Frogs & Toads

Zoo Keepers Make It Rain For Endangered Frog

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Paignton Zoo Environmental Park has bred a Critically Endangered frog for the very first time.

Keepers from the charity’s Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates Department used artificial rainstorms to help set the mood for the Lemur Leaf Frog, a species found mainly in the rainforests of Costa Rica and Panama.

Paignton Zoo is one of only four collections in the UK working with this species. Keeper Andy Meek, from the Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates Department, explained, “We have a total of 18 tadpoles, a number of which have now become full froglets. We also have 10 adults. The species is Critically Endangered. There is a studbook currently being set up to manage this species in Europe. This is a first for Paignton Zoo, so I’m really pleased.”

The keepers prepared a rain chamber using a water pump and a timer system to make it rain every few hours during the day. The rainfall and the humidity together helped to replicate the sort of conditions the frogs would encounter at the start of the wet season, which is when they breed.

This is a tiny but welcome success in the face of the huge extinction crisis facing amphibians.

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3_2016 09 PZ adult lemur leaf frog 1Photo Credits: Paignton Zoo

The Lemur Leaf Frog (Agalychnis lemur) is a slender, lime-green frog with bulging eyes and no webbing on hands and feet. It is a nocturnal tree frog associated with sloping areas in humid lowland and montane primary forest.

Their eggs are usually deposited on leafs; the larvae wash off or fall into water.

This endearing little frog also has a trick up its sleeve: it can change color. Light green during the day, and it turns a less obvious reddish-brown at night when it is active.

It was once considered to be reasonably common in Costa Rica, but most populations have now disappeared. The species is classified as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The huge declines are probably due to the chytrid* fungus, which is decimating amphibians around the world.

(*Chytridiomycosis is an infectious disease in amphibians, caused by the chytrid Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, a nonhyphal zoosporic fungus. Chytridiomycosis has been linked, by experts, to dramatic population declines and extinctions of species in western North America, Central America, South America, eastern Australia, and Dominica and Montserrat in the Caribbean.)

Cotswold Wildlife Park Breeds Mossy Frogs

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Meet the ultimate camouflage artist --- a brand new species to Cotswold Wildlife Park, the Vietnamese Mossy Frog (Theloderma corticale).

Reptile keepers are thrilled with the first successful breeding of this species at Cotswold Wildlife Park. Eight Mossy Froglets are currently under the watchful eye of the dedicated Reptile Team, along with several tadpoles yet to metamorphosise. At this delicate stage of their development, the froglets remain off-show in the Reptile Incubation Room. Visitors will be able to see the new species later this year. Updates will be posted on the Park’s Facebook and Twitter pages: ( and @CotsWildTweets).

Curator of Cotswold Wildlife Park, Jamie Craig, commented, “We treat the rearing of any amphibian to adulthood as a success. The metamorphosing stages can be very tricky and we are delighted to have had repeatable successes with our Mossy Frogs. They are growing well and we hope to create a new display for them in the near future.”

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4_Mossy Froglet close up on 20p piecePhoto Credits: Cotswold Wildlife Park

In scientific terms, these remarkable amphibians are a relatively recent discovery. Their first recorded sighting was in 1903, originating from the steep mountain slopes of Northern Vietnam. Due to their remote location, they have been out of reach for scientists and researchers for decades, and very little is known about this species in the wild. They are currently protected by the Vietnamese government.

Their camouflage has been described as one of the best in the amphibian world. Rough, bumpy skin, combined with complex green and black coloring, makes them almost indistinguishable from a lump of moss or lichen, enabling these tiny frogs to blend in perfectly with their surroundings and avoid detection by predators. When frightened, they curl into a ball and remain motionless, mimicking death to avoid further harm.

In the wild, this species breeds by larval development in rock cavities containing water and also in tree holes. It takes approximately one year for a tadpole to become a fully developed adult. Researchers have discovered that Mossy Frog tadpoles can exist in water for months without developing, but they metamorphose into froglets within days when the water dries up.

Frogs have appeared in legend and folklore in many cultures throughout history. Chinese legends involving frogs date back to 4 B.C. - 57 A.D. Special temples were built specifically for frogs. In these temples, live frogs were encouraged to stay with offerings of food and water. When the amphibians wandered away from their appointed homes, they would be brought back to the temple accompanied by drums and music. In ancient Egypt, carvings and religious statues were made in the image of frogs. Archaeologists have also discovered embalmed frogs in some Egyptian burial sites.

In the wild, the Mossy Frog’s population numbers are under threat from habitat destruction and demand by the global pet trade, and they are also known as the Tonkin Bug-eyed Frog.

Check out the great photos of Mossy Frog adults--below the fold!

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Newly Described Poison Dart Frog Hatched in Captivity

Photo Jorge GuerrelSmithsonian Tropical Research Institute

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) scientists, working as part of the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project, hatched the first Andinobates Geminisae Froglet born in captivity.

Photo Jorge GuerrelSmithsonian Tropical Research Institute (2)

Adinobates geminisae tadpole_3_Photo Brian GratwickeSmithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Adinobates geminisae tadpole_Photo Brian GratwickeSmithsonian Conservation Biology InstitutePhoto Credits: Brian Gratwicke (Images: 3,4,5,6) ; Jorge Guerrel (Images: 1,2 7,8)

The tiny poison dart frog species only grows to 14 millimeters and was first collected and described last year from a small area in central Panama. Scientists collected two adults to evaluate the potential for maintaining the species in captivity as an insurance population.

“There is a real art to learning about the natural history of an animal and finding the right set of environmental cues to stimulate successful captive breeding,” said Brian Gratwicke, Amphibian Conservation Biologist at SCBI and Director of the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project. “Not all amphibians are easy to breed in captivity, so when we do breed a species for the first time in captivity it is a real milestone for our project and a cause for celebration.”

Scientists simulated breeding conditions for the adult frogs in a small tank. The frogs laid an egg on a bromeliad leaf, which scientists transferred to a moist petri dish. After 14 days, the tadpole hatched. Scientists believe adult Andinobates Geminisae Frogs may provide their eggs and tadpoles with parental care, which is not uncommon for dart frogs, but they have not been able to determine if that is the case. In the wild, one of the parents likely transports the tadpole on his or her back to a little pool of water, usually inside a tree or on a bromeliad leaf.

After the tadpole hatched, scientists moved it from the petri dish to a small cup of water, mimicking the small pools available in nature. On a diet of fish food, the tadpole successfully metamorphosed into a froglet, after 75 days, and is now the size of a mature adult.

Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project scientists are unsure if Andinobates Geminisae Frogs are susceptible to the amphibian-killing chytrid fungus. However, since it is only found in a small area of Panama and is dependent on primary rain forests, which are under pressure from agricultural conversion, they have identified it as a conservation-priority species.

The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project breeds endangered species of frogs in Gamboa, Panama and El Valle, Panama. The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project is a partnership between the Houston Zoo, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, New England Zoo, SCBI and STRI. This study was supported by Minera Panama.

More amazing photos, below the fold!

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Rare Cinnamon Frogs Hatch at Chester Zoo

Cinammon frog Nyctixalus pictus (8)

Rare frogs found in the forests of South East Asia have bred for the first time at Chester Zoo. The 43 Cinnamon Frogs are the only amphibians of their kind to hatch in any zoo in the world in nearly two years. 

Cinammon frog in metamorph (3)

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Cinammon frog_juvenille (9)Photo Credits: Steve Rawlins/Chester Zoo

Team manager of lower vertebrates and invertebrates for Chester Zoo, Ben Baker, said, “It’s really exciting that we have bred these unusual and very sensitive frogs, especially as we’re the first zoo in Europe to ever do so. 

“Cinnamon Frogs are a secretive species and live in a very, very specialized environment. Their ideal habitat is incredibly limited and so, as with many frog species around the world, they are extremely fragile. Currently they are listed as near threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), but with population sizes decreasing due to widespread habitat loss; the species is likely to become threatened in the near future. 

“Relatively little is actually known about the Cinnamon Frog, and so we now hope to learn a lot from our new arrivals. The delicate work the team has put in to getting these beautiful but complex animals to breed and all of the intensive care we’re now giving them will help us to build up our knowledge base. This kind of information can be invaluable for the long-term protection of the species.”

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Watch a Blue Dart Frog Grow Up at Smithsonian's National Zoo

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Check out this young Blue Dart Frog morphing from a tadpole to a froglet at Smithsonian's National Zoo! It takes about 80 days to go from fertilized egg, to tadpole, to fully-formed tiny frog.

Poison Dart Frogs are native to Central and South America. In the wild, the blue frog secretes poison from its skin due to chemicals from its diet. But at the zoo, without rainforest ants to eat, this bright blue frog is harmless. Visitors can see froglet and its family on exhibit at the zoo.

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Photo credit: Justin Graves / Smithsonian's National Zoo 

Blue Dart Frogs are found in a few isolated 'islands' of forest in the savanna of southern Suriname. Because their habitat is so difficult to reach, there is little data to tell us whether their population is in decline. Some species of Dart Frogs are Threatened or Endangered, and Blue Dart Frogs are certainly at risk as a result of their small ranges.

Did you know that worldwide, over 32% of amphibians are listed as globally endangered, and almost half of all known amphibian species are declining? 

From Tadpole to Froglet: An Amazing Transformation

Milky Tree Frog_Froglet Stage1

On March 12, an amazing transformation took place at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo:  a Milky Tree Frog tadpole became a froglet, one more important stage on its journey to becoming an adult Frog.  The metamorphosis from tadpole to juvenile took about three weeks to complete.

Milky Tree Frog_Froglet Stage2

Milky Tree Frog_Adult Stage1

Milky Tree Frog_Adult Stage2
Photo Credit:  Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo.

Milky Tree Frogs are also known as Amazon Milk Frogs, Mission Golden-Eyed Tree Frogs or Blue Milk Frogs.  They inhabit tropical rain forests in the Amazon basin, and dwell entirely in the forest canopy.  This is not all that unusual, except most Tree Frogs are rather small.  The Milky Tree Frog, however, grows up to four inches (10 cm) long – big enough to dine on pinky mice at the zoo.

The “milk” in this Frog’s name comes from the poisonous, milk-colored fluid they secrete when stressed. The photos above show the froglet (top two photos) and adult (bottom two photos).

Ever Seen a Frog This Tiny? Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and Collaborators Successfully Breed Endangered Species

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The Limosa Harlequin Frog (Atelopus limosus), an endangered species native to Panama, now has a new lease on life. The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project is successfully breeding the chevron-patterned form of the species in captivity for the first time. The rescue project is raising nine healthy frogs from one mating pair and hundreds of tadpoles from another pair.

“These frogs represent the last hope for their species,” said Brian Gratwicke, international coordinator for the project and a research biologist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, one of six project partners. “This new generation is hugely inspiring to us as we work to conserve and care for this species and others.”

Nearly one-third of the world’s amphibian species are at risk of extinction. The rescue project aims to save priority species of frogs in Panama, one of the world’s last strongholds for amphibian biodiversity. While the global amphibian crisis is the result of habitat loss, climate change and pollution, a fungal disease, chytridiomycosis, is likely responsible for as many as 94 of 120 frog species disappearing since 1980.

Frog duo
Frog piggyback

Frog on leaf
Photo Credit: Brian Gratwicke, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

See more pictures and read much more about these frogs, and the great efforts to preserve their species, after the fold:

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Aukland Zoo Breeds Critically Endangered Archey's Frogs

Frog hero

For the first time ever, Archey's Frogs have been successfully bred in captivity. Aukland Zoo is the only facility in the world to keep this critically endangered New Zealand species. 

Laid in October, the eggs hatched in early December. Twice before, other facilities had attempted to breed Archey's Frogs from wild-caught individuals, but the young did not survive to adulthood. Aukland Zoo now has seven healthy young frogs, bred from their own long-term captive population. 

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Photo credit: Aukland Zoo

Watch Archey's Frogs wiggle their way through different developmental stages:

What makes Archey's Frogs unique? Read more after the fold.

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After 12-Year Effort by Zoos, Kihansi Spray Toads Returned to the Wild

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The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo, the Toledo Zoo, Tanzanian government, World Bank and other partners reintroduced 2,000 Kihansi spray toads into the Kihansi Gorge in Tanzania in October. This is the first example of an amphibian species that had been declared extinct in the wild being reintroduced into its native habitat.

The repatriation effort marks a major milestone for a species declared extinct in the wild in 2009. It is the result of a 12-year partnership to breed the toads in captivity while its habitat was restored. 

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2. Alyssa Borek 0339 Kihansi Spray Toads in Tanzania 10 00 12


 “The WCS Bronx Zoo has been working with our partners for more than a decade to save the Kihansi spray toad with the ultimate goal of  reintroducing it back into the wild,” said Jim Breheny, Executive Vice President and General Director of WCS Zoos & Aquarium and Director of the Bronx Zoo. “The curators in the Bronx Zoo and in the Toledo Zoo – whose expertise allowed them to develop a successful husbandry and propagation program for these unique little toads – have helped to ensure the reintroduction of an important living component back into the Tanzanian ecosystem.”

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Ever Heard of Food Flagging Frogs?


These tiny tadpoles are a huge sensation at Schönbrunn Zoo, the first zoo to have succeeded in the breeding these food flagging frogs native to Borneo. Congratulations come from Professor Walter Hödl of the University of Vienna, one of the most renowned international amphibian specialists, saying: “This is the first breeding program world-wide!”

Food flagging frogs owe their name to the fact that they communicate by waving to each other. This habit comes from their adapting to their natural surroundings, as they live by roaring streams and waterfalls. In order to attract their fellows’ attention, they not only call but they also wave their hind legs. By doing this, they spread the coloured webs between their toes to emphasise their signals.


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Photo Credit: Photo 1 and 3 Schönbrunn Zoo/Norbert Potensky, Photo 2: Doris Preininger

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