Staff at Shaldon Zoo are very excited about the recent successful breeding and rearing of the Critically Endangered Lemur leaf frog which has restricted distribution in Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia and featured on the BBC’s Attenborough’s Fabulous Frogs documentary.
This fascinating tiny nocturnal frog, that could fit on the end of your finger is bright green and hides under leaves by day, turning brown at nightfall when it emerges and hunts for tiny insects in the trees and plants of the rainforest. Shaldon Zoo is one of a number of zoos participating in the international breeding programme for this endangered little amphibian.
Julie Matthews, Education and Research Officer for the trust said: “We are extremely proud of this breeding success, these little frogs have specific husbandry needs so it is down to the skill set and diligence of our keepers that we have been successful in increasing our numbers of this species.
“The Lemur leaf frog is on the BIAZA (British and Irish Association of Zoo and Aquaria) top ten reptile and amphibian species reliant on zoos for their survival.
“The numbers of these little frogs has declined by over 80 per cent over recent years due to habitat loss and the effects of Chytridiomycosis, a disease caused by a fungus which infects the delicate skin of amphibians, interfering with their breathing and natural defences.
“They lay between 15-30 eggs on a leaf overhanging water. After about a week the tadpoles hatch and plop into the water below. It then takes a further 90 to 150 days for the tadpoles to develop into an adult frog.
“This year has seen our first success in breeding this delightful colour-changing frog. We have a dedicated off-show rearing room where the tadpoles are given all the special conditions and attention needed including special lighting, heating and water filtration.
“Keepers even have to make a special ‘tadpole tea’, which has high tannin content to prevent bacterial growth that can harm the frogs during metamorphosis.”
Visitors can see the adult Lemur leaf frogs in their nocturnal vivarium and other endangered frog species in the zoo’s F.R.O.G (Forest Research and Observation Gallery) room.
It is open every day from 10am until 4pm (5pm from April 1). The entrance ticket is valid all day giving visitors the opportunity to come back for another look at its animals!
Shaldon Wildlife Trust is a small not-for-profit charity in South Devon, with all money made going directly back into the zoo and its conservation projects.
For more information on how you can help with the Trust’s work through adoptions, memberships, experiences or conservation efforts visit the official website at www.shaldonwildlifetrust.org.uk or phone 01626 872234
(from a press release)