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Old 01-18-2017, 09:01 AM
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TarantulaGuy TarantulaGuy is offline
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Default The Importance of Letting Frogs be Frogs?

I'd like to hear people's ideas on where we currently stand as a hobby, as far as 'best practices' go about our obligations as keepers in stepping in and managing various bits of our frog's reproductive life cycles.

I personally believe that the value in letting the parents go through their full behavioral range (whatever particular range that may be) outweighs the need for 'more frogs (in terms of sheer biomass) in the hobby.'

I think it's to the mental and physical benefit of our breeding pairs and groups to allow them go through their full reproductive behavioral range, as best as we are able to currently provide for them. I think that it keeps our frogs more mentally 'stimulated/enriched' (and in the end, healthier, both mentally and physically) to let them perform their full reproductive life cycles through to their own respective completions. I'm also inclined to believe that the frogs tend to know their business better than we do, and as much of it as I can let them do, the better.

I also think that the overall health of the captive population in the hobby would benefit if we don't 'coddle' every batch of eggs that gets laid. I think in the end, we're doing ourselves a disservice by taking that approach. I would argue that we'd better served by letting a little natural selection take place, i.e. the less is more strategy, as far as genetic fitness is concerned. In all Dendrobatid species currently kept in the hobby, (at least as far as I'm currently aware) male frogs provide some measure of parental support. That support, at minimum, involves transporting tadpoles to a deposition site.

From Lotters et. al. Poison Frogs: Biology, Species, and Captive Husbandry; section 1.6.4 "Parental Care":

"Once the tadpoles have freed themselves of their jelly coats, they wriggle up onto the male's back, preferably along the outlines of the front and hind legs where they are adpressed against the body. The male will patiently wait for the larvae to arrive there. Larvae that are too weak to manage this climb and give up are abandoned. only in some very rare instances a male was observed to return to an oviposition site and collect larvae that were left behind during the first relocation. "

The degree of care past that varies at that point, whether from transporting tadpoles to a single phytotelmata per tadpole, or whether finding a large pool and then just releasing the whole clutch, or up through the specialized egg feeding behaviors in Oophaga and others. But the point is, there is a crucial aspect of selection that takes place in that process; that is not happening when you just pull eggs as soon as they're laid, which is where I feel like the emphasis too often is.

I think, in the end, it's more important to the health of the population as a whole, that these tadpoles essentially be left behind, rather than what seems to be recommended too often these days:

1)Pull the eggs, as soon as you find them
2)Douse them in methylene blue or tadpole tea or whatever in a petri dish
3)We then as keepers, personally transport them to individual cups

Yes, doing it this way *will* yield higher numbers of frogs, absolutely. But on the whole, I believe that the overall fitness of individuals in a population is being lowered faster than it needs to be through the generations with this practice. In the vast majority of species/locales the hobby is currently working with, we don't particularly need them either; whether it's from a genetic diversity standpoint or even in many species, from a demand standpoint. Obviously there are outlier species or locales that do demand some special treatment do to low population numbers, I won't argue that point, but in most instances I think we breed more than what the demand is, so we could probably stand to produce a little less.

Don't misunderstand, the only point I'm really trying to make here and discuss is that I think we as keepers oftentimes interfere a little too early in the reproductive cycle unnecessarily; not that we shouldn't intervene at some point ever. Also, I have not data mined the journals to back many of these statements as facts (yet! ), but these are more just some of my gut feelings on the issues based on what I've seen so far in the hobby. But I'm keen to hear other's viewpoints and have a discussion! I need a break from the monotony of the 'which light should I pick' question
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