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Ranitomeya minuta (Shreve, 1935)

Ranitomeya minuta

This ground-dwelling species, ranked as “least concern” (LC) on the Red List, inhabits the leaf litter of lowland and premontane rainforests, mainly from central Panama (Coclé Province) to the Departamento Valle del Cauca in Pacific Colombia, from about sea level to 1,100 m above.

The males reach up to 15, the females up to 15.5 mm in length. Their upper sides vary from dark rusty red to chocolate brown. A distinctive feature is a more or less well-defined, wide, dorsolateral stripe of a lighter shade than the dorsal coloration. From the tip of the snout to the armpit extends a yellowish supralabial stripe and there is a light yellowish or reddish spot on the upper arm and on the thigh or groin. Moreover, the frog has a short, yellowish lateral stripe. Its ventral side is deep dark brown, with light blue dots or reticulated pattern.

Clutches consist of up to four eggs and are deposited in the leaf litter. The male later relocates the larvae one by one to the water-filled leaf axiles of bromeliads and other plants, sometimes man-made pieces of bamboo are also accepted. After the relocation, te parents provide no further aid.

Ranitomeya minuta is so common in some parts of eastern central Panama that you have to be extremely careful not to step on a frog when walking through the leaf litter of the primary forests. This local abundance of the species in comparison to the rather rare Dendrobates auratus is believed to be caused by the large number of miniature phytotelmata in the leaf axiles of plants available for R. minuta whereas the tree holes required for breeding by D. auratus are relatively rare.

For breeding, the most suitable is a small terrarium of either Type II or IV, in which the floor should always be covered by a layer of leaf litter. In addition, some bromeliads, patches of dense vegetation and a small pool are often regarded as the most important features of the terrarium. Nevertheless, the frogs tend to present themselves as very shy in a terrarium. Black film containers are acceptable as spawning sites, and the larvae are usually then relocated to bromeliads. Propagation was then successful if the larvae were removed and raised individually in bowls outside the terrarium.

The frogs consume only the smallest of feeder animals, such as springtails, aphids or small fruit flies.