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Old 01-31-2008, 10:34 PM
lacerta lacerta is offline
 
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Check out my photos in the gallery. I have an album of frog parasites. I have done hundreds of fecals, not only on my own frogs, but also on wild reptiles and amphibians. Here are a few observations regarding my limited experience with amphibians:
1. Wild caught frogs and toads are litterally "bag-o-worms". A heavy parasite load involving multiple phyla of organisms is the norm.
2. In captive bred frogs the infection rate is probably close to 100% if you count all forms of protista. Infection involving nematodes is also very high but do not involve anywhere near the diversity of different parasite species you'll encounter in wild frogs.
3. As pointed out earlier, flotation techniques are not nearly as effective as a direct smear with the small volume of feces you get from dart frogs. Most of the smaller protista are destroyed by the rapid osmotic change and are missed. Likewise the number of shed larvae by most nematode species can vary and false negatives are very common. For this reason I prefer to use a dissecting scope for an initial scan. In a watch glass or petri the entire fecal pellet can be teased apart and flooded with several drops of saline (.6%). Using the upper magnification levels (40X) on most dissecting scopes will immediately reveal movement. Most samples will litterally be teaming with ciliates and flagellates along with 1st stage nematode larvae. Some blastomere or larvated eggs are also often encountered. Further detailed examination can be done using a compound scope at much high magnification. I will often use a micropipette to lift specimens from under the dissecting scope in order to prepare a wet mount for much higher magnification.
4. Beware of "artifacts" that look like parasites or eggs. Fruit fly eggs, insect parts, pollen, etc have fooled many "experts".

Happy Hunting! There is a whole new world inside that little dab of fex.
(by the way: "feces" is plural for fex"

George
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