Tails Blog

Keeping Frogs for pets in New Zealand

Steve Coppell - Sunday, October 10, 2010


While frogs are cool animals, keeping one is a serious long term commitment. You cant just let it go when your child leaves home or you get sick of catching flies.
What many people don't realise is that frogs live longer than most cats or dogs. Golden bell frogs have been known to live for twenty years.

Responsible frog keeping
Handle your frog as little as possible, as frogs absorb chemicals through their skin. Wear gloves or clean and moisten your hands if you do need to pick up a frog.
Ensure your frog has a suitable vivarium to live in. A large glass tank (600 x 300 x 300) with a ventilated lid is ideal. It should be equipped with rocks, plants and untreated bark so your frog can climb, hide and bask in the sun.
The pond in your vivarium should be chlorine free, and if the water is not filter, it should be changed at least once a week. Position a branch or rock to help your frog leave and enter the water.
Frogs need sunlight, but don't put the tank in direct sunlight or you could overheat your frog.
You will need a regular supply of live flies, mosquitoes, worms, crickets and cicadas. You can either trap your own or they can be bought. Frogs are healthiest on a varied diet.



Returning species from captivity back to the wild

So what is the big deal about releasing them in the local stream? While it is ok to take tadpoles and introduced frogs from the wild to keep as pets, the problem comes with returning them back to the wild. Releasing them actually poses a threat to New Zealand's rare native frogs. This is because there is no way of knowing if your frog or tadpole is infected with diseases such as the deadly amphibian chytrid fungus, Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd)
Chytrid fungus  attacks the frogs skin, causing it to lose the ability to regulate minerals such as potassium and sodium. An infected frog will subsequently die of heart failure or secondary skin conditions. So, if your adding to an existing population, your frog might have a disease such as chytrid and you could be spreading it. It might be a special strain from another area. You introduced that strain and it mixes with the one already in the area and the disease becomes stronger like a super bug. The frogs may have become resistant to the original strain, but perhaps they cant  handle the new strain. Your introducing the unknown and causing things to mix that shouldn't.


Maud Island frog native to New Zealand

Frogs and the law
Under current legislation native New Zealand frogs (ie Archeys frog, Hamiltons frog, Maud island frog and Hochstetters frog) are totally protected and it is illegal to disturb, handle or collect them and even to specifically look for them without a DoC permit.
It is also illegal to release pet frogs into the wild.