Notes on reproduction and care
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In late July of 1998 I acquired seven African Sedge Frogs (Hyperolius puncticulatus). They were just-morphed froglets, so I set them up temporarily in a small plastic critter carrier literally stuffed full of fake plants. In the meantime I set up a thirty gallon vivarium for them, with an undergravel filtration system. The tank was planted with Spathiphyllum floribundum (Peace Lily) in pots - these plants do fine with their roots wet. I also added a heat lamp over one end of the vivarium - these frogs like it hot and would oftentimes bask under the heat lamp for hours at a time!
I fed the frogs daily, and twice a day on the weekends. I gave them plenty of lawn plankton while the weather was warm, consisting of springtails, leafhoppers, aphids, beetles, etc. Ants were ignored. They also received fruit flies several days per week. During the winter months I fed them both large and small fruit flies (H. sturdivant, D. melanogaster) daily in large quantities. Twice a week I fed them quarter inch crickets (a real mouthful for these little frogs) gut-loaded with flake fish food and papaya. The frogs grew rapidly on this diet.
In late September the males started to call. The males call all night long. There seems to be two distinct types of calls; one is the common "night" call, a sharp and very loud "geck geck". The other appears to be a mating call, which is slower, more like "rrreck". In response to the calling I began to liberally spray down the enclosure during the early morning and again in the evening.
Amplexing pairs were noticed during the Christmas holidays. During amplexus, the female crawls around the enclosure with the male on her back, looking for a place to deposit her eggs. The female will even take food with the male on board. Amplexus is when I finally figured out what each frog's gender was. I also discovered that the females are just a bit bigger (longer and wider) than the males.
On 12/29/98 a clutch of eggs was discovered. The eggs are typically attached to vegetation overhanging water. Subsequent batches of eggs were found in a plant pot, attached to some sphagnum moss, and under a flat stone at the water's edge. The eggs are encased in a clear, jelly-like substance which aids in keeping the eggmass attached to vegetation.
The tadpoles, after hatching, apparently feed on the jelly. I found this out by separating a group of newly hatched tadpoles into two groups. One group remained with the jelly mass, the other group was moved into a separate container. A week after hatching, the jelly group tadpoles were nearly twice the size of the other group of tadpoles, and the jelly mass was greatly diminished.
The eggs hatch 2-3 days later. The young tadpoles have a large yolk sac that they absorb over the next few days. After hatching the sac is so large the tadpoles cannot swim or even right themselves.
The tadpoles are fed powdered fish food with spirulina, and small bits of fresh zucchini. They are removed from the vivarium with a turkey baster and kept in large ceramic crocks, with about an inch of water and a clump of Java moss for plant cover. Partial water changes with dechlorinated, aged water are done once a week. The crocks are kept about three inches from a GE Chromalux fluorescent bulb, which emits a small amount of UVB light.
On 1/20/99 back legs appear on the first tadpole. On subsequent days, the tail starts to shrink, and the head diminishes in size. Once the front legs appear, the tadpole's appetite diminishes, and soon they stop feeding altogether.
Once the hind legs appear, the tadpoles are transfered to a covered container for the remaining metamorphosis. The young froglets will crawl up out of the water and hide in the plants, typically still having a bit of tail left.
On 1/27/99 the first froglet crawls up on the side of the container. A small bit of tail remains, but disappears over the next few days. The froglets were separated into small groups and placed into glass jars containing real and artificial plants. Within a few days they were taking small fruit flies.
The froglets grow quickly on a diet of small crickets supplemented with fruit flies. I have discovered that the frogs fail to thrive on fruit flies alone and perish before reaching adult size.
In retrospect I think there are two important factors in successfully raising and breeding these frogs. The first is sunlight or an overhead light with a 'sun bulb' that provides plenty of light and heat (90F plus). The second factor is a varied diet of small insects that includes small crickets.