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 50 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 2 Nominal fantasticas in a 20 gallon custom conversion tank on our rack. We know one to be male and hope the other is a female, though we haven't noticed any signs of breeding yet.
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 5 Charco La Pavas in our large 100 gallon display vivarium, which we are pretty certain are all males!
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 a loving permanent home. He hatched in September of 2017, and we named him Chalupa Batman.
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 3 Southerns in an 18x18x24 Exo Terra tank, we hope are 1.2 trio. 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!
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 2 of their offspring we've held back. They are in an 18-18-24 tank.
Trioceros jacksonii (Jackson's Chameleon)
While originally native to the East African woodlands and forests of Kenya and Tanzania, these chameleons can also be found living as wild populations in Hawaii and Florida, where they were accidentally introduced during the 1970's. Best known for their prehistoric-looking 3 large horns growing on the male's head, they are truly a sight to behold! Fun fact: unlike most reptiles who are oviparous (egg-layers), these chameleons give birth to live young after their gestation and can have up to 30 babies!
We currently have a large WC male that we keep in a 2' x 2 'x 4' screen cage outdoors mostly, when the weather permits.
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 a quickly growing young female (hatched 10/2016) in an 18x18x24 tank that will be upgraded as she gets bigger. She is a rare island locale from a Nuu Ana x Duu Ana cross. Her name is Moana, and she is an absolute sweetheart!
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 recently re-acquired 4 young juvenile Reticulated fants from a friend, and are in the process of building them a new tank!
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!
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 Orange terribilis we recently upgraded into a 36"x18"x24" (67 gallons) Exo Terra display tank.
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 5 juvenile Azureus that are living in our 100 gallon display tank.
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 have a 1.1 proven pair of these neon spotted frogs in a 20 gallon conversion tank.
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 a 1.1 pair that live together in a 18x18x24 Exo Terra tank. We also just found their first 2 babies this September!
Ranitomeya uakarii 'Gold Legged'
These little beauties are widely distributed throughout the Amazon basin, and can be found throughout southern and central Peru, western Brazil, Colombia, and central Guyana. They are a relatively smaller species of Ranitomeya, and prefer to spend much of their time on the forest floor. Fortunately, since these frogs have such a wide natural range, they are not critically threatened by habitat loss or smuggling.
We recently acquired 3 sub-adults of these beauties, and they visually look to be a 1.2 trio, so we're hoping for some courting soon!
Oophaga histrionica 'Redhead'
Oophaga histrionica is found in tropical rain forests from western Ecuador, north through the region of Colombia. While found often on the forest floor among fallen branches and leaf litter, the habitat of this particular locale is often comprised of shear vertical cliff faces. Often called the "Harlequin" poison dart frog, the Redhead variation is easily depicted by the deep and saturated red coloring atop their heads. Like other Oophaga, these large obligates will raise their tadpoles by giving them unfertilized eggs to feed on while they grow.
We currently have a juvenile Redhead in a beautiful 24"x18"x24" Exo Terra display tank, and can't wait to find it a companion!
Ameerega pepperi 'Yellow/Gold'
Previously classified as A. bassleri, in 2009 Brown recognized distinctions in call, genetics and distribution and they have been elevated to their own species status of A. pepperi. Native to the Cordillera Azul range in central Peru, A. pepperi are most frequently seen near streams in these montane regions. Interestingly, the northern most populations of pepperi show more yellow coloring, while they tend to show more orange in populations as you move south. The southernmost populations have red coloring.
We currently have a proven pair of these gorgeous frogs, along with 1 of their offspring in our newly set up 54 gallon corner bowfront display tank! The pair laid their first clutch (for us) in March 2019!
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 have a gorgeous proven pair of these awesomely colored frogs who are giving us nice clutches of eggs!
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 a proven, breeding pair of Caynarachi that are sporadically giving us clutches of viable eggs and tadpoles.