|Official Name||Dart Frog|
|Common Nicknames||Jungle Jewel, Small’n’toxic, Peqenven|
Dart Frogs are small amphibians first native to Teled Methen, but soon followed the spread of the Allorn Empire to now coat a significant part of western Aloria. They are best known for their bright colors, but also their toxin, which only some members of their many subspecies produce. They are also known for their highly cooperative mating pairs, who stay together around their developing tadpoles instead of immediately separating. While many subspecies were lost to the Cataclysm, many still remain and although the penchant for malice has grown in Aloria over the past several decades, the numbers of the Dart Frog overall remain strong.
The Dart Frog has had a mostly insignificant history across the many millennia of inhabited Aloria. Their earliest records appear among the Altalar, who deemed them gems of the jungle: bright, colorful, yet a danger to those who held them. While not all toxic, several subspecies were, and soon this knowledge became commonplace in the regions where they dwelled, as the Allorn Empire emerged across Daen and beyond. However, as the Empire expanded, the frog traveled with them, changing to suit the different climes and lands it found itself in. The frog’s toxic subspecies also found themselves hunted, sought after for their poisons as the Altalar began their decline. Be it from assassins and poisoners, or those seeking to gain invulnerability from this exotic method of death, certain subspecies were rendered nearly extinct by the time of the Cataclysm. However, with the spring of nature that emerged with the Wildering, the species was rejuvenated, at least in Daen. In other areas, exotic, rare subspecies were culled from existence by the destruction of whole continents and the rise of new landmasses. In this new era, Dart Frogs were largely left alone, freed slaves knowing well enough to avoid the toxic varieties, and Altalar largely dropping their political squabbles to desperately rebuild. But in more recent decades, the need for Dart toxins as they are known has increased, and those varieties of note are again pursued, not just by Altalar but now Ailor and half a dozen other Races to emerge since the fall of the Allorn. Overall, the species still survives across the tropical, jungles lands of western Aloria, and will likely continue to for centuries to come, even if yet more subspecies are lost.
Dart Frogs all share the same basic form. The only real difference being eye color, skin colors, and for some, their size. They sit at around two inches in length and weigh less than a pound. Their heads feature a strong arrow shape, giving them their name, with two large eyes sitting on top of a short snout. Their heads are attached to a simple body with a slight bulge to it and rest on four limbs, with three suction-tipped fingers on each that allow them to cling to their surrounding environment. The important part that many focus on with the Dart Frog though is their toxin, excreted to form a thin film around their body. Said toxin is a powerful substance when concentrated into those subspecies that can produce it. The first effect is numbness and then paralysis of the body. Next, said paralysis will burn away leaving a subject in intense pain, their nerve endings closest to the point of contact in torture. Finally, in those worst cases, the toxin leads to an agonizing death as an individual enters cardiac arrest. This second stage is the limit of what most people experience, as many physicians are aware of the effects of Dart Toxin and are capable of helping prevent the final stage.
As previously mentioned, the Dart Frog has a broad range of diversity, divided up primarily by color, though size can also be an indicator. Only some subspecies are toxic as well, with the majority being safe to touch and consume. The species also has favoritism towards females, at a ratio of one to five. Below can be found a listing of the various subspecies of Dart Frog in Aloria.
- Silverdart: The Silverdart is the most natural appearing of all the varieties, being small, having a color scheme of browns and dark greens, and can be found living in most jungles of Daendroc. They are distinguished by their single line of grey that runs along their sides of their body. They are not toxic.
- Muddied Darter: The Muddied Darter is a particular tone of reddish-brown with pale streaks of what could be called spring green along their bodies reaching back from the head. Their eyes are wholly black, and they are found on the mountain slopes of Daen. They are toxic.
- Azure Archer: The Azure Archer variety of Dart Frog is located up and down the eastern coastline of Daen, and is distinguished by its range of blue colorations along with splotches of black along its back, and areas of its face. They are mildly toxic.
- Bee Darter: Known for having a striped yellow and black color palette, the Beed Darter variety is the sole subspecies to exist in Fendarfelle, and are some of the smallest of the species. They are mildly toxic.
- Dicolored Darter: The Dicolored Darter is the sole member of the species to only live in Ithania. They are middling in size and have an odd color scheme, with blue legs and yellow bodies, all of it splotched with dark brown. They are seen as a strange blend of the Azure Archer and the Bee Darter. They are toxic, though only during the summer and autumn.
- Void-touched: The largest members of the species known to push past two inches in length, the Void-touched Dart Frog is, as the name suggests, endemic to Void-touched areas of Daen and The Far West. They have a stark color scheme, entirely black save for bright purple eyes, and three large black horizontal stripes along their back and sides. They are highly toxic, and many Kathar nobles seek to make themselves immune from the effects of their toxin.
- Extinct Varieties: There are a number of extinct varieties of Dart Frog still recorded and known to Altalar records. Some of the most notable are: the terrifying Yellowed Arrow, the largest subspecies and the most toxic, the Fruitlover, a bright orange-red that was completely nontoxic and tended to dwell in Altalar orchards, and Bleeding Breed, a variety with a black body but a shock of red around their heads, and highly toxic.
Life Span and Development
Dart Frog females lay upwards of 100 tiny eggs into locations that are dark, wet, or ideally both. These can be on the forest floor or high in the canopy, with mucus on a mother’s back being the method of transporting these eggs up high. Oddly, throughout the process of the opening of the egg, and the tadpoles emerging, the male and female remain close together. They do not provide food, however, as the tadpoles ideally feed on the tiny forms of life found within whatever water puddles or pools they are born into. Sometimes, females will deposit their eggs into the domain of the tadpoles, the male not fertilizing these, thus allowing their babies to eat a highly nutritious food source. Dart Frog tadpoles rapidly mature over the course of several weeks, ultimately emerging from their nesting ground perhaps as little as a fourth of their adult size. But still, they are now capable of traveling on their own, and at this point, the parents separate. This begins the event known as the “frog spawn,” where as many as one-hundred Dart Frogs suddenly emerge within one area.. Within a month, what Dart Frogs that survive will have reached their adult size, and after several more months, are capable of reproduction (the exact time span varies based on climate and subspecies). Dart Frogs are capable of living up to four years in the wild, but those that dwell in captivity can reach ages as high as twenty-five.
Dart Frogs possess minimal intelligence and primarily exist to eat, reproduce, and die. They are skittish creatures, generally unfamiliar to the presence of Aloria’s Races, even the Izu-Allar, and so will hop or crawl away when they sense such an individual approach. This is most prevalent in the subspecies that lack a toxin layer to their skin, as they lack a line of defense present in other subspecies.
Territory and Groupings
Dart Frogs are largely solitary creatures, ignoring other members of their species and lacking any territorial ambitions, save for when the mating season arrives. Males and females have been known to get into shoving matches, males seeking to possess the best point to sit and let out their mating croaks while females seek the best position to lay their eggs. Males also perform such wrestling matches, but once a female has picked her mate, there is no changing her mind, and other male frogs will not seek to fertilize the eggs of a female who has not selected them. These activities are far less pronounced in captivity, but can occur in large enough containment areas, and if there are females.
- Dart Frogs rarely stay toxic when kept in captivity, which has greatly reduced their interest as pets in the more malicious. There is only one consistent exception: the Void-touched Dart Frog, which remains potent even when held by non-Kathar or outside of Void-influenced areas.
- Some claim that Dart Frog toxin was once used in the ancient dart weapons of the Altalar, but such evidence for these weapons is scant, if at all convincing.