Jan 04

Deadly & Awesome Animals of Colombia

by in Colombia, Going Nomadic, South America

I love Colombia. I also love creepy, poisonous and potentially deadly creatures of all kinds. So being in the Colombian sorta-jungly mountain town of El Tigre, I’m getting to see a bunch of creepy, crawly, potentially dangerous (and some highly deadly poisonous) animals. There are also some not deadly; but just cool as shit creatures here too.

Take this first animal.

poison dart frog in colombia, yellow stripped poison frog


This is one of the many species of poison dart (or poison arrow) frogs that inhabit South America; called the Yellow Striped Poison Frog. Touching the backs of these creatures is enough to kill 10 humans in one shot.  The dart frog’s derive their poison by eating toxic ants and insects in the wild, and secrete this poison through their backs.  Since the deadly toxins are based on the frog’s diet, you can breed these frogs (and all poison frogs) in captivity without them being toxic (as long as you don’t feed them toxic insects.).  Different frogs have different toxins; and this frog is not the most poisonous of  all the species.

Though I’m not about to go touching one of these to see just how toxic it is.

Then there is this other amphibian –


cane toad in colombia

When I first saw this I was like ‘WOW…That looks like one of those cane toads in Australia that secrete that poison stuff from there backs when you squeeze them”.  Never thought about the fact that cane toads are not actually from Australia.  Turns out, they are native from the Rio Grande valley in southern Texas, through Central America and into parts of northern South America (like Colombia).

This toad does secret a milky white liquid from its back that is poisonous if ingested. This toad is also what has sparked some great TV episodes of The Simpsons and The Family Guy.  The milky substance contains bufotenin, which is a hallucinogenic drug…but this substance is only a tiny part of the mix of toxins that make up the frog’s back-milk.  Actually licking the toads (or eating them or their tadpoles) will most likely just cause severe illness and death (but hey, you’ll be high as a kite while you writhe in pain and slowly die!)

These next creatures are not deadly at all.  But once a year, they swarm, and you are very likely to choke on them if you attempt to breath, choke and get pretty grossed out that you just swallowed a


flying termite swarm in colombia

Termites are all over the Colombian woodland jungles.
(surprised, right?)
But unlike in the states, these termites are huge and golden-colored.  And they swarm.  About once a year they hatch and swarm.  They have these really fragile wings and take each other out while they collide around all nimbly-pimbly into each other.  They aren’t dangerous; except to each other and the trees, but they do make a giant mess when the evening is up.

But if a million small bugs flying at your face isn’t your thing, how about ONE GIANT ONE:


hold a giant moth in you hand, colombia

I have no idea what species this is, all I know is that this moth is as big as my hand, and one flying at your face unexpectedly will freak you out.  On the other hand, if it is just chilling on the porch, this moth is really cool to pick up and play with.  Well, till it flies at your face again, and you go flailing your arms and screeching like a girl.  (P.S.  There are ones bigger than this too.  I saw a couple moths that I thought were bats at first).

But if you don’t like Gigantor moths, how about this moth…



bright orange moth in colombia

The petite, orange moth, I just found amazing.  I have not enhanced the color on this moth at all either.  I also did not touch this moth. I’ve seen enough discovery channel to know that it’s just safer to not touch any brightly colored animal you see in the jungle.  I wasn’t risking touching even this moth once I found out about the poison dart frogs.

I’m good.  Thanks.

There are also some pretty creatures I saw in Colombia..like


beautiful blue and brown butterfly in colombia

There are some beautiful, vibrant butterflies in Colombia.  This is just one of the only butterflies I got a photo of.  I’ve never seen such intricate designs on the wings of a butterfly as I have in the above photo.


This amphibian is just amazing.  I have not been able to find out the actual name or species, so if you know, I’m all ears.  All I know is the following photos are all of the same type of frog (the bottom two of the same frog)


white color changing frog from colombia sleeping on wall

off white color changing frog from colombia, sleeping on leaf

light brown color changing frog from colombia, on a photo frame

brown color changing frog, sleeping on photo frame

As you can see, they change color.  The last 2 photos are of the same frog about 3 minutes apart.  No one could tell me the real name of the frog, just that, “They show up in winter and sleep on the walls”.   And they do just that.  You walk outside, and there is a frog sleeping vertically on the wall.  And they change color.  I like things that change color.  

Also, these frogs are safe to hold.


The next awesome animal is an


locust in colombia

Ok, you are like, “What? A locust?”, but I have never seen a locust before, so I think they are cool.  They look like little grasshoppers, but use their front feet as tiny hands.  I watched this one, I think bathe itself.  I don’t know.  But I think they are cute.  And I love its green eyes.

And I am showing you this harmless little locust to lull you into a false sense of security before I spring the next awesome animal on you…the


pit viper from Colombia. This one was caught on a farm in Colombia.

Equis is the local name for this snake, which is a type of  pit viper, who is highly venomous, aggressive, and lives throughout the countryside of El Tigre.  These snakes have huge fangs, grow about 6 feet long (2 meters), and are highly deadly (some of this due to the distance to get to antivenom in rural communities). 

These snakes attack for no reason, and a bite commonly results in loss of the bitten limb.  Locals claim a bite can quickly cause you to be unable to breathe (due to hemotoxin in the venom).  Either way, even with quick antivenom, it is common to still loose a limb as the venom causes necrosis.

Basically, seeing these is awesome.  I never want to get bit by one.


The last creature I have to show you I have no idea what it is, so I am just going to call it the..


fanged, winged bug from El Tigre, Colombia

I don’t know what this is, but I am in love with it.  It’s long, thin, winged, clings to walls, has eyes on the sides of its face, and has giant fanged jaws of terror! (Seriously, what the hell  are those things?) 

If anyone happens to have any clue what this bug is, please tell me.  I am dying to know.  It is just a giant ball of awesome!




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15 Responses to “Deadly & Awesome Animals of Colombia”

  1. From Jerry P:

    Awesome pictures! Thanks for sharing! I have a degree in wildlife biology, focusing in herpetology.

    I will be traveling to Colombia for a month and I am looking for good field guides that identify the reptiles and amphibians of the country. Do you have any good recommendations?


    Posted on 2014/02/22 at 10:22 AM #
    • From Danib:

      I googled most of these, and have had a few people correct me, or identify the animal for me. I have not found a good resource yet.

      On that note, AWESOME DEGREE! Are you going to Colombia to study, research, or just for fun? Either way you will have a blast, and I hope you can get into the countryside to see some of these animals!

      Posted on 2014/02/28 at 5:25 PM #
      • From Jerry P:

        Actually, my undergraduate is in wildlife and fisheries biology and management with a focus in herpetology, however I am currently finishing up a masters degree in filmmaking with a focus in documentary.

        I am heading to Colombia for 28 days to film a documentary about amphibian conservation. We will be heading deep into some of the jungles down there to film some endangered poison dart frogs (among other herps too of course)!

        We are flying out this week, though I still have not been able to find a good herp guide. But we are meeting up with some biologists who have a guide they created themselves. Now all I will have to do is translate it from Spanish. Oh well, at least the scientific names are the same, right!

        Posted on 2014/04/13 at 10:46 PM #
        • From Danib:

          That sounds amazing!!!! Yea, I had a lot of trouble identifying some things, and many bugs and animals they have no names for, or have local names that are no help in identification.

          I can’t wait to see this documentary! I love documentaries! :)

          Posted on 2014/04/14 at 12:44 PM #
  2. From Jay:

    The WTF bug and Mark’s bug are the same bug. The one Mark posted is the male while the original posted image it of the female. What it is, is an adult Dobsonfly. While they do bite if mishandled they are relatively harmless. The females bite is by far the worst, Imagine your best drinking buddy taking a pair of tweasers and and pinching you with them. The male Dobsonfly can and will bite but those long tusklike pincers he has are pretty useless, in fact they use those to hold their women during breeding.

    Posted on 2013/07/08 at 11:08 AM #
    • From Danib:

      They are awesome and terrifying looking! It’s good they are mostly harmless though!

      Posted on 2013/07/08 at 3:54 PM #
  3. From Mark:

    Don’t know if the bug that landed on my car today is the same as your “WTF Bug,” but it looks just as evil.

    in Maryland/USA

    Posted on 2013/06/27 at 9:46 PM #
    • From Danib:

      OMG THAT IS AWESOME!!!! And yea, that looks really really similar. I think the mouths are a bit different, but they have to be related. I think it is a Dobsonflies, from your comments. I just Googled it, and the images look like our bug! :D YEA!!!!!

      Posted on 2013/06/28 at 4:37 PM #
  4. From Forest Parks:

    And you now expect me to add this place to my travel itinerary!!!!! ;)

    Posted on 2013/01/06 at 6:50 PM #
    • From Dani Blanchette:

      Wait, this DOESN’T make you want to run down there? BUT THESE ANIMALS ARE AWESOME! :)

      Don’t worry. You wont see any of these in Medellin. Except for maybe the butterfly. I don’t know about Cartagena.

      Posted on 2013/01/06 at 10:58 PM #
  5. From Koren @ City Gal:

    I am heading to Colombia for the first time next month – will have to make sure to watch out for these buggers!

    Posted on 2013/01/04 at 10:45 AM #
    • From Danib:

      Awesome. Where in Colombia? I’ll be back there next month too.

      Posted on 2013/01/04 at 11:35 AM #
    • From Danib:

      Awesome! Where in Colombia? I’ll be back there next month too!

      Posted on 2013/01/04 at 11:35 AM #


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