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mixing/multispecies exhibits.

58921 Views 72 Replies 15 Participants Last post by  beachbabe18509
I believe I will take Mr. Yeager up on his invite to continue this discussion.

When referring to mixed enclosuresi the use of the word mixed is an inapt description as this indicates that the animals are together in a homogenized fashion. Because this is not what typically happens multispecies is a better description of the properly set-up enclosure.
Multispecies enclosures are becoming more and more common with the larger and better Zoos (including some of those at the forefront of dendrobatid breeding such as NAIB) and Aquaria. Many of the multispecies enclosures at these institutions have been present for years (some for more than a decade) with little to no problems and in some occasions house multiplegenerations of the animals on exhibit.

There are a lot of issues that are thrown when ever multispecies enclosures are brought up on various forums (not just this one) these include (and I am sure I missed a few),

1) the spatial requirements of the animals are violated
2) pathogens
3) stress

Spatial needs of the animals, this is a issue where some hard and fast numbers have become set in stone in the hobby. Usually, people speak about 5 gallons per frog. To make this simple, I am using the assumption that the 5.5 gallon tank is the standard for the 5 gallons that is the commonly used reference.
Within the 5.5 gallons of space, the space used by the frog (I am going to use a tinct as a standard for the larger dart frogs) is typically very different than the space "alloted". In a typically planted set-up the frog will only use the bottom of the tank most of the time so the actual used total space can be calculated by the surface area of the bottom of the tank (8 inches by 12 inches) and say 3 inches of head room for the frogs to hop. A 5.5 gallon tank contains 960 cubic inches so the frogs only really use 30% (288/960 = 0.3) of the available space or about 1.65 gallons.
What this means is that people have to pay attention to how the tank is portioned out for the frogs. With the set-up described above (5.5 gallon tank) there may be between 4 to 5 inches (substracting for bottom of the tank) of height in the tank that is not used by the dart frog. This would indicate that another species could inhabit that niche if the owner of the enclosure was so inclined. In a manner similar to aquariums, people can look at the enclosure as having an upper portions, a middle portion and a lower portion. In most of the smaller enclosures, this will only be two levels. The other space designates a niche that can potentially be used for a different species. This is where multispecies enclosure planning begins. The person needs to be aware of how much space is really being utilized in the enclosure by the animals. This will give you the first step on the path to the next choice if you wish to keep multispecies enclosures.

After comments (if any), next topic pathogens (last will be criteria to help make the correct choice).

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Your calculations make no sense what so ever, as many of us don't jsut have a ground level and backgrounds. We have hiding areas, branches protruding formt he background, the glass itself, etc. so the frog truly does use the full 5 gallons that given to it.

I've seen death traps ( I mean community tanks) are becoming more and more common, anyone care to join me in making one with a variety of frogs, turtles, lizards, etc.? Seems to be ok, been going on for a while now...
P.S. I love how this was posted in the beginner section, as these are the people (beginners) who truley need to be thinking about mixing species.
Ed is Ed Kowalski the lead keeper at the Philly zoo. He is also one of the best biologists/herpetologists I know. His experience in breadth and time beats most of ours here, myself included.
This proves that ed knows what HE's doing. This doesn't mean he should advise others to follow him when they don't have the expereience of working at a zoo with many different animals. I think that mixing species is out of the question for almost all of us, like Melissa said.
Ed, you are a genious, thank you for pointing this out.
So to sum it up just to begin to consider if multiple species enclosure is an option the following must be determined (this is before we get to parasites/disease and stress)
1) Is there more than one niche available?
2) will the conditions available to the animals (both frogs and others) be suitable for those animals?
3) If the animal(s) are territorial, do I have enough visual barriers and hiding spots?
4) Can I easily feed, clean and maintain the enclosure in the chosen configuation? If not, will any changes made to make the enclosure easier to maintain change the animal(s) requirements? and if so can I then meet those requirements?
5) Will the shape or behavior of one animal affect the territoriality of another animal in the enclosure?

So in other words, a lot of issues need to be considered for the set-up before placing multiple species together. It is possible but it takes a lot of planning and thought to do it properly and this still does not take into account the other two items.
This makes much more sense than your original post, glad that some guidlines were layed so that people don't consider mixing species, when they don't know what should be required. I'd also add to that list that they should be able to keep both species seperately to know each's personal requirments. Also, experience, experience, experience.

As for your mathematics on how much space an animal occupies within a given amount of space in a terrarium, I still must disagree. Not every animal is the same, and they don't use up exactly 6" of height within the tank. The more "decorations" in the tank, the more space that's taken up, you are correct, but this also leads to the more space occupied, as it's much easier for a frog to hop around on driftwood rather than float through the air. Hope this makes some sense.
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There are some good points you made, which puts more guidlines to mixing species. I do not agree with the following:

If the person wishes to keep a small hylid with
Dendrobates, then they should consider Hyla leucophyllata or Hyla ebraccata as
possible options.
These species of hyla are not so tiny as to take fruit flies as a staple diet. Unlike dart frogs, most treefrog take on larger prey items, than smaller ones. H. leucophylatta and ebracatta should be kept on a staple of crickets. Most dart frog species cannot each the size of crickets that these frogs will consume. The stress of having a larger prey item in the same inclosure as a small animal is not a good thing. Crickets have been known to "nibble" upon frogs much alrger than the cricket itself (example, white's treefrog). I wouldn't want to imagine what could happen if the crickets for the treefrogs were not consumed during their noctural activity, and started to "irritate" any dart frogs while ain their resting site for the night. Just my thoughts.
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They will feed on smaller items, but it will take much more to get thme full. The added stress of hundreds of prey items may be over whleming. And yes, crickets can pose a threat to animals, I've seen pictures of wounds, and also deaths from cricket bites. If not fed, crickets begin to eat each other, what stops them frog trying to eat a frog? Just my side to this...
Both H. leucophyllata and H. ebraccatta mass a little less than or about the same as a large tinct. As the weights and temperatures are about the same the metabolic rates are about the same. This would make the caloric requirements about the same. This would then mean that the number of food items needed to be consumed are about the same. So it would not require hundreds and hundreds of ffs in the cage to feed the frogs. (If you want an explination of the caloric needs based on body size and temperature I refer you to Amphibian Medicine and Captive Husbandry for the explination).
Key words: large tinct. You may wish to include this within your original statement of:

"If the person wishes to keep a small hylid with
Dendrobates, then they should consider Hyla leucophyllata or Hyla ebraccata as possible options."

The size of both their mouth and the size of the dendrobates mouth prevents frogs from trying to eat frogs.
Not quite sure how this came up, but treefrogs can be very agressive feeders. Anything that moves can/will be looked at as a food item. The size of their mouths does not limit what they attempt to eat.

I've seen mixed tanks of fire-bellied toads and fire-bellied newts, and most of the newts have missing limbs. This is because the whole newt is too large for the frog to consume, but it sees the animal moving, therefore views it as prey.
There is no set time when one frog becomes inactive and another becomes active. Tree frogs mostly hunt at dawn and duck. At this time, the darts will stillb esomewhat active, and this may be an issue. As for during the day, with the treefrogs sleeping, I've had a lone cricket wonder through the bracnesh of a P. sauvagei tank in the middle of the day (heat bulbs and fluorescents on) and be snatched up with the frog's pupils almost completely closed and the third eyelid covering. This shows that they will eat anything moving, doesn't matter what it looks like, or what time of day. In the wild, they wouldn't know the next time they'd get a meal, so they must eat as much as possible. This all goes for treefrogs, maybe someone willpost about darts int he wild? Mr. Yeager?
probably the highest density at the moment is either a breeding group of RETFs in a 20 H (13 animals)
......Why is this being done? That's a bit much......
Hmm... in Montana aren't your closest neighbors like a mile away?
Haha, nice. Although it does seem that people on the east or west coast tend to think that the more "boring" states (Kansas included) seem to make no advances in technology, and still use covered wagons and such.
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