By Erin Murphy/ECHO ECHO’s Poison Dart Frogs have a brand new home! Animal Care’s Shannon Kane recently finished creating a new vivariu...

Hopping into a New Habitat: Poison Dart Frogs

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By Erin Murphy/ECHO

ECHO’s Poison Dart Frogs have a brand new home! Animal Care’s Shannon Kane recently finished creating a new vivarium, which is an enclosure meant to keep animals in semi-natural conditions. Vivariums are meant to be easy to maintain, natural looking, and a healthy environment for the animals living in them. At ECHO, a vivarium is also a step towards becoming more sustainable.


(Photo by Erin Murphy/ECHO)

“Every week there would be a soil change,” Kane said. This meant removing the frogs from their habitat then returning them to the cleaned habitat. Handling the frogs, even with the best technique, is a stressor for the animals. Any time handling can be avoided, the better off the animals are. Through the use of substrate--the material on the floor of the enclosure--habitat changes are greatly reduced, and even potentially eliminated.


The habitat that Kane created is self-cleaning. The new vivarium contains a substrate mix made by the Atlanta Botanical Gardens, which contains a lot of great natural components to help it self-sustain.

(Photo by Erin Murphy/ECHO)

 “There’s charcoal in the mix, like you would find in water filters,” Kane said. “It removes chemicals from the habitat.” The substrate also contains sphagnum moss which helps retain moisture that the frogs need, fir bark to support moss and fern growth, and springtails.
“Springtails are decomposers. They break down fungus, mold, and feces and are a delicious snack for the Dart Frogs,” Kane said.


The Poison Dart Frog habitat is strictly maintained by the Animal Care staff or experienced volunteers. The vivarium not only provides a great habitat for the frogs, but the reduced need for cleaning also gives Animal Care staff more time for other care, projects, or program development.


Now, Kane’s duties to the poison dart frogs include continuing to make assessments of their condition, feeding them, changing the water, misting the enclosure to maintain a jungle like humidity, and washing the plants every now and then.


Most importantly, though, the new vivarium gives the dart frogs an enclosure that can help the Animal Care staff keep the frogs healthy and stress-free in a more natural and beautiful habitat.

(Photo by Erin Murphy/ECHO)



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