I began thinking about keeping “highland lamasi” in 2014. All my prior experience in dart frogs was with larger D. tinctorius or A. galactanotus. I have a relatively small footprint collection, so my goal was to focus my efforts on frogs that I thought were pretty neat, and that needed special attention in the hobby. R. lamasi seemed to fit the bill.
Highland lamasi have broad yellow stripes, blue legs, and can be found breeding in bamboo stands at elevations of about 1500 m near Tingo Maria in Peru. The most confusing aspect of this frog is it’s name. It originally went by “highland lamasi” or “standard lamasi” within the hobby, based on its original classification in 1992 as Dendrobates lamasi. Over the years revisions to the frogs classification have been made, leading to a shift to Rantimeya lamasi, then Rantimeya sirensis. The hobby name continues to shift between “standard lamasi”, “highland lamasi”, “highland sirensis”, “Pasco” and ‘Tingo Maria”.
I purchased my animals in the spring of 2015, obtaining three animals from Rich Frye, and three more animals from Zach Brinks. Though most hobbyists keep these animals in pairs or small groups, I opted to go with 6 animals in a larger enclosure to increase the likelihood of breeding. This page details my experiences with this morph.
Highland sirensis / lamasi’s status
It is believed that R. sirensis “Tingo Maria” or the Highland lamasi is extinct in the wild. Two field studies in the 2000’s found no animals in the original range of this once fairly widespread morph. It is believed that over collection in the 90’s and 2000’s led to their decline. A limited number of animals remain in collections in the US and EU. My animals are captive bred offspring from a very limited founders stock.
This morph is disturbingly rare and does not seem to be nearly as common as reported in the 1980s and 90s. Smugglers have been hitting this populations hard for several years and appear to have made a significant negative impact on wild populations. Other morphs, such as the lowland ‘Panguana’ morphs, have been similarly targeted by smugglers. During an expedition to the Cordillera El Sira, we were stunned to learn from locals that not 1 month prior to our arrival, the area had been visited by a group of Europeans buying hundreds of frogs from the locals at about 5 soles ($1.50) per frog. Those that did not die on their way to Europe have been recently cropping up at frog shows, diminishing greatly the potential for forest conservation projects in these areas.
Some Ranitomeya sirensis / lamasi photos
These are my first thumbnail frogs and I’m actually quite surprised at how visible they are in their vivarium. I have six animals currently housed in an 18x18x24 vivarium. You can usually spot 2 to 3 of them at any given time foraging about the vivarium, which is surprising because it is quite heavily planted. Here’s a collection of photos that are some of my favorites:
Ranitomeya sirensis breeding
My group of sirensis started depositing in the spring of 2016. I captured several videos of the development of their third clutch, the first that yielded viable tadpoles.
Interesting R. sirensis history
1991 Airchinger describes Ranitomeya sirensis. This becomes important later in the history of “highland lamasi”.
1992 Morales describes Dendrobates lamasi, what becomes known as “highland lamasi” in the hobby.
2006 Changes to the classification of “highland lamasi” begin to take shape with a taxonomic change to Ranitomeya lamasi (Grant, Frost, Caldwell, Gagliardo, Haddad, Kok, Means, Noonan, Schargel, and Wheeler, 2006).
2008 A further shift in taxonomic classification to “highland lamasi” is proposed by Twomey & Brown 2008 moving from Ranitomeya (ventrimaculata) to Ranitomeya (vanzolini).
2011 Finally (at least as of this writing) “highland lamasi” are no more. Brown & Twomey et al. (2011) provide extensive genetic, bioacoustic, and behavioral evidence that demonstrate that Ranitomeya lamasi, R. biolat and R. sirensis were all members of a single highly polymorphic species, in may ways similar to the variability of other dendrobatids like D. tinctorious and A. galactanotus. R. lamasi now becomes a junior synonym to R. sirensis. Within the hobby it is also proposed that the morph be referred to as “Tingo Maria”, referencing the location of their collection.
I think I have most of this right. It is a fascinating albeit confusing history for such a tiny frog.