Treefrog Facts – An Introduction for Pet Keepers

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.  The world is home to a mind-boggling assortment of fascinating treefrogs, many of which make wonderful pets.  Included among the 1,200+ species that have adapted to life above-ground we find tiny, colorful gems, giants that will feed from one’s hand, gliders that sail through the treetops and a host of other delightfully unique frogs.  Some, such as Red-Eyed and White’s Treefrogs, are pet trade staples.  New species become available frequently…in recent years, for example, the bizarrely-beautiful Amazon Milk and Mossy Treefrogs have become “must haves” among serious frog enthusiasts.

White’s, Red-Eyed, Lemur, Green, Reed, Waxy Monkey, Mossy, Cuban, Asian Flying, Barking, White-Lipped and dozens of other treefrogs are available in the pet trade.  An understanding of their natural history – how they live in the wild – is the first step in learning to provide them with proper care in captivity.  This article will introduce you to their habits and habitats.  The articles linked below provide specific information on their care and habits of some unusual species.  Please be sure to post questions about the care of specific species below.

Range

Waxy Monkey Treefrog

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Brocken Inaglory

Treefrogs are found on every continent except Antarctica, and have adapted to rainforests, temperate woodlands, arid semi-deserts, human dwellings and many other habitats.  I’ve found Gray Treefrogs in the heart of Manhattan and Cuban Treefrogs in downtown Miami, where their favorite “habitat” earned them the now-dated name “Phone Booth Frogs”.

 

Treefrogs that Break the “Frog Breeding Rules”

Some treefrogs deposit their eggs on leaves over water, while others breed in tree hollows in the forest canopy.  It was recently discovered that the tadpoles of India’s Brown Leaping Frog live on tree limbs and eat bark, while those of the Fringe-Limbed Treefrog actually devour their father’s skin (no worries…it grows back!).  Please see the articles linked below for more information on these two bizarre creatures. Read More »

UVB Light: Why Do Reptiles Need It, and Which UVB Bulbs are Best?

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Our understanding of the role that Ultraviolet B Light plays in the lives of reptiles and amphibians has increased greatly over the last few decades, but we still have much to learn about the needs of individual species. A good deal of conflicting information has been published, and opinions differ even among my well-experienced herpetologist colleagues. Today I’ll provide some basic information on UVB light in natural and captive situations, including some tips as to how best to provide it to the animals under your care. I’d like to stress that many variables will affect your individual situation…please post below for specific information.

What is Ultraviolet B (UVB) Light?

The various types of light are characterized by different wavelengths, which are expressed in nanometers (nm). There are three types of Ultraviolet Light, two of which are important to reptile and amphibian husbandry.

Gopher Tortoise

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Gary2863 at en.wikipedia

UVB Light has a wavelength of 280- 320 nm. Many reptiles synthesize Vitamin D3 (or, more specifically, Pre-Vitamin D/Cholecalciferol) in their skin when exposed to UVB light. The optimum range for Vitamin D3 synthesis in reptiles is 290-315 nm.

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Africa’s Deadliest Snake? Black Mamba Habits, Venom and Behavior

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. As any experienced reptile enthusiast knows, accounts concerning the size and aggressive nature of various snakes are usually highly exaggerated. The Black Mamba, however, comes close to living up to the legends that surround it, and has long been among the most feared of all African snakes. In the course of a lifetime spent working with venomous snakes in the wild and captivity, I’ve come to regard it as deserving of a special degree of respect. Today we’ll take a look at its natural history and behavior.

Description

The Black Mamba is the longest of Africa’s many venomous snakes. It is slender in build and averages 8-9 feet in length, but 14 footers have been recorded. Also very agile and fast-moving, several individuals have been clocked at 12.5 miles per hour. Black Mambas often travel about with the head held high, in a manner similar to that of North America’s Black Racer.

Black mamba feeding

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Tad Arensmeier

The “black” part of its common name is derived from the color of mouth’s interior, which is displayed when the animal is threatened (North America’s Cottonmouth behaves in a similar fashion). The body color may be various shades of brown, olive or gray, but is never black.

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Black Mamba Memories – Working with one of the World’s Deadliest Snakes

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. As a small boy, I devoured the books of Messrs.’ Ditmars, Kauffeld, Whittaker, Sanderson and others who sought out snakes in their natural habitats. The formidable Black Mamba, (Dendroaspis polylepis), accorded respect by all, was given a special place of honor by legendary snake man C.J.P. Ionides in Mambas and Maneaters. Although I was eager to expand my snake hunting experiences, these authors convinced me that this longest of Africa’s venomous snakes was better observed than handled. Fate intervened, however, and I wound up working closely with what has been described as “Africa’s deadliest snake”. Accounts of the recent escape of a Black Mamba from the Pretoria Zoo brought an experience of my own back to mind…

Mamba striking

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Tad Arensmeier

Handling Mambas and Cobras

Zoo-based reptile keepers such as I handle thousands of venomous snakes over the course of their careers. A snake hook generally fits the bill for routine tasks. The Black Mamba, King Cobra and several related species, however, present special challenges, especially when they reach full size. Quick, high-strung, and seemingly more alert and intelligent than others, many Elapids (cobras, mambas and their relatives) are difficult to move via snake hooks….all old reptile keepers have their stories. You can read about my adventures with an escaped King Cobra in this article.

I was fortunate in having had the benefit of working with several older, well- experienced keepers, and had no illusions about “proving” myself when it came to cobras and mambas. I feel that “discretion is the better part of valor” where they are concerned, a belief confirmed by observations made in the course of responding to many snakebite emergencies over the years. Whenever possible, I relied upon shift cages or other “tricks” (please see article below) when I needed to move a mamba.

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“My Emperor Scorpion Has Babies…What Should I Do”?

Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Emperor Scorpions give birth to live young, and most hobbyists are thrilled when this happens.However, scorpion reproduction breaks many of the “rules” that apply to other pets.For example, a female that has been alone for 14 months may one day be found with 30 tiny white youngsters, or “scorplings”, on her back!I’ve written about scorpion breeding and care in detail elsewhere (please see links below), but thought that an article describing what steps one should take when first discovering youngsters would be useful…especially if your female turns out to be a less-than-perfect mom and begins eating her new creations!Please also be sure to post your questions and concerns below, as scorpion births often take owners by surprise, and I’ll be sure to get right back to you.

Predicting Scorpion Births

In the wild, some Emperor Scorpion populations breed seasonally, while others may reproduce year-round.Captives can mate and give birth during any month of the year. Further complicating our ability to predict births is the fact that females seem able to both store sperm and delay giving birth if conditions are not ideal.Environmental factors such as temperature and stress may also affect the youngsters’ development.Even under ideal conditions, the gestation period may exceed 1 year, although a range of 7 to 10 months is more common.

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