How do I take care of morphing froglets and young dart frogs?

Dendrobatids, more commonly known as dart frogs, reproduce by laying eggs. These develop into a free-swimming larvae, before coming out of the water as miniature versions of the adults. In this installment, we’ll discuss how to morph out healthy froglets, and raise them for the first few months.

Metamorphing Larvae

When the tadpole show both it’s back legs (visible about a month before it emerges from the water) and it’s front legs (visible about a week before it emerges from the water), it’s time to switch it into a container that it can easily crawl out of the water and onto land. At JoshsFrogs, we simply turn the 32oz container we used to raise the tadpole at a 45 degree angle, drain out most of the water, and place a vented insect cup lid on top to prevent an unintentional escape.

 

Tilting the container 45 degrees provides a gentle slope for the froglet to emerge.

At this time, the froglet is absorbing it’s tail and using it as a food source – there is no need to feed. The future froglet will remain in the water for a time, and may emerge periodically, returning to the water when they are frightened. When the froglet is seen out of the water for the majority of the time, it is then removed to a rearing bin. It is not uncommon for part of the tail to remain at this point – the froglet will continue to absorb it, and will not take food for a few days after the tail is no longer visible.

 

When froglets first emerge from the water, it is not unusual for them to have some tail remaining.

Care of Froglets

After they have left the water, froglets are removed to rearing bins. We use 128oz 9.75” diameter plastic food storage containers to house froglets in pairs. Larger containers can be used, and froglets can be raised together in larger groups, but we find that pairs work best for us.

128oz plastic containers work great for rearing froglets.

We use a substrate of damp long fiber sphagnum moss, with a few dried leaves and a plant clipping. The sphagnum moss has natural antibacterial properties, and keeps the enclosure at a constant high humidity level. The plant clipping uses up nutrients (ie waste) as it grows, and the dried leaves provide hiding places for the young frogs. Springtails are added to the enclosure to help maintain a clean environment, as well as provide a constant food source for the young amphibians. We feed them 3 times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) with small fruit flies. The flies are dusted with a vitamin and mineral supplement (we alternate between Repashy Calcium PlusRepCal Calcium with D3, and RepCal Herptivite) at every feeding.

 

Springtails and dusted Fruit Flies make up the bulk of a young froglet’s diet.

Make sure to provide a constant food source for the young and growing frogs. You want a small number of food items to be present at any given time, but you never want there to be such a large amount that it stresses out the frog. With proper care, this simple enclosure will provide the optimal environment for the new frogs to thrive for the first 2-4 months of their life out of the water. At this point, they are typically moved into large quarters or a vivarium.

 

After froglets are several months old, they care ready to be introduced into a vivarium.

Conclusion

Amphibian literally means two-sided life – the origin of this term is very apparent in the life cycle of the dart frog. Care of the metamorphing animals and subsequent froglets is by no means difficult, but is a vital part of ending up with healthy adult frogs.

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