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Australian Green Tree Frog (Litoria caerulea)

photo by Frank Teigler

Common Name: Australian Green Tree Frog, White’s Tree Frog
Scientific Name: Litoria caerulea
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Locations: Australia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea
Introduced Location: United States – Florida
Size: 4 inches (10 cm)

The Australian Green Tree Frog is not always green but can be brown or blueish. They change their colors to match their surroundings. The tree frog is a common frog in the pet trade due to their hardiness and ease of care. They can be referred to as the White’s Tree Frog or Dumpy Tree Frog. They are named the Dumpy Frog after the fat deposits that can form on obesity frogs’ head. If taken care of, the frogs can live over 15 years long. They have a huge appetite so if housing the Australian Green Frog with other frogs, make sure they are the same size. It is believed that the pet trade introduced the species to Florida but luckily, the frogs haven’t been spotted in Florida since 2010. Please never release your pets into the wild as it can have bad consequences.

Breeding for the Australian Green Tree Frog occurs during the rainy season for November to February. Males will call to attract females. Mating is aquatic and up to 2000 are laid. No parent provides any care. The eggs hatch shortly into tadpoles that take around 6 weeks to complete their metamorphosis before winter arrives.

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Enrichment for Frogs and Toads

Enrichment has become an integral part of the captive care of animals. Enrichment is important to help keep animals mental and physical stats well. Sadly, most of the knowledge and ideas about enrichment is about mammals. Reptiles and amphibians are sadly, often missed when it comes to enrichment but I don’t! I will go over some ideas for enrichment for frogs and toads.

Diet Variety

One of the easiest and often missed enrichment opportunities is using a variety of different food items for frogs and toads. Often keepers feed their frogs or toads just crickets or Dubai roaches. There are a variety of prey items that one can feed your frog or toad including meal worms, horn worms, and earthworms.

Feeding Time Variety

Another simple enrichment idea is just changing when you feed them. People become used to feeding their animals at certain times of the day but adding variety in the time can help them out.

Tong Feeding vs Active Hunting

There are generally two different methods of feeding for frogs and toads. You can either feed each food item to the animal with tongs or release the food items into the tank for them to hunt down on their own. Tong feeding allows the keeper to monitor the exact amount of food each animal is receiving and allows all animals to be fed evenly. When frogs and toads are housed together, one individual may eat more of the food than the others if not tong fed, causing an imbalance. Allowing the frogs and toads to actively hunt down their food provides more psychological enrichment for the animals. I try to balance the two out.

Shelter

Frogs and toads need to be provided shelter to hide in. I don’t really think of this as enrichment but as a basic need but others think its enrichment so I will include it. Often keepers won’t provide shelter due to them wanting to see their frog or toads all the time. Put your animals needs first. PVC pipes are commonly used item for aquatic / terrestrial species to hide in. Arboreal species should have hanging leaves on their tanks for them to climb up and hide in. Burrowing species should have enough dirt in their tank to burrow down and hide in. Those are some of the most basic ways to provide shelter. You can add plants, branches, or rocks to any tank to create more areas for hiding.

Bioactive Enclosures / Tanks

In the search for the most naturalistic environment for reptiles and amphibians, bioactive enclosures were created. These enclosures don’t just have a few live plants in them, but try to create a whole mini ecosystem. Springtails, isopods, or other invertebrates are added to help break down waste. It is believed that these set ups will make the animals feel more natural.

Frog of the Week

Zaire Dwarf Clawed Frog (Hymenochirus boettgeri)

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Photo by Mwatro

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Common Name: Zaire Dwarf Clawed Frog
Scientific Name: Hymenochirus boettgeri
Family: Pipidae – Tongueless Frog family
Location: Cameroon, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, and Nigeria
Size: 1.4 inches or 35 mm, females larger than males

The Zaire Dwarf Clawed Frog is part of the group of frogs referred to as the Dwarf Clawed Frogs in the pet trade. The Zaire Dwarf Clawed Frog is the most common species of the Dwarf Clawed Frogs in the pet trade.

The Zaire Dwarf Clawed Frog is an aquatic species of frog. They only come up to the surface every few hours to take a breath. Like other members of the family Pipidae, the Zaire Dwarf Clawed Frog lacks teeth and a tongue.

Pets

Meet Holly, the Fire Bellied Toad

Holly is another one of my fire bellied toad. She shares a tank with Skyler and Walter Jr. She’s the newest addition but I got her I think in 2014. Interesting story about Holly, when I lived at home, my dad left their tank cover open and she escaped. I couldn’t find her and our basement is a mess so I thought she would die. I found her 6 months later just hopping around. She is green like Skyler but a tad darker shade which helps me with telling them apart. She is also a little smaller.

Frog of the Week

Bumblebee Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobates leucomelas)

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Common Name: Bumblebee Poison Dart Frog, Yellow-banded Poison Dart Frog, and Yellow-headed Poison Dart Frog
Scientific Name: Dendrobates leucomelas
Family: Dendrobatidae – Poison Dart Frog family
Location: Brazil, Colombia, Guyana, and Venezuela
Introduced: United States – Hawaii
Size: 1.5 inches or 38 mm

The Bumblebee Poison Dart Frog is found in the tropical forests of South America. They are toxic as their name suggests but the toxin comes from their natural diet of ants. Captive Bumblebee Poison Dart Frogs are non-toxic.

The Bumblebee Poison Dart Frogs performs parental care for their offspring. Males rotate the eggs so the eggs get enough oxygen. Once the eggs hatch, the male carries the tadpoles one by one on his back to small bodies of water.

The Bumblebee Poison Dart Frog is common in the pet trade. It is easy to breed in captivity and fairly easy to take care of. The frogs in the wild make natural groups so housing a few together is fine until they start breeding. Bumblebee Poison Dart Frogs have been found in the wild in Hawaii, though they haven’t done too much damage to the environment. Don’t release pets into the wild.

Articles

The Hate on Keeping Reptiles and Amphibians as Pets

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Pet owners of reptiles and amphibians are often criticized for their love of their animals. TV and movies often show people who own herps (reptiles and amphibians) as weird and strange. Articles are often posted about how reptiles and amphibians shouldn’t be kept as pets.  There’s so much hate and dislike for these wonderful creatures. I’m going to go over some of the benefits of owning herps.

Herps, especially snakes, are often feared and hated by the general public. This hate and fear can have serious consequences for the animals. There are festivals where they round up snakes and kill them. People try to kill all the snakes that they encounter which is the #1 cause of being bitten in the United States. Herp owners often try to change this attitude. Many owners are part of groups that do public events to try to show the positive signs of herps and to change people’s mind.

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Having a pet herp can also inspire people to help animals. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life until I received some fire bellied toads. After feeding them and watching them, I learned what I wanted to do: save frogs. Many other scientists and conservationists have similar stories.

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Skylar, one of the original Fire Bellied Toads

Reptiles can be therapy animals and better than cats or dogs for some people. Reptiles don’t show emotions, like cats or dogs, which is better for some people. Some people are also allergic to cats and dogs but not reptiles. Reptiles are also less active than a dog so you don’t have to take it on a walk.

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Bearded Dragons are great therapy animals

One common arguments that people make against having a herp as a pet is that they are a common invasive species. Common herp pets such as Burmese Pythons, Cane Toads, and tegus are all invasive species in Florida (and elsewhere). These species are to blame for problems but are they worse than more common pets? It is estimated that cats kill over a million birds per day in Australia. That is an insane number for one country. Cats are maybe one of the worst mammal invasive species on the planet. Dogs are also considered an invasive species. Fish are huge problems. People release their fish from their aquariums all the time. Goldfish are found in many water bodies around the world now and these fish can grow BIG. There are more examples but I think I made my point. I don’t think we should blame herps when it’s all pets that are invasive.

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DO NOT RELEASE YOUR GOLD FISH

I will admit, there are problems with the herp pet trade. Some breeders keep their animals in terrible conditions. Some stores sell malnourished or sick animals. Animals are removed from the wild, even ones that are low in numbers. These imported animals could be spreading diseases such as Chytrid Fungus. We need to fix these problems. Better regulations need to be put in place.