Centrochelys sulcata (African Spurred Tortoise)
The African Spurred Tortoise (or Sulcata) is indigenous to the southern edge of the Sahara Desert in Africa - a vast difference than all the many tropical critters we keep! They are the largest mainland tortoise in the world, and the 3rd largest tortoise, just below the Galapagos and Aldabra tortoises (which are both from island homes). These gentle giants can weigh over 150 lbs and live over 100 years! Their diet consists of grass, hay and weeds, with occasional treats of veggies and fruit. Coming from the arid desert climate, they can do well in high temperatures with shaded areas they can retreat to if they need to cool down.
We adopted an approx. 13 year old male sulcata from the San Diego Tortoise Society, and he currently weighs around 40 lbs. He has his own tortoise pen outside, and often has the run of the entire back yard here in sunny Southern California! His name is Mack.
Ranitomeya fantastica 'True Nominal'
Originally discovered and named in 1883 by George A. Boulenger, this morph was thought to be extinct due to rampant deforestation, but was recently rediscovered in 2011, near Yurimaguas in Northeastern Peru. This highly sought-after morph of fantastica is known for its striking copper head, white banding and black/blue legs. This morph is thought to be extremely endangered in the wild, with its habitat being quickly taken over by fruit plantations and cattle pastures, and could very well become extinct in the wild within our generation.
We currently have 3 young Nominal fantastica froglets in a 20 gallon custom conversion tank on our rack. We believe them to all be males, so we're keeping an eye out for a female to introduce to them!
Oophaga pumilio 'Charco La Pava'
Another Oophaga pumilio that originates from the Charco La Pava locality in Panama - this gorgeous little frog can come in a variety of different colors. Typically some shade of orange, these frogs may range in color from bright yellow to dark red. Some may or may not have the spotting on their dorsal area, but all typically have bright blue, mottled legs. While many dart frogs will often display a large variety of patterns and even shades or hues of a single color, not many are known to have such varied color variations within the same species locale. These frogs are truly unique, and absolutely gorgeous to behold in person!
We currently have 6 Charco La Pavas in our large 100 gallon display vivarium, which we think might be a 4.2 group.
Phyllobates terribilis 'Orange'
Also known as the "Golden Poison Dart Frog" or the "Terrible Dart Frog", this cute little guy is considered one of (if not the) most toxic vertebrate animals on the planet! They get their name from their bright yellow or orange colored skin, and their reputation from that same highly toxic skin. The toxins on this frog are so powerful, one dose carried (about 1 milligram) has enough poison to kill two bull elephants! It's these frogs that native South Americans would use to coat their blow darts with and use for hunting. This species is also the largest of the dart frog family. Sadly, these frogs are endangered in the wild, where their native rain forest home along the coast of Colombia is being slowly decimated from deforestation.
We currently have 4 young Orange Terribilis froglets being raised in a grow out bin until we build them a grand new display home!
Ranitomeya fantastica 'Reticulated'
Endemic to Peru, the relatively small known range of fantastica spans only north eastern San Martin and neighboring regions of extreme western Loreto, and is predominantly a lowland species inhabiting forested regions. The reticulated morph of fantastica is a very elusive frog, and somewhat smaller than the other morphs in the species. They are known for their striking gold and white stripes along their jet black bodies.
We currently have 3 Reticulated fantastica in a 12x12x18 Exo Terra tank on our rack. Though we still haven't heard calling or seen any courting, we're still hoping for a pair!
R. vanzolinii's habitat stretches spottily from east central Peru all the way to western Brazil, where they are found mostly in the lower strata of the rain forest, as they typically don't venture too far up into the canopy. Sadly, the two main populations of these frogs found in Atalaya and Sepahua, have been decimated through illegal collecting and smuggling. The first legal exports of these frogs came from Understory Enterprises back in 2008, which is where our frogs' lineage originates. Like most Ranitomeya species, these frogs display bi-parental care of their offpsring where the male will call with a loud trill-like sound to beckon the female to come feed the tadpoles with unfertilized eggs. And their spots! Vanzolinii are one of the few dart frogs with uniform spot patterns -which are absolutely striking to witness up close and in person.
We currently have 3 vanzos in a beautiful new 12x12x18 Zoomed tank. We know 1 is male, and are hoping for a pair!
Correlophus ciliatus (Crested Gecko)
Oddly enough, this very popular and readily available gecko was thought to be extinct until rediscovered in 1994. Originating from the southern part of the New Caledonia mainland, where they are mostly arboreal - living up in trees and canopies - these nocturnal geckos like warm, humid environments. Known for their hair-like projections above their eyes (that resemble eyelashes), that run like a crest from head to tail, they are commonly called "crested" or "eyelash" geckos. These geckos are extremely popular in the pet trade, as they make wonderful reptilian pets due to their ease of keeping and great temperaments. They are commonly bred by many keepers looking to create highly colorful and beautifully patterned individuals.
We currently have 4 small juvenile cresties that live together in a 12x12x18 Exo Terra tank. They are lovingly adopted by our 4 kids!
The photos below are our very own, actual frogs and other creatures!
Ranitomeya imitator 'Varadero'
One of our first and favorite species of dart frog, the imitator Varadero is an amazing frog to watch and observe. Brightly colored with metallic hues of orange over stark black bodies and bright blue legs, these little frogs are bold and alert, and will spend their time exploring their whole tank. One unique fact about these imitators is that they are one of the very few monogamous vertebrate animals, and they also display biparental care of their offspring. Meaning, a male and female will mate only with each other, and both parents will help care for the tadpoles. It's a truly amazing aspect of these little frogs that is a rare occurrence in nature!
We currently have a breeding pair of varadero, along with 3 of their strikingly colored offspring we've held back.
Oophaga pumilio 'Black Jeans'
These beautiful red and black pumilio dart frogs are native to the Siquirres and Puerto Viejo de Sarapiqui areas of Costa Rica. They are known and named for their black spotted patterns which extend down to typically solid black legs - which look like a pair of jeans! This locale of Oophaga pumilio is also known to be one of the largest in the pumilio species. Maybe just a matter or taste and style, but the 'Black Jeans' pumilio is quite similar to its close cousin, the 'Blue Jeans' pumilio - which, as you can guess, have bright blue speckling and leg coloring.
We just recently got a couple young Black Jeans froglets that are set up in a beautiful new 12x12x18 ZooMed tank on our rack.
Rhacodactylus leachianus (New Caledonian Giant Gecko)
Rhacodactylus leachianus (or endearingly called "Leachies") are endemic to the main island of New Caledonia and its surrounding smaller islands. These geckos are the largest species of gecko in the world, growing up to 14 inches, and have been known to live over 30 years! They are typically arboreal geckos that live in tree hollows, and eat a variety of insects, fruit and even small vertebrates. These animals are also known to make many different sounds, from grunts and growls to squeaks and whistles!
We currently have one little probable female about 6 months old in a small growout tank that will be upgraded as she grows! She is a rare island locale from a Nuu Ana x Duu Ana cross. Her name is Moana!
Dendrobates tinctorius 'Robertus'
Native to southern Suriname, South America, this morph of tinctorius is almost exclusively terrestrial, and spends most its time on the ground. Very active and bold frogs, the tinctorius species are some of the largest of the poison dart frogs - growing to almost 3 inches in some cases. In captivity, a varied and plentiful diet of insects will help them reach their full potential size. The striking color combinations in the Robertus morph is truly spectacular to behold.
We currently have 2 young Robertus tincs we just introduced into their new 24x18x18 Exo Terra vivarium. They look to be 2 females!
Dendrobates Leucomelas 'Standard'
Commonly referred to as the "Bumblebee Dart Frog", Dendrobates Leucomelas (or Leucs) are a very common beginner species for frog enthusiasts - and for good reason! They have striking yellow and black coloring with no two patterns the same between frogs, they have a very neat call that sounds almost bird-like, they are easy to care for and easy to breed, and they are great kept in groups. If kept under ideal conditions in captivity, Leucs are known to live well over 20 years! Our standard morph is native to Venezuela.
We currently have 3 sub-adult Leucs in an 18" cube Exo Terra tank on our rack. We believe to have 1 male and 2 females, who we hope will start breeding in the coming months.
Ranitomeya variabilis 'Southern'
These frogs are widely distributed throughout the east-Andean versant of Peru and Ecuador and adjacent lowlands. This morph bears striking resemblance to their northern (nominal) species of variabilis, but is unique in that they are typically larger than the northern morphs, and have a more solid blue hue to their legs under the black spotting. They are a great community frog that thrive in bromeliad-heavy environments, where they will lay their eggs and deposit their tadpoles. They have a unique and quiet call that sounds like a squeaky chair! The R. imitator is a Müllerian mimic of R. variabilis.
We have an extremely prolific group of 6 Southerns in an 18x18x24 Exo Terra tank. We believe we have at least 2 pairs that are producing eggs, as there are usually several clutches laid very close together. These are great group frogs, and very active and bold!
What's next on our list?
We love keeping and caring for dart frogs (and other critters!), and with so many different species out there, all with their own unique coloring and personalities, it's hard to choose! We are currently working on a couple more tanks to house some new, exciting frogs!
We're always trying to find new ways to add to our collection, so check back again soon to see what's new!
Oophaga pumilio 'Punta Laurel'
A small, predominantly green morph of pumilio, these frogs originated from the Punta Laurel locale in Bocas Del Toro, Panama. Their black spotted green backs with yellow-green bellies provide excellent camouflage in their densely planted rain forest habitats. Their back legs can vary in hues of brown or blue with black spots. This frog has a semi-loud call that is distinct to most pumilio species. Another obligate egg feeder, this species' tadpoles need to be raised by the parents, with the female laying unfertilized eggs for the tadpole to eat.
We currently have a very prolific breeding pair of Punta Laurels who are set up in a nice, bromeliad-heavy 20 gallon vertical tank.
Mniarogekko chahoua (Chahoua Gecko)
The Mniarogekko chahoua is more commonly known as the mossy New Caledonian gecko, short-snouted New Caledonian gecko, Bavay's giant gecko, or mossy prehensile-tailed gecko. These geckos are found in the same island country of New Caledonia along with Leachianus and Crested Geckos, but their shorter snouts and fully prehensile tails easily set them apart from their local cousins. They are a mostly arboreal species that are only found in areas of the Mainland and Pine Island. Their care is quite inevitably much the same as their two other close relatives.
We just acquired a very rare mainland line from a local breeder who is unsuitable for breeding purposes, and we plan to give him or her a loving permanent home. It hatched in September of 2017, so it's still too young to know the sex.
Ranitomeya sirensis ( lamasi ) 'Highland' or 'Tingo Maria'
The brilliantly colored, predominately striped Peruvian species of Ranitomeya known as lamasi (a junior synonym for sirensis) were reclassified in 2011 to be named sirensis. Until the reclassification, the bright yellow, black-striped morph with bright blue legs with black spots was considered the nominat morph. This frog is from the Tingo María highlands and is still referred to by many as the ‘standard lamasi’. These are now variously known as Ranitomeya sirensis ‘Tingo María’, R. sirensis ‘Highland’, or most often, highland sirensis. This morph of sirensis is quite rare, and highly sought after in the hobby.
We currently have 1 male and 2 females. We've gotten some eggs from them, but none have been viable yet - hopefully soon!
Oophaga pumilio 'El Dorado'
The El Dorado locale of pumilio was first imported into the US in 2008 from the Panamanian rain forests around the Las Tablas region. Named for their very bold coloring of rich yellow or orange, these are one of the larger pumilio species, growing to about .75 - 1 inch. Even while tending to be a shy species, these bright colored frogs can be found exploring all areas of their natural habitat. Pumilio are considered obligate egg feeders, meaning they need to take care of their tadpoles without human interference, as the tadpoles will only eat unfertilized eggs laid by the female.
We currently have a proven breeding pair of these striking frogs, with several little froglets being raised in the tank!
Ranitomeya fantastica 'Caynarachi'
Originating from the Alto Caynarachi Valley near the Cordillera Escalera regoin of Tarapoto, Peru, these beautiful fantasticas are found in the forested areas and river valleys. These extremely alert frogs are often quick to flee when danger approaches. They are known to lay their eggs in the leaf litter on the forest floor, then transport hatched tadpoles to water filled bromeliads or tree holes. Several fantastica species are well known for their striking copper heads and beautifully patterned bodies.
We currently have 3 Caynarachi fants in a 12x12x18 ZooMed tank - 2 adults, and 1 juvenile. We're still not sure of their sexes yet, as we have not heard any calling or seen any courting. We're still crossing our fingers for a pair!
Dendrobates tinctorius 'Azureus'
Also known as the "Dying Blue Dart Frog", the D. tinctorius Azureus is native to the Sipaliwini Savanna in southern Suriname, South America, where they inhabit small isolated forests and can be found on the ground near streams and moss covered rocks. Their bright blue coloring serves as a warning to would be predators in the wild that signifies their toxic skin. These frogs can grow to 2.5 - 3 inches, and can live over 20 years in captivity! Each frog has a different pattern of spots that serves like a fingerprint to identify individuals. These frogs reach sexual maturity around 12-18 months, and at that time we are able to identify the sex of each frog.
We currently have 1 male and 3 females who just reached their sexual maturity, and have already started breeding! They are currently living in our 100 gallon display tank.