LIVING JEWELS - The Reed Frog
I have been a keeper of exotic animals for as long as I can remember with all the ups and downs of pursuing this fascinating hobby I have seen and collected some of the world’s most beautiful and rewarding animals. I am pleased to begin by stating that the keeping and breeding of exotic animals has never been easier or cheaper. I will list a series of top tips for a happy environment and suggestions of species to be kept.
Reed frogs<Hyperolius sp>.
Reed frogs are a very good place to begin with amphibians. Most common species of reed frog available will have originated in Africa. Over 100 different subspecies are available in all colours imaginable. Reed frogs tend to be found in gardens and parks and the wetlands south of the Sahara. The call of the reed frog is commonly heard on wildlife films as background noise. I have found that a group of reed frogs can become quite vocal in the early morning or evening and especially if rain or a storm is on its way.
1. It is better to buy at least 6 to 8 reed frogs to ensure diversity and a good breeding match. An 18” by 18” by 12” terrarium would happily house this amount. A reed frog is only 1 to 1.5” long.
2. A glass viv is preferred as this will help with viewing temperature regulation and they are water proof.
3. Good natural daylight lighting: Reed frogs are one species of frog that are natural baskers and are commonly seen doing so. I have provided both a compact natural sunlight lamp inside the viv and an arc pod over the top. The lamp in the arc pod is a plant growth colour enhancing lamp named original tropical. You will find that u.v lamps can burn live plants so the inclusion of a plant growth lamp seems to offset this effect. You can see this working at ‘The year of the frog exhibit’ at Marwell Zoo conservation project.
4. Provide a maximum daytime temperature of 28 degrees. It gets very cold at night in these areas so hot and cold areas are great. A heat mat can be used on the back wall of the viv; it is a good idea to invest in a thermostat and good thermometers and hydrometers.
5. Reed frogs need a place to swim and breed. I have a dish about 2” deep and half the floor area of the viv. Please use clean rainwater or dechlorinated tap water to ensure a safe environment for the frogs. Spray the viv down every day with a household plant sprayer to increase humidity and simulate a rainy period.
6. Orchid bark is very easy to find at a good reptile supplier and can be used in the rest of the viv.
7. Live planting is a nice addition. Reed frogs will climb into the pools of water in some common house plants like bromeliads. I am not aware of unsafe houseplants for frogs and I have used dracaenas and fern species also.
8. Live food is essential for reed frogs and you can spend hours watching them feed in the evenings, I have seen reed frogs chase small crickets around. First and second instar crickets can be used I would recommend black crickets as they have a higher sugar content. Small wax worms can be offered as a treat, live blood word can be offered in the pool and is readily taken by some frogs as are fruit flies. Please ensure that you only feed crickets as needed as over supply can mean uneaten crickets will damage the frogs. Please use a good vitamin powder at least once a week on the live food. It is a good idea to gut load live food I use a mix of breakfast cereals tropical fish flakes and a piece of carrot.
Reed frogs are a very enjoyable set of animals that can be collected over time. They have a good life span and have been bred in captivity. Reed frogs breed in the rainy season so gradually increase the number of times you spray down the viv. You will notice as the humidity rises the males will call more frequently and you may be lucky enough to witness the male grasp hold of a female. Eggs are laid on and around the leaves of the plants in or near the water. Eggs are around 2mm in size and a number of about a hundred can be produced. If you would like to rear the baby frogs a good number can be raised by removing the eggs carefully and placing in a separate container, a stable temp of 22 degrees can be maintained. I would use an air pump to circulate the water. It will take roughly 7 days for the eggs to hatch. Feed the baby tadpoles with a good quality tropical fish food ground finely with a small amount of calcium powder, as the young grow you can start to include bloodworm and daphnia as well. Oxygen producing plants can be used i.e. elodea. If you are not using a small filter the water will need a 50% change every day with dechlorinated water.50 to70% of froglets survive to adulthood from the first metamorphosis. These can then be kept as breeding stock or placed back into the gene pool in the pet trade or your local club.
Reed frogs are a very good place to start with amphibs and many keepers move onto poison dart frogs or dendrobates as they become more experienced. The most important thing to remember is to enjoy the eco system you have created for the frogs. A well set up terrarium can be a thing of beauty in a living space. If you wish to have a bigger viv you could also include green anoles and Asian long tailed grass lizards, these will live happily with the frogs, I have also heard of some keepers including rough green snakes, I would not personally recommend this as they are opportunistic feeders and could take smaller frogs…….