Why are we raising frogs and toads?
We humans feed a wide range of animals to our pets, and eat a wide range of them ourselves. Just about every creature out there is food for someone else!
The sad reality of snake ownership in the US is that no matter what the natural diet of the species, keepers typically default to only feeding rodents. Some will eventually cave to trying other prey items if their snake is refusing meals, and some are great keepers going above and beyond to offer a varied diet based on the natural history of the snakes they keep.
We're not here to debate the ethics of feeding animals to other animals - that's well past us if you eat meat or care for any species that eats other animals.
Here at Telos we have a plains hognose snake and a plains garter snake - two species that would come across and eat amphibians in their natural diet. To let a hognose express its own telos (to "be a hognose" and live as their biology has shaped them to want to live), we need to offer biologically appropriate prey items and a feeding experience that is aligned with their natural feeding behavior. For our hognose, that means enabling him to search through damp areas where he'd normally find his food - frogs, toads, and turtle eggs!
In captivity we inherently will fall short of all the choices and variety a wild snake would experience - but offering as much as we can through an enriching enclosure, dietary diversity, etc. is what it means to provide telos-centric husbandry.
Why aren't feeder amphibians more accessible?
Well, they are not nearly as quick and easy to produce year-round as rodents! Breeding them is more involved, raising babies happens in large waves rather than a convenient # throughout the year. It can take quite a long time to grow them out to a useful size. Once all that is factored in, they are not cost effective for most people.
That, and some people don't like the idea of feeding adorable little frogs and toads. Even though they're fine with feeding adorable little mice and rats and various other intelligent, interactive, deserving-of-respect-in-their-own-right species.
What species are we trying out?
We decided to start with three very different species to see which would perform best to raise as feeders!
American toads (Anaxyrus americanus)
Cuban tree frogs (Osteopilus septentrionalis)
American bullfrogs (Lithobates catesbeianus)
We hope to try out African clawed frogs next year! Other species on our radar are cricket frogs and other species of Anaxyrus toads (North American toads).
We purchased captive bred tadpoles from breeders in the US to start us off. Tadpoles require daily husbandry but are pretty easy once set up! They eat a LOT of blanched greens / powdered fish flake. The toad and treefrog tads were hardy and easy. The bullfrog tadpoles were not hardy and definitely inconvenient - they would die off more easily and didn't seem to have reliable appetites. This could have been the particular stock we got, but they were definitely more involved.
Toadlets / Froglets
Juveniles and Beyond
How do you cull feeder amphibians?
You'll find that details for culling frogs and toads are hard to come by online. Clove oil is a great option for euthanasia, but compromises the ability to then use that animal as a food item. Amphibians are extremely tolerant of low oxygen, low temperature environments and I am also not familiar with if carbon dioxide exposure on their very sensitive skin is distressing from the formation of carbonic acid. These are all things we're cognizant of and hope to consider as we refine a compassionate and humane way of culling these animals.
Our two current methods:
If you are able to aquire live prey items, feeding live. This can help with stimulating feeding behavior. Frogs and toads* are extremely unlikely to injure a predator and if the intended recipient is not interested, they can be safely retrieved to try later. *toads do produce toxins that not all snakes are tolerant of
The gradual cool and freeze method involves moving the animals to be culled into the fridge to start. We keep them in their enclosure so they simply hunker down into their hide and drop their metabolism to correspond to this cold front coming through! After at least 12hr in the fridge, we then move them into the freezer. Once they are thoroughly frozen, we remove them from their tubs and package them individually or in groups, in little containers of dechlorinated water. This is my current best guess as to how to store them frozen without them desiccating / freezer burning drastically.
Are you interested in purchasing feeder frogs or toads from us?
Here's our current pricing, based on local pickup in Omaha:
Live: Based on size.
- $10ea for toadlets up to 1.0g
- $15ea for 1.1-2.0g
- $20ea 2.1-5.0g
- $30ea for 5.1-10g
- tbd if we'll end up having any available over 10g!
Frozen: Not currently available
Cuban tree frogs
Live Small Froglets: (0.2-0.5g/ea)
- $20 for 1, 2, or 3
- $20 for 4 ($5/ea)
- 5+ are all $5/ea
Frozen: Will consider offering frozen on request, most likely $5/ea with a minimum of 6.
Live: $5/ea for froglets up to 15g, $10/ea for small frogs 15g+.
Frozen: $20/pack of 4 froglets totaling 36g.