Captive Propagation and Tadpole Husbandry
Two months after the nests were laid, all of the remaining tadpoles were now hungry little froglets. How and what do you feed three hundred froglets? The breeding project had succeeded far beyond my expectations, and I was committed to raising these frogs, completing the whole cycle and learning from the experience.
The bulk of the diet consisted of domestic crickets. I raised my own, and ordered them from suppliers to fill in the gaps. The froglets started out eating 1/8" crickets, and as they grew I increased the size offered. I also offered fruit flies, which I also raised. Fruit flies are useful as a supplemental food but should not be used as a staple; in my experience frogs do not grow and develop properly on a fruit fly diet. I also provided 'lawn plankton', harvested from the grass in my back yard. A sturdy plastic container is used; the top edge of one side is dragged through the grass, and the small insects are pushed or flipped into the container. After a sweep the contents are tapped into a corner of the container, and then tapped into a jar with a lid. The process is repeated, and soon the jar is full of leafhoppers, thrips, beetles, spiders and so on. A half hour's work can yield several thousand small insects. In my opinion this wide variety of insects provides a complete nutritional package, and the frogs thrive.
It was while raising the froglets that I experienced the first significant mortalities. A small number of frogs did not thrive, eating very little and showing little or no growth, and these did not last very long. Additionally, while the tadpoles left each other alone, the frogs practiced no such restraint; on a number of occasions I found frogs with cage mates stuffed in their mouths. I noted that the females grew faster and larger than the males, and it was often the female frogs who ate their smaller companions. The population densities may have played a significant role; ideally, had I not been pressed for cage space I would have kept no more than a half dozen froglets in that size of cage.
Final Observations and
As it turns out, this species cannot be deterred from breeding if the frogs are in good condition. Many subsequent egg masses were not allowed to develop, or I selectively raised small numbers of tadpoles with good success.
P. leucomystax does quite well in captivity if provided with well planted, spacious, tall vivaria. The cage should be sprayed with water on a regular basis, and a large dish pan or dog bowl should be kept full of fresh water. At dusk the frogs will climb down to the water dish, and position their back ends in the water, presumably to take on moisture. They usually defecate at this time, which is why it is important that the water is changed and the container cleaned as often as possible. This is a nocturnal species, normally at rest during the day. The male's nocturnal vocalizations are a series of soft clucks and grunts, not so loud as to be annoying or sleep-depriving.
These frogs readily take crickets, moths, and other insects, and the adults will also eat pinky mice. Care should be taken not to place juveniles with adults, as they are likely to be eaten.