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I started keeping a vivarium and dart frogs about two years ago. I now have 5 vivarium going (and that’s it for a while). I’m about to have 11 green and black Costa Rican froglets.

Is this hobby growing? Do people get in and out of it after a year or two? Are most of the frogs dying from novice keepers?

The reason I ask these questions is because I can’t understand the prices and availability of some of these frogs. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not unhappy about the prices I just don’t understand it.

I do understand the time and effort it takes to raise these little guys. What I can’t understand is that why isn’t the market flooded with some morphs?

For some morphs like in my case I bought 3 little frogs and a year later I had tadpoles. Had I not moved these guys into a different tank I would be inundated with tadpoles. If even just a small percentage of people raise their tadpoles into froglets there should be an abundance of frogs on the market.

It's likely I’ll try to trade my current froglets for a few mints but after that it’s likely I’ll just raise any tadpoles and let them go for almost nothing. They are like guppies.

Or are just so few people staying in this hobby for several years that the demand still outweighs the supply? I would think a person who wants to turn a hobby into a business would only need a few years to get off the ground and be producing frogs by the thousands.

It’s just something that I was curious about.
 
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is the hobby growing?

Yes, in fact it's the biggest growth I've seen in 10 years or more. We were flatlined for many many years. The US Economy!!

do people get out after a year or 2 - definitely. I'd say 80% get out after a couple years. This is an attractive exotic hobby but it's more work than anyone see's coming.

Novice keepers killing frogs - sure. stands to reason.

Auratus are the goldfish of the frog hobby. Sometimes you can't give them away (MOST morphs)

Ask yourself....were those frogs really easy to breed? If yes, than that tells you their worth. Easy to breed = cheap and flooded market.
 

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Mantella baroni, Dendrobates auratus, Afrixalus dorsalis, Theloderma corticale
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Auratus are the goldfish of the frog hobby. Sometimes you can't give them away (MOST morphs)
I'd say that Epipedobates anthonyi probably qualify even more as the goldfish of the frog hobby. ;)
 

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I hadn't really thought about it that way, Jeff. I think the only possible reason that all frogs aren't $10 apiece is that it requires effort to set up a reasonable habitat and maintain it for the long run AND that it requires even more effort to remove the tads, raise them, etc. I think the average hobbyist is just not capable or willing to put the time in to breed their frogs. The people that come to this board are the ones that are (usually) interested enough to do it right. We on this board, though, are not really indicative of the average frog owner. For every person posting here, there are probably 10 or more people that buy frogs on impulse and don't stick with the hobby. Their frogs probably either die or are moved along via Craigslist and are never heard from again. If the first frogs people bought were pumilio or some Ranitomeya, both of which can raise their own froglets, we would truly be awash in frogs. Fortunately, availability and cost put most of those types of frogs out of reach of the beginner. It's an interesting thing to think about, though. Out of all the frogs that I have sold in our area, I see very, very few people selling babies of the frogs that I sold them. This is probably for the best. Maybe the most charitable read on the situation is that people are just not interested in the breeding aspect of the hobby. I suspect the real situation is worse than that, though.

Mark
 

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I'd say that Epipedobates anthonyi probably qualify even more as the goldfish of the frog hobby. ;)
In Europe (BENELUX) the goldfish frog has changed over the years from E.Anthonyi to D.Leucomelas imo.

E.Anthoyni (hybird form) has been drasticly declining in demand due too the fact they were so easy available. Everyone wants something "more special" it seems...
so I see a big decline in supply/demand with E.Anthonyi the las few years. But the population ex situ is big enough to flood the market if needed. They are realy easy breeders and strong frogs.


I do see a HUGE demands for Oophaga, especialy Pumilio!!! I know allot of breeders that are selling off all other species so they can full up their racks with only Oophaga. Mostly Oophaga pumilio due to their lower prices and huge demand. Histrionica and Sylvatica remain to pricy for most hobbyists, but they too are in big demand.

For others :

Ranitomeya has a very low demand at the moment since U.E. did so many exports to Europe. Same for most Auratus and Tinctorius.

Although some localities of Tinctorius are hard to find due to the absense of Suriname import and rarity among breeders. It is realy hard to find morphs like : Nikita, Dasha, Natasha, Lawa, Tafelberg, Saul, Lorenzo,...

Ameerega are not demanded at all, neither are there breeders that are able to supply the hobby.. Such a shame.. Most of the Ameerega are vanishing or already vanished in the hobby. The only Ameerega to be found here from time to time are A.Trivittata and Picta. Pepperi, Basleri, Hahneli and sissa are almost completely gone.

Mannophryne, Colostethus, Allobates shares/shared the same fate as Ameerega.
 

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It's not a cheap hobby and perhaps expense is reason people drop out. I also get frustrated with lack of available selection seems like same over abundance of some types. Compared to the aquarium hobby there is a lot less support. So many YouTube videos on fish not nearly as much for pdf's. I have my same pdfs I started with in 2017 and still love to watch them every day.
 

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I bought 3 little frogs and a year later I had tadpoles. Had I not moved these guys into a different tank I would be inundated with tadpoles.
I think this is something- Once you start providing laying sites and pulling eggs, you go from 0 to 100 really quickly.

You get your first frogs, realize how awesome they are, and how many extra fruit flies you have on your hands. Also you learned a few things from your first viv and you want to try some other techniques (fancy plants). So you start adding to your collection. EZPZ. You now have all these vivs and frogs (and flies)... why not let them breed and make a few bucks on the side? (bucks is Americanese for money).

You throw down a few coco huts with petri dishes and some film canisters and before you know it you're devoting more space, time, energy, and money to eggs and tadpoles than the original frogs. And it's not as fun or visually appealing. And now you have to responsibly find people to buy all your offspring.

What was once a joy has become a burden and now you're burned out on frogs and leave the hobby. You keep your vivs going because they still look good and you suspect you will regain interest again. Now a year and a half later you're finally thinking about getting some frogs again. And even though you were responsible with exiting the hobby you swear to yourself you won't ever do that again just because of how annoying the whole process was and maybe this time let's just have some fun and enjoy the hobby, ok?!?!?
 

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The hobby is growing, one major dart frog vendor moves about 10k frogs a year. Think about that.

There are a couple things to consider.

1 There are way more of what we would call casual keepers now. These are people that might just have 1 vivarium. Part of why this is, is because people have more and easier access to the information and resources to keep dart frogs. Places like joshsfrogs can give you everything you need, by mail, anywhere in the country. Casual keepers come and go, they often lose frogs or kill them, they also rarely care about breeding and are probably largely unsuccessful at rearing young. They might make a viv, lose the frogs after a year, then put a gecko in it, then try a different frog 2 years later.

2 international demand is ramping up. There isnt anything china doesnt change. When a billion people go from farming to high tech and join the developed world it puts demand on things and that includes pets like frogs. Products like the EVO Leds and others from topdogsellers that are cheap anf functional are a byproduct of Chinese demand for the pet hobbies ramping up.

Again major dart frog suppliers are seeing people grab up in wholesale, large batches of frogs and just take them over to asia and flip them for many times the price. I have heard some major breeders say they could sell every frog they produce to exporters if they wanted.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
On one hand I’m hearing it is difficult to sell them or even give them away when you have to many. On the other hand I’m hearing every frog produced could be sold reasonably quickly. A guy I know had his dart frogs for over 20 years!
I would think with the abundance of froglets a reptile shop would sell the common frogs cheap, say $10 and also sell all the equipment (including plants!) to create a simple vivarium. I think the shop would earn more money on the setup and plants than the frogs.

I just know it was difficult for me to find the frogs I wanted when I got started two years ago. I wound up with impulse buying at the first vendor I saw at Repticon in Denver. I never did get the frogs I wanted. I felt lucky at the time just to be able to buy the frogs I got. The show did not have a lot of choices so I thought I was going to miss out so I bought quickly. The Dart Frog Connection booth was packed with people so it felt like a frenzy. I had no luck looking for Lukes at the local fish/reptile shops. They may have only had one or two kinds of dart frogs.

Somehow I believe I might be able to trade my 11 Green and Black Auratus for 3 mints but that may happen or not. I guess we will see. I certainly don’t want to keep 11 more Auratus.
 

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Your problem is that you are just a small time player, remember I said the growth is driven by foreign and casual keepers. Casual keepers mostly go to big name breeders and companies to get darts, the local pet shop, etc.... And dendroboard is the last place they go to as has been seen by its decline. That said even at pretty dead reptile shows I moved all my frogs over the last 2 years. Sometimes it took me a while but eventually they sold, and I didnt put them for particularly low prices. When I did blow out a bunch of them I sold almost everything I had at 25% off.

Facebook is really a good place to move things now. Try getting into local groups even loosely related ones and advertising them without prices. Or go to a local reptile show and whole sale them to a variety vendor.
 

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Was just talking about this with a friend.

I think a lot of frogs are kept in adequate conditions but not breeding conditions. A little too warm, a little cold, a little too crowded, supplementation just a bit off ... whatever it is.

Then there are the frogs that meet an early demise due to husbandry errors or worse -- negligence.

And likely a large number that change hands so many times they don't get established long enough to breed or produce healthy offspring.

As long as people involved in herpetoculture view themselves as 'collectors' rather than stewards or keepers, these problems aren't going away. It's a drag.

Focusing on just a handful of species like I do, every day I see how little I know about a given species even after years. I wish the entire wider hobby was marketed and engaged with differently. Maybe someday. I'm seeing better and better, higher end gear and much more of it -- in the last couple of years than I've seen in the previous twenty.

My hope is that there'll be a shift away from quantity in favour of high quality. Like so many things our species is doing today, I can't see how the current paradigm is sustainable.

I know what I sound like. Excuse me while I go yell at some kids to get off my lawn.
 
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