Keepers of Poison Frogs, Mantellas, newly-transformed frogs, and other tiny amphibians face difficulties in providing their charges with a varied diet. Wild frogs consume dozens to hundreds of invertebrate species, but captives are usually limited to fruit flies, flour beetles, pinhead crickets and springtails. Vitamin/mineral supplements help, but dietary variety remains critical.
Throughout my career at the Bronx and Staten Island Zoos, I have relied heavily upon wild-caught invertebrates. I recently “re-discovered” an old favorite – the various Sap or Picnic Beetles (Family Nitidulidae). I first used Sap beetles when rearing Wood Frog metamorphs decades ago, and later fed them to Spring Peepers, Red-Eyed Treefrogs, Poison Frogs and others in zoo collections. Many small amphibians will eagerly gobble up Sap Beetles, but Poison Frog and Mantella keepers will find them especially useful. Sap Beetles never fail to bring an enthusiastic feeding response, and can save us some time and money while providing nutrients missing from standard foods.
Sap Beetles are classified in the Family Nitidulidae, which contains nearly 3,000 members. Most top out at 1/8 inch, with the largest barely reaching ¼ inch in length. Several species, commonly known as “Picnic Beetles”, show up when sweet foods are served outdoors. Some feed upon over-ripe fruits, corn and other crops, while others take nectar, sap, fungi and carrion. Read More »