Do Dart Frogs Smell? Here’s A Savvy Response.

do dart frogs smell

For curious potential/current dart frog owners, this question might possibly come across your mind.

I mean, what’s nicer than being able to keep your pet dart frog in your room? To realize the potential issue, paludarium owners have to ask themselves:

Will it be okay to keep my paludarium inside? Do dart frogs smell?

To keep in short – yes, dart frogs do smell but it’s due to certain circumstances.

  • Toxin Secretion
  • Introduction To New Environment
  • Attracting A Mate
  • Ammonia From Secreted Waste
  • Uncleaned And Smelly Tank

While there could be plenty of other reasons, the list above is common.

In this article “Do Dart Frogs Smell,” you will learn:

  • The issues most dart frog owners are facing when it comes to smelliness
  • How you can prevent the smelling problems
  • Nitrates and paludarium tanks

Feel free to use the table of content below although I highly suggest that you read through the list of potential smelling problems since it’ll help you understand the cause of a dart frog’s smelliness.

Disclaimer: There may be Amazon affiliate links on VivariumTips.com – When users purchase through an affiliate link, there will be no additional cost to the purchaser. Instead, I will earn a commission from your purchases. 


General Dart Frog Information

Dart frogs come in a variety of species. Most of them are small in size, ranging between 1.5 cm and 6 cm in length. 

They have bright colors and bold skin patterns which makes them highly attractive.

That alone is enough reason to keep dart frogs as pets. 

Poisonous or Not?

Dart frogs are usually known as the poisonous frogs due to the poisonous toxins they secrete from their bodies in order to keep predators away.  

These toxins do not affect human beings unless ingested. Therefore, it is safe to keep dart frogs as pets. 

You might be looking for an answer to whether dart frogs smell or not to make your final decision regarding keeping them as pets or moving them into your home.

Well – here’s all you need to know!


Potential Reasons Why Dart Frogs Can Smell

It is important to take note here that dart frogs do not smell usually. However, there might be some conditions under which dart frogs or their tank smell.

1. Toxin Secretion

Dart frogs, no matter what kind of species, have poison glands all over their body’s surface. Thus, they secrete toxins. 

These toxins are odorous and have a pungent smell.

Even though it’s not harmful, it can induce vomiting due to its bitter and peppery smell. 

So when a dart frog secretes toxins, it might smell folly. However, this is not something to worry about. It does not happen frequently.

2. Introduction To New Environment

do dart frogs smell
Photo by Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay

When introduced to a new environment especially in an indoor, home environment, every pet takes time to adjust. The same is the case with dart frogs.

They will take time to adjust in their new habitat and so meanwhile, they might be secreting toxins in order to curb the threat of predators, whether one is present around or not. 

As they learn that their new environment is safe and healthy, the bad smell automatically goes away.

3. Attracting A Mate

Recent scientific studies have shown that dart frogs emit a pungent smell when they produce bacteria. Now, the major purpose behind this bad smell and bacteria is to attract a mate.

do dart frogs smell
Photo by Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay

Dart frogs usually undergo this process in order to find their mate from the same species. 

Now, where do bacteria come into question? Dart frogs produce bacteria when they are ready for mating as bacteria allow symbiosis and assists in the amphibian’s mating process.

However, these bacteria are not harmful to humans

The best way to get rid of this pungent smell is to clean your tank regularly.

4. Ammonia From Secreted Waste

When dart frogs excrete waste, it takes time for ammonia from the secreted waste to turn into nitrates and neutralize the smell.

Waste usually smells like Ammonia. Wild the stench can be light, a lot of waste will cause an incredibly strong smell.

So if your dart frog is not recently introduced into a new environment or is not undergoing any mating process, know that the bad odor is due to its secreted waste.

5. Uncleaned Tank

do dart frogs smell
Photo by Sanjay Shivakumar on Unsplash

Last but not the least, an unclean and smelly tank is the most significant reason for bad odors produced in the dart frogs’ tank. 

This usually happens when you are unable to change the water regularly and do not clean the tank frequently. 

The tanks undergo a bacterial cycle due to the toxins produced, wastes excreted, and food leftovers in the tank.

This bacterial cycle is another sign of an uncleaned tank and the reason behind bad odors. 

Regular cleaning can prevent this bacteria cycle from occurring in the first place.


How To Prevent Dart Frogs From Smelling

Now, it is extremely important to prevent dart frogs’ smell. It might not be harmful but is definitely unhealthy. 

You don’t want to feel nauseous and getting a headache all the time due to the bad odors.

Also, it is impossible to live with smelly pets, even if they are simply confined to the tank. 

Bad odors spread quicker in the air than good ones. 

The following are some simple ways to keep your dart frogs from smelling. If you previously had frogs as pets, you might already be familiar. Read on!

Cleaning The Tank Regularly

Regular cleaning of the tank prevents 99% of the smell. You must change the water on a daily basis and thoroughly clean the tank, at least every week.

Here are some tips to clean your tank or aquarium properly

  • As you will have to add new water to the cleaned tank, prepare the water beforehand. Add water in a separate container, remove chlorine from water and let it sit overnight. 
  • Remove almost all the gravel or any substrate you use from the tank bottom for complete cleaning.
  • Remove all the insects and bits of uneaten food as these can initiate a bacterial cycle
  • Remove all the plastic plants and any other decorations. Wash them properly before putting them back in.
  • Replace the gravel carefully.
  • Add newly prepared water to the tank and let your frogs adjust.

Introducing A Mate

Now if you have a single dart frog, you need to figure out if it’s time for mating.

To stop the pungent smell coming off, you need to introduce a mate so the process goes smoothly and without odors.

Adding Nitrates To The Tank

Adding nitrates to the tank speeds up the conversion process of secretions and waste. Now, the best way to add nitrates is to take a small amount of bedding from any healthy, established tank and add it to your new bedding.

What does this introduce?

This introduces nitrifying bacteria to your bedding and so, no more ammonia smell! 

Most of the time, you will have to buy some bedding from tank shops or a frogs’ shop. 

Another option is to add wild moss to your tank. It also helps get rid of ammonia smell and other bad odors.

You can check this awesome moss article I wrote about:

Do you have any questions? Feel free to comment below!


From VivariumTips,

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Dart frogs make easy pets as they require little maintenance. However, under some conditions, you might find your dart frog releasing unusual odors.

This might be a sign of mating process, an illness, bacterial cycle in the tank, or simply not the right bedding. 

Tackling these issues is not a big deal.

Make sure you replace the water and clean the tank at the right time and you are good to go!

If you enjoyed “Do Dart Frogs Smell,” you might also enjoy my other frog-related articles:

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