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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi, my name's Michael and I've been a lurker here on Dendroboard for quite a while and I thought it was about time I posted something.

Here's a little something about my short experience in keeping dart frogs before I jump into what I just observed in my new varaderos:

I first joined in 2008 when I became interested in keeping dart frogs and began researching their care. It wasn't until 2010 that I first obtained some auratus and intermedius at the Frog Day event in Fremont. I unfortunately had a massive invasion of Argentine ants last year and lost the auratus and one of the original intermedius plus a few offspring. Whether it was the sudden change in territories resulting from the change in frog density or the stress of the ant attack, I was soon only left with one pair of intermedius. The female stopped laying and I stopped seeing her as often until I just stopped seeing her altogether. The male intermedius is all that remains of my original frogs and because I wasn't seeing any females being sold alone, I decided I'd purchase a pair or group of some other type of imitator. I tore down my 40 gallon breeder fish tank and set it up as a vivarium and I waited to see if anyone was selling an affordably priced group of imitator morphs that likely contained both a male and a female.

I was fortunate enough to get to purchase one of Phil Tan's last available varadero trios, who were sold to me as a probable 2.1. It's soon became apparent to me that it's more likely 1.2 since all three were sold as being over five months old, they were all fairly large, and only one was calling while the other two regularly visited the known male while he was calling without any aggression. The male has been calling since day 1 of arrival, and once I was sure they came through shipping well and saw that they were eating, I put them in the tank where he began calling even more frequently and loudly. It was when he started getting quiet that I knew that something was going on in there, so I started observing them more frequently. Today, his calls are no longer nearly as loud and the length of his calls are shorter than his regular advertisement calls. I watched him call quietly to the largest of the group, who had been the probable male, who arched its back and began to move its head back and forth, its snout touching down. Seeing this, the male moved closer and stopped calling. With no aggressive behavior taking place, I began to think that the probable male was probably female. After a short period of more back arching and twitchy head movements, she began moving across the tank, and the male followed. When she jumped to a bromeliad, she began her back arching and head movements until he jumped and landed next to her. With his attention, she proceeded to move down into the axil with her back arched until she was no longer in my view. The male proceeded towards the direction she went, and did a few short, quiet calls. She came out of the axil and moved into the next, repeating her previous behavior until the male followed.

Could what I was observing be pre-spawning behavior? Is it possible that she's looking for an axil she feels would be perfect for egg laying and that females of dart frogs are responsible for choosing egg-laying sites? It seemed to me like her movements were entirely meant to get the male's attention so that he would follow her around.
 

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How old is the female? It is possible that she is showing interest in him, but may be too young to produce.
 

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That sounds about right.I have a Variabillis pair and I have observed the female follow the male as he was calling .He would call her to a film can or a brom then she would pop out and he would call her to the next site, then eventually to every film can in the tank.The funny part is she decided to breed in the first film can(which seems to be her favorite spot) that he brought her to when she was satisfied with her choice.She definitely picks the spot.She just seems to make him work for it even though she always picks the same can.Depending on their age ,they may already have eggs somewhere.Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm not sure of their exact age, but Phil sold them as being above 5 months of age and I didn't ask. The female in question is the largest of the group with the male being the next biggest and the one sold as a probable female being only slightly smaller but considerably more plump than the calling male.

The male wasn't the one calling the female to laying sites, he was just calling and then the female responded with body language until he followed HER to the possible laying sites. It was as though she knew what she was doing and was leading the male.
 

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It sounds like the male is guiding her to leaf axils that have a tadpole present and then she lays a food egg. You are describing behaviour I have seen mine do many times before.
 

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It sounds like the male is guiding her to leaf axils that have a tadpole present and then she lays a food egg. You are describing behaviour I have seen mine do many times before.
I thought it sounded more like feeding, too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It's unlikely that they already have tads, as I've only had them for just over one week, not enough time for them to have laid eggs and hatched tadpoles. I thought that it was the males that led the females to axils for feeding tadpoles and not the other way around?

The male has resumed calling loudly again, so either the female was indeed unprepared to lay, or there's a hidden clutch somewhere now.
 
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