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Breeding the Green and Gold Bell Frog and Welcoming its “Extinct” Relative – Part 1

Green and Golden Bell FrogAmphibian enthusiasts were thrilled with the recent announcement that Australia’s Gold Spotted Bell Frog (Litoria castanea), feared extinct for the past 30 years, still survives in the South Tablelands area of New South Wales.  Some years ago I bred a related species, the Green and Gold Bell Frog, L. aurea, (pictured here) at the Bronx Zoo – hopefully the lessons learned by myself and others working with that species will prove useful in the current Gold Spotted Bell Frog recovery effort.

A Bright Spot amid Dim Prospects

The surprising discovery of a small population of the “extinct” Bell Frog, limited to a single stream, was made by a New South Wales conservation officer who was surveying fishes at the time.  The promising news came on the heels of a dismal report, released by the IUCN, which estimated that 30-50% of the world’s amphibian species are in danger of imminent extinction.  Seven frog species have disappeared from Australia recently, and as many as 120 amphibians worldwide have not been seen in recent years, and may already be gone.

The Gold Spotted Bell Frog is believed to have originally succumbed to habitat loss, pesticides and introduced cats, fishes and foxes.  It “returns” to a world plagued by climate change and Chytrid fungus, an emerging amphibian disease that is sweeping across the world and causing local extinctions.

Captive Breeding Efforts

Green and golden Bell Frog in ReedsCaptive breeding efforts for this frog are underway at the Taronga Zoo, which is also working with the related species I bred years ago, the Green and Gold Bell Frog.  It seems that in a mere decade or so the Green and Gold Bell Frog has gone from relatively common to quite scarce.  Fortunately, it is proving relatively easy to breed, so the program has great potential, and may serve as a template for rescuing the even rarer Gold-Spotted Bell Frog.

I think there is a lesson for herp keepers to be learned here – study and breed whatever animal catches your interest, as studies of even the most common amphibians and reptiles may have vital importance in the future.


Further Reading

You can learn more about Gold-Spotted Bell Frog natural history here.


Green and Golden Bell Frog images referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by LiquidGhoul and Tnarg 12345

About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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