Many poison dart frogs secrete lipophilic alkaloid toxins through their skin. Alkaloids in the skin glands of poison frogs serve as a chemical defense against predation, and they are therefore able to be active alongside potential predators during the day. About 28 structural classes of alkaloids are known in poison frogs.[2][21] The most toxic of poison dart frog species is Phyllobates terribilis. It is argued that dart frogs do not synthesize their poisons, but sequester the chemicals from arthropod prey items, such as ants, centipedes and mites – the diet-toxicity hypothesis.[22][23] Because of this, captive-bred animals do not possess significant levels of toxins as they are reared on diets that do not contain the alkaloids sequestered by wild populations. In fact, new studies suggest that the maternal frogs of some species lay unfertilized eggs, which are laced with trace amounts of alkaloids, to feed the tadpoles.[24] This behavior shows that the poisons are introduced from a very young age. Nonetheless, the captive-bred frogs retain the ability to accumulate alkaloids when they are once again provided an alkaloid-containing diet.[25] Despite the toxins used by some poison dart frogs, some predators have developed the ability to withstand them. One is the snake Leimadophis epinephelus, which has developed immunity to the poison.[26]
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