Let me start off by saying that I am Bill’s veterinarian, and he is a great guy. He has a huge selection of non-thumbnail frogs available at all times. He has very good prices and has been breeding dart frogs for 12 years. We have been dealing with each other for over a year.
Metronidazole is an excellent drug with many benefits to the frog hobbyist, but in needs to be used correctly.
Metronidazole is a synthetic, nitroimidazole antibacterial and antiprotozoal agent. It’s main benefits to an animal are threefold.
1) It is a great antibiotic for anaerobic bacteria (especially obligate anaerobes including Bacteroides, Fusobaccterium, Veillonella, Clostridium, Peptococcus, and Peptostreptococcus among others.) Actinomyces are frequently resistant to Metronidazole.
2) It also has amebicidal and trichomonacidal action. (It directly kills amoebas and is effective against Entamoeba histolytica, Trichomonas, Giardia, and Balantidium coli and some other protazoa.)
3) It appears to stimulate appetite probably through its anti-inflammatory actions or its inhibition of cell-mediated immunity.
After absorption, Metronidazole is rapidly and widely distributed throughout most of the animal’s tissues and body fluids. It even reaches bone, abscesses, the central nervous system, and reproductive tissues.
It is metabolized (eliminated) mostly by the liver, but the kidneys play a role also.
Metronidazole has been shown to cause birth defects in some laboratory animals if given to a pregnant animal.
Adverse reactions are usually neurologic disorders, and arise after either an acute overdose (giving the animal way too much at one time,) or on animals given the appropriate dose (or even less) for a prolonged time.
Metronidazole is usually given to animals orally, but this is not feasible with dart frogs. Metronidazole is absorbed through the skin, and according to Amphibian Medicine and Captive Husbandry by Wright and Whitaker, on amphibians tested, to achieve the same dose percutaneously as orally one must administer 20% more. Roughly 75% of Metronidazole applied to a dart frog’s back will be absorbed.
I use and recommend Metronidazole for certain sick frogs. I do not recommend Metronidazole to be used on every frog in a collection routinely. I talked to Bill this morning, and explained my position. Bill informed me about a month ago of his plans to use Hex-a-mit in this manner, but I did not recommend it or do any calculations for him.
Here are my concerns with this protocol.
Bill is recommending Hex-a-mit to treat vivaria, not the frogs themselves. His reasoning is that if Metronidazole has such amazing properties and helps frogs fight off infections in vivo (within the frog’s body) it should help to reduce the infectious agents within the vivaria (in vitro.)
There is absolutely no way to quantify the dose a frog will receive if it is exposed to Metronidazole within a misting system. How much mist is pumped into each tank? How high will the concentration of Metronidazole build up as more and more is pumped into the tank? How many drops will each frog come in contact with? More active frogs will bump into more drops before they evaporate. Metronidazole itself will not evaporate so it will leave a potentially harmful and unsightly residue over everything it covers. Each misting system will work differently. Each vivaria will have areas of high and low Metronidazole concentration.
Bill does not use live plants. What effects will Metronidazole have on each and every plant, moss, fungus, insect, egg, etc that we have in our microcosms? There are no studies at all that have delved into this. I must recommend caution.
Also, remember that adverse reactions can be encountered in chronic long term usage.
There is also the possibility of creating antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria with inappropriate usage.
Metronidazole is destroyed by light.
Metronidazole is a wonderful drug. I have many forms of the drug that are easily and conveniently applied to the frogs that need it. I am not telling anyone not to buy Hex-a-mit or even not to use it as Bill plans to. I just want to stress the importance of truly and fully understanding a medication before inventing your own usage protocol. I am a medical professional with a passion for darts. I have more than 200 in my collection. I am constantly researching. I love the hobby, but I am a veterinary medical professional rather than a hobbyist.