Home :: Captive Bred Costa Rican Frogs

Captive Bred Costa Rican Frogs

February 2014

As you may know, I’ve recently agreed to be the distributor for Costa Rican frogs produced at a captive breeding facility in the country of Costa Rica. Initially this will consist of several forms of Costa Rican O. pumilio, but future shipments will include captive bred glass frog species, O. granulifera, Green and Black D. auratus, and lots of other exciting species.

When I originally was approached about this project, I was somewhat skeptical. There are a lot of “farm raised” frogs being imported, and very little proof to these frogs origins in some cases. The most recent distributor of these frogs did not do much to dispel any speculation as to these frogs true source, and very little concrete evidence of the frogs being captive bred was available. However I have since had several conversations with the owner of the frog breeding facility, and am now 100% convinced that these frogs are truly being captive bred in Costa Rica.

A bit of background- The frog breeder is a gentleman named Robert Meidinger, and is the owner of a facility called “The World of Snakes”, (www.theworldofsnakes.com) located in Grecia, Costa Rica. Originally from Austria, Robert began this operation largely out of a love of venomous snakes, and his early years in the business were spent breeding various venomous snakes and selling them to buyers around the world, zoo’s, institutions and hobbyists. All of this was done under the watchful eye of the Costa Rican government, as well as the CITIES board in Costa Rica, when applicable. However in recent years the interest in venomous snakes has declined, and the difficulties in exporting these animals has increased. Robert began to look for other types of animals to breed and offer to the world, and found himself breeding frogs.

The below document details the processes involved in breeding the frogs at their facility in Costa Rica, as well as some of the details on how the breeding process is monitored by the Costa Rican government, locally and nationally, and also by the CITIES board. I welcome any questions regarding this process. I’m convinced this is a “real” frog farm. If you are not, let me know what I can do to alleviate your concerns. I plan to visit at some point, and actually have an employee who will be likely to visit the facility this spring, so if there are some particular questions we can answer to make you a believer, please let me know!!

Thanks, Patrick

Hey Patrick,

just to follow up on a few issues we talked about, I would like to show you a bit from our breeding facility.

First I want to repeat, that I am almost a frog rookie, and most certainly there are a lot of very experienced breeders around with very specific know-how about frogs, who could do things better. The decisions I made, how to start with frogs and how to build cages, etc. has been very much influenced by the know-how and experience we gathered by breeding reptiles under the same climate conditions.

The first, most important decision was to work, as far as possible, outdoors only and so we built the frog facility next to the reptile facility, where we share some infrastructure as e.g. the irrigation system.

For most species we use 6 x 2 meter (18 x 6 ft) long, plastic-fenced cages, which are exposed to direct sun light as well as to rain. We then adapt the inside of these cages differently for every species, or set of species. We usually try to use a cage for two different species, which do not interfere with each other.

From outside the cages look like that …..

 

On the next image you can see how we build these cages. It is basically an iron frame structure, covered with a plastic mesh, which also provides a certain degree of shade for plants and animals. According to the technical description of that mesh it should filter about 50 % of the sunlight.

 

(on the right hand side you can see a part of the reptile facility)
The inside of all these cages shows a walking path, made by concrete blocks, of course to avoid that somebody has to step on the layer of dry leaves on the ground. A set of plants with big leaves provides additional shade ….

 

The cages for Oophaga pumilio get a dense bromelia environment, combined with artificial water holes, which they also use for depositing their tadpoles …

 

 

 

Of course we try to keep these little pumilio-worlds as undisturbed as possible. So after some time these cages become some kind of mini-jungle, which we carefully clean out a bit from time to time, but basically the idea is to create an environment as close as possible to nature. This concept not only includes the set-up, but also the food. We “inject” to these cages hundreds of different species of insects, including ants and termites, which live in that layer of dry leaves, and we provide even organic food for these insects in order to maintain their populations alive. That works exceptionally well and as long as the pumilio-population is small, we don’t have to feed at all. However, as soon as, the population in a cage goes over that limit, we feed additionally with crickets and termites, which we cultivate on our property.

 

 

 

Some adults (Puerto Viejo phase) around the “feeding place” in the afternoon ….
 

 

 

Cages for Dendrobates auratus are very similar, we actually use a few cages for pumilios and auratus together, however the next picture shows a cage where we house Dendrobates auratus together with Anotheca spinosa. The latter is a species which prefers water holes in trees, always above the ground. So we tie several bamboo pieces to the plants and fill them with water, which they use as hiding place as well as for depositing their egg.

 

 

 

 

Dendrobates auratus get another type of plastic cups for their tadpoles ….

 

 

 

The cages for tree frogs are of similar structure, except that we don’t have the bromelia around, but provide more bigger plants, like e.g. heliconias. That’s a look inside the Agalychnis callidryas cage (for adults only) ….

 

 

A few bigger and a few smaller water tanks are available for the frogs to deposit their eggs, but we never use these tanks for the tadpoles. We actually collect the eggs and incubate them in another area. Several adults resting on the plants during day time ….

 

 

 

A clutch of Agalychnis callidryas eggs hanging over one of these water tanks. After taking the picture we cut the plant and transfered the whole clutch into the incubation area ….

 

 

Only, because it is the end of the breeding season, this clutch got a luxury suite ….

 

Because during the high season it looks diferently ….

 

 

Tadpole Rack with thousands of individuals in 100 lots during the high season ….

Plastic tanks for froglets …..

“Todays harvest ….”

Froglets in 50 lots, a few days after metamorphosis …..

Agalychnis  callidryas froglets, about 6 weeks old ….

Rack for Froglets (A. callidryas), 0 – 3 month old …

(The below comments are regarding questions I asked about the handling of the baby pumilio. I was wondering at what stage the babies or offspring are removed, here is Robert’s answer.)

As far as removing the babies goes, we simply leave them in the cage where they hatch.  We had a lot of issues with the very small and young frogs not doing well when we removed them from their enclosure, so now we catch them between 3 and 5 month of age, once the freely move around in the cage. Every cage has 2 feeding places, one in the entrance and the other in the rear area. That´s a small area, about 4 square feet big which we keep clean and we put there the substrate we use to breed crickets with the rest of the micro crickets which are difficult to separate from that material. So there are always small crickets or termits or ants around these places and the frogs frequently visit these spots. So now, we simply take advantage of these places and catch the half grown juveniles once they visit the feeding places. And we do that every time we feed the frogs, that means we don't have a specific schedule to catch the frogs. We do it every day and catch only one or two a day per cage ....

We than report the selected frogs on a monthly base to the ministry, but wont get any permit for exporting them until the quarterly report is presented (end of march, june, september and december). So in average we catch the frog at 4 month of age and have an average 1.5 month waiting periode to present the quarterly report. After that we have to wait for inspections and in case of exports all the paperwork to be done. That means that the average pumilio (and others we treat similar) could be shipped with about 6 to 7 month of age minimum. They might not be adult at this point but certainly they have or are very close to have adult size. When we prepare a shipment we also try to get the oldest animals out which are also the easiest to catch in such a cage, because they already behave territorial and are much more visible than smaller individuals.