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Flying Foam Nest Frogs - Rhacophorus leucomystax Print E-mail

Flying Foam Nest Frog

Rhacophorus (Polypedates) leucomystax

The Animal
Flying Frog

There are so many species of frog available to the home herpetologist that no matter what type of housing you have available with a little research you should be able to find a frog that thrives in it.

The foam nest frogs are so called because rather than depositing eggs in water like our European frogs these types create a foam mass in to which the eggs are deposited, usually above standing water.

The foam nest frogs are so called because rather than depositing eggs in water like our European frogs these types create a foam mass in to which the eggs are deposited, usually above standing water.
They are usually found in rice fields, around farm buildings and any human habitation where insects are attracted in large numbers; they are found much less in deep forest. If you like your frogs to sing then this is the frog for you! These are an ideal 'starter' frog as they are very resilient but bear in mind their lifespan can be in excess of 6 years.
Cryptically this frog can change colour depending on the temperature, humidity level and mood. The natural colouration is an olive green colour with brown marbling but the same frog may be pale coloured a few hours later so colour is not a good identification method. This is a frog I have bred over several generations in order to create colour variations including bright orange and yellows; these make a unique display animal that is clearly visible against green foliage.
Captive Care

In captivity a tall tank is preferable as the frogs need the height, ideally the tank needs to be around 18 inches x 18 inches square and 3 feet high to allow planting with broad leaved plants and smooth, stout branches.

This size tank will accommodate 3 males and a female and has around ¼ of the lid area as mesh ventilation to prevent the build up of stale air. A similar set up could be achieved using a standard 36 inch long aquarium with suitable lid although the frogs would not be able to climb so high it would still be adequate.

In order to get the frogs to interact with each other you will need at least 2 males present, this creates sexual competition in the tank and so the frogs will readily have advertising competitions with their clack, clack calls.

There are several variations on the call depending on what the male frog is doing at the time, some are short loud individual clicks others are repetitive and quieter calls.

Foam Nest Frog
The base of the tank should be covered in a mixture of orchid bark and activated charcoal (90/10) to a depth of 3 inches. The orchid bark helps maintain the moisture whilst the charcoal will prevent any odors and help keep the substrate fresh. On top of this basic mix should be a layer of live moss, this can be sphagnum moss or carpet moss. The substrate should not be allowed to dry out but should be kept constantly damp to the touch. This is the 'basic' substrate that can be used for many land living amphibians; more advanced substrates can be created where a permanent body of water is needed.

As these frogs are tree dwellers they will also need some branches to perch on, I find that the natural sandblasted grapevine stumps available add both interest and safe perches. If using natural wood in the set up please make sure that there are no splintery edges and any sharp bits or short side branches are removed to prevent the frogs from harming themselves.

Natural plants add both interest and hiding places but this does mean the use of full spectrum lighting to allow the plants to grow well, the term for the conversion of day light to food by plants is photosynthesis. If using live plants then it is best to leave them in their pots so they can easily be removed for cleaning or changing. Artificial plants can be used but make sure they don't contain any wire which could puncture your frog and that they are well anchored as these frogs can get heavy and easily pull unsteady plants over.

Although mainly a nocturnal animal the females can often be found basking under a 60w daylight spot light where the temperature can reach 30C, the males tend prefer a more shady position under a leaf or a dark corner. I use 2% UV tube lighting over the tank as there are live plants and reptile occupants, I still use it over tanks containing just the frogs as they seem to be more 'perky' than those not getting any UV. You did hear me right; there are reptile occupants in with these frogs. I have kept Green Anoles A. carolinensis with several groups of this species with great success. I would not put small Anoles in with large frogs that were not well fed though as the Anole could easily make a meal for a large female frog!
In the evening after the lights (9am - 9pm) have gone off the first calls begin with an individual clack from an early rising male. Not long after the first call the rest will come out of their daytime retreats and head for the perches in readiness for a nights hunting. The female tends to get the best perch every time; this is probably due to her size compared to the male who is only half as big.
They are a very temperature tolerant frog and temperatures can vary quite a bit without any problems. The daytime temperature should be 75F - 85F and a night time the temperature can be allowed to drop to 65F - 75F.
Orange Coloured Morph

Daytime heating is taken care of by a 60w spot light aimed at a high perching area allowing daytime basking combined with a heat mat covering around a third of the base. The spot light should be positioned 10 inches away from the closest point to the tank otherwise the frogs may burn themselves.

Night time heating is taken care of using the under tank heating mat alone or combined with an overhead night time lamp either a red coloured infra red lamp or a blue coloured moonlight lamp. Both of these lamps will provide heat but will not disturb the animals whilst they are hunting.

If your planting allows the use of a medium size waterfall then one should be accommodated as the water source. The splashing of the water attracts the frogs and they use it regularly as a meeting and vantage point, it's also a relaxing sound in the background. If you have no room for a waterfall then a 3 inch deep bowl should be provided. These frogs usually defecate in the water so it will need changing regularly; the bonus is that the substrate and plants should remain fresh for some weeks.
Humidity is important to all amphibians and P leucomystax is no different. Typically if the substrate is damp and the temperature is set to the correct levels then the humidity will take care of itself. A digital temperature and humidity measuring device can be purchased fairly inexpensively and will give you an accurate measurement of both within the tank. The relative humidity level should be between 60% - 80% most of the time, if your tank is drier than this then you can simply spray luke warm water on the substrate to raise the levels.
These are ferocious insectivores and will readily take a wide variety of live foods of various types, the size should be in the 15 - 20mm range for crickets; anything larger may bite back. Medium locusts, small wax worm moths, are all good food sources. The food should be dusted every third day with a good quality multi vitamin powder which should include calcium. The crickets should also be fed on a good quality cricket food, carrots, cabbage, dandelion leaves and cuttle fish bone will all add to the foods nutritional value, this is known as 'gut loading'.
Feed your frogs once a day and allow 5 or 6 crickets or other food items per 'sitting', per animal, this will keep your frogs actively searching for food and will help prevent over crowding of live food in the tank. If food seems to be building up then don't add any further insects until the level is low.
This species has few specialist needs in its breeding cycle. Temperatures, humidity combined with special techniques required to feed the tadpoles makes pre knowledge a great benefit if you want to breed them. The complete article including Breeding in Captivity is available in the downloads section.

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