Regular showers have done nothing to cool the ardour of one group of testosterone-fueled males in Brighton! Quite the opposite – they have convinced the male poison dart frogs in the Sea Life Centre’s rainforest attraction that breeding season has arrived. The colourful jungle hoppers which produce a skin toxin used by Amazon tribes to tip their spears with, have begun a noisy serenade of croaks and chirrups in the hope of attracting mates.
“They breed in the monsoon season, and choose somewhere dark and wet to lay their eggs,” explained curator Carey Duckhouse. “We have 18 frogs of five different species, and decided to see if we could stimulate a bit of courtship with a regular sprinkling of warm water,” she added. The ploy worked a treat, and now the males of all five species are busy trying to best each other in the voice projection stakes.
“The slightly larger females respond to the loudest, most macho singers,” said Carey. “There’s a bit of a racket going on to be honest.“We’ve actually had one clutch of eggs laid already as a result, but we don’t think this first batch is fertile.”
All captive-bred, the Brighton frogs in their Rainforest Adventure home are actually nowhere near as toxic as their wild cousins, which get their poisons from feasting on specific plants.“Ours dine almost exclusively on tiny black crickets,” said Carey.
Only about a year old, Carey believes they may yet be too young to breed successfully, but the display has been equipped with a few nice moist petri dishes which are perfect for egg-laying. “If we’re lucky, and we get some eggs hatching out the male will carry the tadpoles on his back to find a nice shallow pool to pop them in. “In the wild that would be in a large-leaved bromeliad plant, but here, we will collect up the tadpoles and rear them in a nursery tank behind the scenes.”
Meanwhile, the male frogs are attracting lots of attention with their own version of an X-Factor sing-off!
Published 4th September 2014
All news stories