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By Heather Jaggers
Have you heard April is the month we nationally celebrate the frog? While just the word “frog” might conjure an image of whimsy and joy, the reason behind the focus is anything but elation. Hundreds of frog species are at the brink of extinction due to large-scale habitat loss, climate change, and the spread of the dreaded Chytrid fungus.
As always, the best thing to do when faced with a harsh reality is to face it with others. For the last decade, biologists have led the way to finding a range of methods for people to protect frogs. Of course, the term “frog” may be used loosely to include our other little amphibian friends also at risk (like toads and salamanders).
How can you help? Check out this link (also below) for ideas such as building small frog-friendly ponds, composting instead of using chemical fertilizer, donating, and even hosting Frog Day parties (a legit activity)! I would encourage you to venture out to our local frog ponds with the young and old alike to explore, sit, and listen. One of my favorite places in Colorado to sit with the frogs is Mueller State Park. There are a few ponds that host frogs, tiger salamanders, and even “waterdogs”. We all could use a little more naturing in our lives, taking time to explore the various ecosystems around us. To see pictures and locations of all the various frog species in our own state, go to The Colorado Frog Lady‘s website.
At Pikes Peak Veterinary Clinic, we enjoy seeing exotics which occasionally includes frogs. It’s no secret that some of us consider frogs among our favorite patients! Our understanding for creating realistic habitats for pet frogs has improved immensely over the years and especially since the advent of the internet. A few frog hobbyists have used their biology knowledge to launch substantial careers. For example, we often refer clients to Josh’s Frogs or The Bio Dude to learn about creating bioactive environments for their frogs. Just like it sounds, the optimal environment for most frogs in captivity is an enclosure that mimics the natural food and decomposition cycle of the forest. Once this habitat is set up and thriving for a few weeks, the upkeep is much easier than a traditional sterile enclosure.
If you are considering having a frog for a pet, I would advise researching what kind of frog appeals to you the most. Keep in mind that although some frogs are known for being handleable (like the White’s Tree Frog), we encourage people to consider other frogs because their skin is quite permeable. Lotions, soaps, hand sanitizers, etc., can easily be absorbed and are toxic to them. This YouTube video thoroughly discusses this limitation and shows how amazing these frogs are.
After deciding on what kind of a frog is the best match for you, research what kind of habitat they need and budget out how long it will take to create the ideal home. Enclosures with proper space, lighting, and heat are an investment, but one that is worth it. Healthy environments ensure healthy pets! Trustworthy bioactive soil insects for frogs can be purchased through Josh’s Frogs or Bio Dude’s websites. Once the food critters are thriving for a few weeks, it’s time to add the frogs.
All exotic pets should be added one at a time to a shared habitat and only when their health is certain. If you have any doubts, come see Pikes Peak Vet’s Dr. Fowler for expert advice. Think about finding a central location where everyone will enjoy your beautiful frog terrarium when they visit. Who knows—you might end up being the local host of next year’s National Frog Day party!