Dendrobates tinctorius “Lorenzo” dart frog


Dendrobates tinctorius “Lorenzo”

Dendrobates tinctorius “Lorenzo” is a dwarf tinctorious morph purported to be from Lourenço Brazil. I don’t have any first hand knowledge of their true origination in the hobby – I only have anecdotal lineage data that traces them back to an import likely from Europe some time in the 1990’s. More recently Understory Enterprises (UE) imported animals from Europe around 2007, creating a second “line” of animals. Lorenzo are quite uncommon within the US dart frog hobby.

I am only aware of one US based keeper that regularly produces froglets, and animals produced by UE out of Canada. This morph really deserves more attention in the hobby; unfortunately most of the focus is on newer imports, rather than focusing on appreciating and maintaining what we already have in the hobby. As of 2016 my breeding efforts for this locale have expanded to include four non-sibling groups. I have a producing 1.1, a 1.2 that is depositing, and two 1.1 pair of subadults that hopefully should be producing in 2017.

This page contains information on regional weather, housing, breeding, and rearing of Dendrobates tinctorius “Lorenzo”. I’ve also shared many of my favorite images of this morph.


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“Lorenzo” size and coloration

Lorenzo are a unique locale of Dendrobates tinctorius – they are a dwarf morph, and appear to demonstrate sexually dimorphic coloration.

Lorenzo – one of the smallest tincs

Lorenzos reach a maximum SVL of 25 to 35 mm. Like all tinctorius morphs, males (25 to 30 mm) are smaller than females (30 to 35 mm). They are moderately bold, but not as bold as other tinctorius dart frog morphs that I keep. They seem to prefer foraging in the canopy avoiding bright lights. They are most active during simulated “dusk” conditions.

D. tinctorius “Lorenzo” distinctive crest

The most distinctive feature of the Dendrobates tinctorius “Lorenzo” dart frog is the bright yellow crest set against a deep blue to black base color. The crests vary from individual to individual dart frog. Here are close ups of my first four frogs (these turned out to be female – female – female – male):


Sexually dimorphic?

Or limited genetic stock?

What initially struck me about this locale was how interesting the crest was, but I didn’t take much note of it. I then had an email exchange with Martin from and he noted that in his experience, female Lorenzos tend to have smaller yellow crests, and in some cases, completely lacking a crest (a color form referred to as a “black ghost”). I was intrigued by the notion of sexual dimorphism in a D. tinctorius morph. As my collection grew from 4 adult Lorenzo to 10, I began documenting the differences more closely.

Examples of adult coloration

Here’s a nice example of two Stewart line animals (my JO-LRZ-2015E-1ss.1ss pairing). First, side by side you can see how the male (right) has more yellow coverage around the snout and down to its back arch. Also note the male has more bluish tints than the female (left):


This profile shot also shows the limited yellow crest on the female (left) versus the male (right). Again note how the male also has more bluish tones on its side than the female:


The difference in blues is more readily apparent when viewing the belly. The female (left) is nearly black with only hints of dark blue on her underside, while the male is vibrant blue:


The male also likes to pose atop his hut:


I’ll add more photos of my other pairs over time. They all follow this pattern of much more distinctive crests on the males compared to the females, along with far greater blue coverage on males than females. All my female Lorenzo are nearly black, though my Stewart animals seem to have more yellow than the UE females.

Regional weather data for Sao Lourenco

The only source of locale data for Lorenzo is from Using that as a reference, I located about 9 years of weather data from the Sao Lourenco area through NOAA. It was the most complete data set that I could locate. The main website for NOAA’s weather archive is here. I took the NOAA extract and cleaned up the anonymous values which dramatically decreased the size of the data set. I then got the data in the formats I needed, looking at daily views including the average, low and high temperature and RH value. Those values were plotted below along with the monthly statistics over the entire data set which gives us better insight into the typical monthly weather conditions for the region. Here’s the plot:











Breeding D. tinctorius “Lorenzo” dart frogs

Lorenzo breeding behavior is much the same as other tinctorius morphs. My group took longer to mature than larger morphs like Azureus and True Sipaliwini. I did not see calling or mating behavior until my Lorenzo’s reached approximately 18 months in age, compared to 12 months for larger morphs.



About my “Lorenzo” dart frog breeding project

Most Lorenzo in the U.S. hobby today are from Understory Enterprises, a line of animals imported from Europe ~2006. There is a second less common line in the U.S. hobby. This “old line” represents the first animals imported into the US in the 90’s. It’s likely most of the “old line” animals are lost, so we only have a few animals still representing them – literally TWO that I know of. My understanding is the old line may have dwindled to a single pair in Bill Schwinn’s care. It’s also possible that the European stock and 90’s US import were from the same original export.

Given this landscape of limited Lorenzo founders stock, most animals offered in the U.S. hobby have been produced by grouping siblings due to the limited number of animals available. My Lorenzo project has focused on drawing breeding stock from as many different breeders as possible.

I have been moving my pairings toward non-sibling pairs or groups to try to make stronger groupings of froglets available to the hobby. I have animals from Sean that are a cross between the UE (Understory) import from the EU (Europe) in 2007 and Bill Schwinn’s animals from the 90’s, and animals from Understory.

My Lorenzo project started in 2013 when I acquired 4 froglets from Sean Stewart. I followed this with the acquisition of 2 proven adults from UE via Zach Brinks (2014), and 4 UE juveniles (2015). They formed the core of my breeding project where I have been working to establish four breeding pair or groups of non-sibling animals. My goal is to have multiple less related pairs that are producing offspring that I can grow out and pair up, then offer to the hobby.

As of 2016 I decided to sell only sexed or proven pairs or groups.

My shift in strategy to move away from selling froglets is driven by several factors including the limited availability of this morph in the hobby, the sensitivity of froglets given their small size, and the susceptibility of females to bacterial infections. These characteristics led me to decide to further invest in Lorenzo and setup other hobbyists with sexed / proven pairs to [hopefully] improve the standing of Lorenzo in the US hobby.

Here’s a history of my groupings:

  • JO-LRZ-2014A – PROVEN – Stewart (UE x Gagliardo) male and female
  • JO-LRZ-2014B – 2.1 UE males with Stewart female #3
  • JO-LRZ-2015C – PROVEN – Stewart male with Stewart female #2
  • JO-LRZ-2015D – original B group reduced to 1.1 UE male with Stewart female
  • JO-LRZ-2015E – PROVEN – UE male paired with Stewart female
  • JO-LRZ-2015F – UE male paired with 2x2015E females
  • JO-LRZ-2016G –
  • JO-LRZ-2016H –
  • JO-LRZ-2017J –
  • JO-LRZ-2017K –
  • JO-LRZ-2017L –


Implication of limited genetic diversity

As I have mentioned earlier on this page and on other areas of my site, Lorenzo, despite being a very interesting morph [to me], have seen their popularity wane at different points in time to the extent that they nearly disappeared from the North American dart frog hobby. One dedicated keeper, Bill Schwinn, kept this morph going in the United States in the early 2000’s after their import in the 90’s. It is believed all remaining “old line” animals present in the US are represented by his efforts. Understory Enterprises has more recently imported Lorenzo from Europe in 2007, releasing limited offspring in 2008 and onward. Most animals present in the US hobby originated from Understory.

Despite these efforts by Bill Schwinn and Understory, Lorenzo have a very limited genetic diversity within the US hobby. Since most animals originate from these two sources, and since most hobbyists breed sibling froglets, we are left with limited options breeding Lorenzo.

What does this brief history of Lorenzo in the US hobby have to do with breeding?

Many hobbyists have anecdotally reported the losses of female Lorenzo of breeding age. These losses were attributed to the stress of breeding. One public discussion on the loss of a female was made on Dendroboard. In this case a necropsy was completed and the animal was reported to have died from a systemic bacterial infection. Fast forward to my experience, where I suffered the loss of two breeding age females in one day. Both animals were sent to Texas A&M for necropsy. The conclusion of the analysis was:

Conclusion/Interpretation of Lab Findings

Unfortunately, Mycobacterium spp. was not cultured successfully from these frogs, however, given the histologic findings a mycobacterial organism is still considered the most likely infectious agent. Please call if there are further questions.

First female

The granulomas nearly exclusively contain acid fast rods within them, indicating the likelihood of systemic mycobacteriosis. Tissue culture is currently underway to attempt identification of the infectious agent.


  • SPLEEN: The parenchyma is moderately expanded by numerous coalescing nodules composed primarily of macrophages,necrotic cellular debris, lymphocytes, plasma cells and scattered heterophils.
  • KIDNEY:Glomeruli multi focally exhibits mild to moderate hypercellularity with karyorrhecticdebris. The interstitium is mildly to moderately expanded by moderate numbers of macrophages with lymphocytes,plasma cells and karyorrhectic debris.
  • LUNG: The interstitium is nearly diffusely expanded by moderate to large numbers of macrophages admixed with occasional heterophils.
  • LIVER: The sinusoids are multifocally moderately to markedly expanded by numerous macrophages admixed with fewer lymphocytes,plasma cells and scattered heterophils.
  • LIMB (BONE, SKELETAL MUSCLE, BONE MARROW): Within the interstitium of the myofibers there are occasional granulomas characterized by macrophages with karyorrhectic debris and scattered lymphocytes and plasma cells. Myofibers multifocally exhibit flocculent cytoplasm and contraction bands.


  • SPLEEN: Multifocal to coalescing granulomatous splenitis.
  • LIVER: Multifocal to coalescing granulomatous hepatitis.
  • KIDNEY: Multifocal to coalescing granulomatous nephritis with glomerular nephritis.
  • LUNG: Diffuse granulomatous pneumonia.
  • LIMB: Multifocal granulomatous myositis.

Second female

The granulomatous lesions nearly always contain acid fast organisms within them indicating apparent systemic bacteriosis.


  • SPINAL CORD: Focally extensively within the vertebral canal there are moderate to large numbers of macrophages with heterophils and lymphocytes that surround the spinal cord.
  • LIVER: Multifocally, there are occasional nodules of macrophages with scattered heterophiles, lymphocytes and plasma cells within the sinusoids.
  • PERIOVARIAN FAT: The cholemic mesenteric fat is multifocally effaced and replaced by large numbers of macrophages surrounding areas of necrosis admixed with occasional heterophils.


  • SPINAL CORD: Segmental granulomatous myelomeningitis.
  • LIVER: Multifocal granulomatous hepatitis.
  • PERIOVARIAN FAT: Multifocal to coalescing granulomatous steatites.

This is a lot of jargon for a layperson like myself to absorb. Thankfully the pathologist I was working with spent time talking me through the implications of this diagnosis and any implications on my generic dendrobatid husbandry, and my specific Lorenzo husbandry. Our conclusion was that it is likely this locale suffers from suppressed immune systems due to inbreeding / limited founders stock in the hobby. I have not suffered losses in any other locales I keep (D. tinctorius Azureus, Bakhuis, Robertus and True Sipaliwini, as well as other species). It may be that Lorenzo females are more susceptible to common bacterial infections due to the stress of breeding / egg production. It should be noted that the most common treatment for bacterial infections in dendrobatids is the use of Baytril, which, unfortunately, is completely ineffective for treating mycobacterial infections.

This was an informative process for me. I have made two slight changes to my husbandry practices. First, I’ve dried out my vivarium more and started flushing the vivs weekly with 1 to 2 gallons of water. Other than that, I still clean all equipment with bleach between uses in vivariums, treat false bottom water with bleach, and use a fresh set of gloves when working in each vivarium. I decided against attempting to treat Lorenzo under my care for common bacterial infections – my thinking was I would simply be creating an environment to generate antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, so I’d let the chips fall where they may and see which females survive. This may seem harsh, but I feel it’s an important example for the hobby of maintaining genetic diversity in the animals that we keep, and an example of why we need to pay closer attention to the animals already present in the hobby.

I will add that I in no way advocate future imports of wild caught Lorenzo. We should have handled the founding stock better, and now it’s up to us to manage the limited number of animals present in the hobby as best we can to maintain this morph.

Dendrobates tinctorius “Lorenzo” dart frogs courting

I’ve experimented with a variety of groupings. In this example its the 2014A-1ss.2ss group with two females that initially fought for dominance. In general the aggression is more subtle with stare downs and body posturing between the females while they are courting the male. Here are a series of images of the two females in a circle with the male prior to the deposition of their first clutch, with the male moving forward to the dominant, larger female, with the subordinate, smaller female finally moving to a higher ledge:



A few more photos of subsequent Lorenzo dart frog breeding:















Dendrobates tinctorius “Lorenzo” dart frog egg development

Here is a current plot of the clutch deposits made by this trio as of July 25 2014. The light gray line is clutch size and the black line is tadpole yield. The statistics per month are summarized below the table. You can see their yields were low as they first began breeding, and the yields climbed steadily the first 6 weeks matching the clutch size by by clutch seven. There was one anomaly in early July when a clutch deposited in the leaf litter was attacked by a slime mold. The five eggs were destroyed within two days.



The average clutch size was 4 eggs, with clutches coming approximately every 10 days. There are two females in this tank, and they appear to be depositing at around the same time.

Here are some developmental shots of their initial clutches:


First Lorenzo tadpole from from the first clutch:


Unfortunately this tadpole did not survive. The second clutch did yield a viable tadpole (1 of 5 eggs), and the third yielded three viable tadpoles (3 of 6 eggs). Subsequent clutches are showing better development rates which is expected. Here’s a shot of 5/6 eggs developing in their fourth clutch:


This is a video of courting stills as well as a few short clips of the Lorenzo tadpoles in their grow out aquarium:

Assorted Lorenzo dart froglet photos:









Favorite Lorenzo dart frog photos

I don’t know if I can truly have one favorite photo, but here’s a sampling of a variety of shots from in the Lorenzo vivs. The contrast of their yellow/orange crests set against their blue/black base coloration is just stunning to me. Combine that with their diminutive size for a tinctorius and I was sold. They dominate my collection, and I am determined to see they make a resurgence in the US hobby.












D. tinctorius “Lorenzo” vivarium

As of the fall of 2014 I have two vivariums allocated to Lorenzo dart frogs, my original 1.2 (Stewart line) and a 2.1 (UE males, Stewart female). The vivarium on the left is the original 1.2 which has been up for about 18 months. The vivarium on the right houses the 2.1, and is currently about 3 months old:


Here are historical shots of my 1.2 Lorenzo vivarium. The begonia has grown in quite a bit, and the fern has been pruned back:


I included two photos side by side of my current Lorenzo dart frog vivarium. This is a heavily planted and vertically hardscaped 18″ x 18″ x 24″ Exoterra terrarium. The photo on the left shows the state of the vivarium from January of 2014, and the image on the right is from March of 2014. The main difference is in the growth of the upside down fern. This plant provides shade for the vivarium floor where the Lorenzo’s seem to spend most of their time. Here are additional close ups of the fern:


The last photo shows the shadowy area where the Lorenzo’s seem to spend most of their time. They do venture out periodically into the brighter lights, but mostly to catch flies. There are a few more fern leaves developing that will throw even more shade on the vivarium floor. At that point I may start thinning some of the lower canopy to encourage more foraging out front.

Here are other selected photos from around the Lorenzo vivarium.










Additional information

Tinctorius morph guide

I found this site (via Google translate) to be a very valuable source of information on D. tinctorious dart frog morphs in general, and specifically Lorenzos. The Lorenzo dart frog morph is still fairly uncommon in the hobby, with a few dedicated hobbyists attempting to broaden their presence. Here are some additional details that I had not seen in other sources (from

  • Females can have a less pronounced mask, and the “black ghost” form that lacks a mask is a female trait.
  • The local weather from their native site sees nightly drops in temperatures of up to 16 degrees (I’m assuming Fahrenheit, but that was not called out).
  • Successful breeding occurred at lower temperatures and humidity than other tinctorius morphs. This is interesting, and warrants an investigation into the regional weather data…I see another project coming up.




Selected Lorenzo dart froglet photos

These images are of my 4 original animals from Sean Stewart (April of 2013 acquisition) upon intake. My other two animals were acquired as 5 year old adults in September of 2014.


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