasing.  These are cases where people take money for frogs and do not ship any frogs.  To help avoid this:

  • Ask for a telephone number and mailing address.  You then can use the internet to look up the person.  You can also use a directory assistance like and see if the address and phone number match.  If they do not want to give this to you remind them they will have to put this information on the package when they ship it to you.

  • Get their email address through their ISP.  If the email they use is a free email such as hotmail, yahoo, ect. try to get an email from them via their ISP.  This way you will have their ISP so you can report them for fraud if it happens.

  • Request references.  Keep in mind these may just be the same person with different email address but it helps.

  • Ask about the person on one of the Internet Groups Please keep in mind no one can make everyone happy.  If you get 10 replies and 9 say the person is good and 1 says they are bad, they are probably ok.  If 5 say they are bad, you may want to avoid them.

  • Do a search on the internet for the persons name and/or business.  If they have scammed many people someone will put up a page like "Do not buy from Joe Blow of Anytown, USA they ripped me off!!!!"

  • Pay with a credit card.  This way you will be able to try to get your money out of Visa, Master Card, ect. plus there will be a path back to the person's bank account.

  • If it is "too good to be true" it most likely is.

This is not a guarantee you will not get scammed but at least you have tried and you will have a fair amount of information about the person.

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Packing and Shipping
(Last update 05/06/99)

Most likely you will one day need to have frog shipped to you or ship them to someone else.   As far as the actual shippers, most people prefer to use Delta Dash ( because the package is shipped directly from one airport to another airport reducing the amount of time the frogs are in the packing.  Also Delta Dash will guarantee live arrival.  The cost is approx. $50.  But sometimes Delta Dash is not practical because of your location or Delta service to your area.  Some people have also used US Mail Next day service with good results ad a cost of approx. $15.  I recently found out that Next Day is not available for all locations.  Call ahead and see if they can do it before you pack up your animal or agree on shipping.  The phone number on the US Postal Service web page ( is  1-800-222-1811.   This is the method that 2 shipment of D. azureus were shipped to me and both came in fine. One thing to keep in mind is to check and make sure this service is available.  Recently I got to the post office here in Nashville Tn and was going to ship to a person just outside of Chicago.  When I asked to insure the package would be there the next day they checked the zip codes and said that it would be 2 days.  Charles Powell reported on FrogNet regarding USPS next day:

"When I ship my tadpoles I always use overnight post (U.S. Post office) with good results.  They have never lost a package,   but have delivered several late, but you get your money back.  Not a bad deal really and after shipping over 200 tadpoles I only know of one that died (and it was small to begin with)"

I have also used Fed Ex. to ship a frog.  I dropped it off at 5:00 PM and it was there at 10:00 AM the next morning at a cost of $22.50.  Now if the package is larger than 1 foot cube the cost goes up but if it is close sometime they will ignore that.  To check the service and cost go to  I would personally recommend taking the package to the Fed Ex main drop off (which you can find on the web page) so the animal does not ride in the truck anymore than needed.

Another method of transporting dart frogs is to carry the frogs in your carryon when you fly.  Now this has brought up numerous discussions on FrogNet.  First is it permitted?  Well if you ask the airline 9 out of 10 times they will say "No" you can only carry on dogs and cats.  If you don't ask and just put them in your carryon, most likely no one will never confront you.  It seems that frogs pass through the X-ray machines with no affect on the frogs.  People have reported that they have frogs that have been X-rayed and are fine and reproducing.

Now for the package.  Below are some messages from FrogNet.  The following is summary of them and what I have had luck with.
1)    First go to the local fish store and ask if you can get one of the coolers they receive their fish in.
        Try to get one that fairly deep say 10 inches.  These coolers normally come in a cardboard box.

2)    Next find a cooler that will fit inside the first.  Sometimes this can be a problem.

3)    Get a plastic cup that is approximately 1 quart (1 litter).  Use a nail or small drill bit
        to make a few small air holes.  Make the air holes from the inside to the outside.
        This leaves a smooth side on the inside.

4)    Place plant leaves into the cup and mist them and the cup.   I have used poho leaves and magnolia leaves for this.

5)    Now place the frog into the cup.  Place the top on the container and secure the top with tape.

6)    Place the cup inside the smaller cooler and use crumpled paper to pack the cup in place.

7)    Tape the top of the small cooler in place and run some tape along the seam so that it make the cooler airtight.  There will be enough air inside the cooler for the frog also if air can move through the cooler the cooler is not efficient as a insulator.

8)    Place the smaller cooler into the larger cooler.  Again use paper to serve as packing
        between the coolers.

The following are some post from FrogNet discussing the packaging of frogs for shipment.

Date: Sat, 02 Jan 1999 02:52:06 -0800
From: Timothy Paine
Subject: Re: Packing Frogs (long story)

Well the basics I got from Todd and have since many times had it
confirmed by frogs shipped to me and friends (mostly by people that
don't trust my over zealous packing request). Case in point:

Two weeks ago I had frogs coming from NY and explicitly stated how I
wanted them shipped. The shipper said no problem (well he actually
wanted to ship USPS) but they came in Delta and packed how he felt was
adequate (he was a reptile shipper). It was a Styrofoam box snugly
placed within a cardboard box with one heat pack wedged along 1 side.
They Styrofoam had newspaper in it but the deli cups just had a wet
piece of paper towel. All 5 frogs came in very cold, flipped over and
semi responsive. I managed to revive 3 but 2 were dead. I called the
shipper because live arrival was guaranteed and he didn't pack as
specified. He offered to make good and replaced the lost animals with
something new and listened carefully to my packing instructions.

So the other night I was at my previously mentioned homicide and calling
the airport when I got some distressing news from Delta. The shipper
shouldn't have been allowed to ship the frogs from LaGuardia because
they route through Cincinnati and that cold snap last week had delta
halting all animal shipments. They told me that they might hold the
animals in cincy. Well I soon found out that they landed in SF so I went
to pick them up. They were packed exactly as I requested with 5 active
healthy frogs that showed NO signs of cold stress despite the fact that
they were 10 hours in sub freezing weather.

This is how they were packed: large cardboard box with about 3" of space
surrounding the inner box. This space was insulated with crumpled
newspaper. The inner box was the same cardboard box/Styrofoam box as
previous but had heat packs on all 4 sides and one on top (of the
Styrofoam, between the cardboard). The frogs had some moss and a leaf
instead of simple paper towel too. The key to remember is all this
packing acts as a heat wick. That heat energy will easily pass from the
frogs to the paper towel out the deli cup to the Styrofoam/cardboard and
right outside. They trick is to break that continual chain of direct
contact with insulation like crumpled newspaper and air. Heat conducts
poorly through these (kind of like the warm air trapped in an animals
fur). The moss and leaf in the deli cups allow the frogs to stay off the
floor of the cup which may be colder. Most people may say that they ship
all the time with no problems and this is too much bother (most people
will also give you Delta horror stories too). That may be so but I've
seen some irreplaceable frogs (pumilio/speciosus included) lost. I lost
two adult female wc reticulatus last week. Even though the shipper made
good financially those frogs needn't have died. So as I just said,
knowing that Delta can and does leave boxes on the tarmac or sitting
outside for extended periods, then why not pack preventively? The
material amounts to an extra $3-5 and maybe 5 more minutes. It certainly
saves all the time and grief haggling over replacements and pointing
fingers everywhere (it also protects the shipper). When those
replacement frogs came in the shipper and I agreed that any losses due
to cold would strictly be mine (except for obvious neglect by Delta).
Sorry for the long winded response but those that know me should expect
that by now...


Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1999 07:48:57 -0500 (EST)
From:  (Linda Bandre')
Subject: Cold weather shipping

I thought list members would be interested in the recent results of a
shipment from Central Fla. to Denver Col. last Tues.We (Incredible Pets)
shipped 8 D.pumilio and 1 D.tinctorius in the following box set up-we
took a cricket box and lined it with styro and  placed the frogs which
were  in cups with 1 heat pack in this interior box with packing
material.  On all 4 sides outside of this box we taped heat packs and
placed this box inside a cardboard box with packing material.  The outside
box left aprox.6"-10' of space to fill with packing material (crumpled
newspaper) on all sides.  To see what temps the frogs experienced during
shipping we placed a Taylor mercury hi-low thermometer in the core area
with the frogs.  The shipment went Delta Dash with a transfer in Atlanta
then on to Denver.  Shipment left Melbourne Fla at 8:30 am outside
temp. aprox 65 F and arrived in Denver at 2:30 their time in temps
aprox. 30F and snowing.  Total shipping time -8 hours.  On arrival the hi-low
thermometer read 71F-78F all the frogs arrived fine.  Special thanks to
Timothy Paine and Ryan Carr for the design suggestions.
Pete Bandre'

Date: Sun, 13 Jun 1999 22:28:06 -0400
From: Michael Shrom
Subject: Re: Source for Coolers

Hi David,
    You can buy Styrofoam insulation by the sheet.  It can be cut to size
with a sharp knife to fit inside boxes or to line other coolers.  There are
commercial companies that make styro boxes.  Plastilite sells lots of
boxes.  There page is    1 800 226 9506  I have a friend
who works at the hospital and gets styro boxes for me.  I use free ones and
make others  out of sheets.  It is not cheap to purchase boxes.

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