April is Frog Month! Meet our Frog Animal Ambassadors

This month we have THREE special ambassadors we want to introduce you to: Mr. Ripley, Buddy and Mr. Frog!

 

Mr. Ripley

Mr. Ripley our Pac-Man Frog - His famously beautiful patterned skin on display

This is Mr. Ripley, an Ornate Pac-Man (or Ornate Horned) frog from the genus Ceratophrys. Zovargo adopted Mr. Ripley in January of 2016 and he forms an important part of the family.

The name Pac-Man comes from the round shape of their face and their ginormous mouth, which is always ready to eat – just like in the game Pac Man! They enjoy meals of crickets, cockroaches, worms and even small mice. They have small teeth-like structures (odontoid projections) on their lower jaw which gives them power to catch and eat very large prey for their body size!  

Pac-Man frogs are available in pet stores and they are an easy to care for pet. However, they can live a really long time – up to 15 years! So if you are considering adopting one as a pet it is worth making sure you can commit to that length of time. Also, as with all frogs, their skin is highly sensitive to touch, so they are not a pet for cuddling! Pac-Man frogs like to spend a lot of their time burrowing in moist and cool substrate, like coconut or moss and this environment needs to be carefully monitored to keep the frog comfortable. As babies you can buy Pac-Man frogs when they are very small – approximately only as big as a quarter! It then takes them about a year and a half to reach their full adult size which for males is up to 4.5 inches and females up to a giant 7 inches.

Their conservation status with the IUCN is currently ‘Near threatened’, and with a significantly declining population it is important that as many people as possible learn about them and help to try and halt this declining population before they are categorized as ‘vulnerable’. In the wild they are found in Argentina (where they are rare), Brazil and Uruguay (where they have reportedly disappeared in at least two sites). As with most animals facing issues of conservation their main problem is habitat loss from human construction and agriculture. They also suffer from water and soil pollution from agriculture.

Photo from CyberStill.com

 A Pac-Man frog showing his teeth-like projections on his lower jaw! Source: CyberStill.com

Buddy & Mr. Frog

Buddy and Mr. F are White’s Tree Frogs, Litoria caerulea (AKA the Dumpy Tree Frog). In the wild they are found in Australia and New Guinea, but are kept as pets all over the world. In captivity, White’s tree frogs have been known to live over 20 years which is really long for a frog! Zovargo rescued these two from local owners who could no longer care for them in October 2014.

As you can tell from the name – one special thing about these frogs is that they live in trees! To maneuver through their tree-top homes, they can jump really far – 7x as far as their body length. That’s like a human jumping all the way across a whole street! Most of their jumping through the trees occurs at night as they are nocturnal - they have special large eyes which help to see in the dark and to find food (including cockroaches, crickets and worms – yum!).

You may not know that most frogs do much of their breathing through their skin. This means that their skin needs to be moist to help the oxygen be absorbed (this is why they are so sensitive to touch!!). One of the coolest things about these guys is that due to their moist skin, they naturally produce antibacterial and antiviral secretions to deal with any mold or bacteria which would normally thrive in a moist environment.  Not only does this keep them from getting sick, it has also helped us humans to research how to keep ourselves from getting sick too – understanding how the secretions work has helped with knowledge on preventing major human diseases.

The conservation status of the White’s tree frog is ‘Of least concern’ which is fantastic news – this means the species is currently doing well with no population decline. We love having Buddy and Mr. Frog with us and can’t wait for you to meet them at one of our events!