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The Global Studies vivarium is back!


Located in the lobby of the curriculum in Global Studies, the vivarium now houses ten exquisite poison dart frogs. Currently on display are two brilliant cobalt blue and black highlighted dendrobades azures, two dendrobades leucomelas with vivid bands of golden yellow and black, five incandescent green and black dendrobades auratus, and one bright yellow and blue dendrobades tinctorius. The frogs are all domestically bred and non-toxic. In order to produce poison, they have to feed on an ant species found in the rainforest from which they originate. The Global Studies dart frogs are kept on a strict diet of flightless fruit flies bred in-house.

Designed, built and maintained by Robertson scholar, Eli Hornstein ’14, the vivarium is a stunning and inventive recreation of the frogs’ natural South and Central American habitat.

Hornstein, who first became interested in poison dart frogs while his mother was researching the species in Costa Rica, has been building vivariums since he was a sophomore in high school. For the global studies vivarium, he ordered a 90 gallon tank, which he then filled with egg crate to create land features. Clay pellets cover the crate to regulate moisture transfer and host bacteria. He creatively constructed the waterfall from a flowerpot and rocks, which he also used to hide the water feature’s pump and plumbing. The river and walls of the tank he made from cork bark, and the plants he sourced from a local nursery in Raleigh. Hornstein chose to use coconut husk instead of soil for dirt as coconut husk does not degrade as quickly. To keep in humidity, he topped the tank with two pieces of acrylic with space for a ventilation fan to produce the air movement necessary for the prevention of mold. He added a fogger and artificial heating from a spectrum of fluorescent lights to mirror the frogs’ original environment.

You can see visit the poison dart frog vivarium weekdays from 8am-4pm, or by appointment.

vivarium 2