Frog Health & Quarantine Tank
Why do I need this?
If you plan on keeping frogs, having a Quarantine and a Hospital tank is essential. Exotics can become pricey, losing even one is emotional, at the least, expensive. As frog species decline, the thought of accidently killing a rare or hard to breed frog is a terrible loss. By setting up a sterile, hospital-like area to protect your others (or even save the one) from a potential catastrophe is wise.
The need to protect your Main vivarium also comes into reason. you don't want to infect already healthy frog stock that you have in the main vivarium with potentially unhealthy frogs you've just acquired. For these reasons, both the Hospital Tank and the Quarantine Tank are musts for people who are serious about their expensive pets.
First things First
There are a few simple rules to the beginning of treatment and emergency care for your frog. The Quarantine and Hospital tank, should optimally be placed in a room far away from the main vivarium or other frog tanks. They should stand alone, and have no other tanks nearby. Separate the two as well. The Hospital tank is used to help frogs you already know are sick, the Quarantine tank is used for newly acquired frogs for observation, to make sure they don't have any "bugs" that could be passed on to your main collection.
The room should be quiet and dark; the less foot-traffic entering here, the better. Disturbance in this room needs to be kept to a bare minimum. A basement is good, (if you supply proper heating and keep cold drafts away). The only other tank that should be in this room could be the "Humidifying Chamber", and this should be placed away from the other two tanks.
For both the Hospital and Quarantine tanks, a 10 to 20 gallon aquarium is usually efficient. The size dictated will of course, be by the species you are keeping. If you have "Rana Catesbiana", otherwise known as the American bullfrog, you will obviously need larger tanks. If African Clawed frogs or 2"-3" treefrogs are your passion, a 10 gallon tank will most likely do the trick. Besides the tanks, you will need the beginning list posted below:
Here's a link to the table: Supply List Table
Setting it all up
The tanks themselves should be as "bare minimum" as possible. Glass tanks are preferred over acrylic in that they don't scratch as easily, making them easier to sterilize after you have put the quarantined or sick frog back into the vivarium. This allows you to easily clean and maintain the tank as the frogs come and go through treatments.
Treefrogs will need a bit extra. Put some cuttings from a "pothos" plant in a clean jar of aged water in the tank for them to feel more secure. These cuttings should be properly disposed of when the treatment is finished. (Make sure the jar is not top-heavy so frog cannot spill) More on Proper Disposal later on in the page.
Regular Rana-frogs and other terrestrial frogs can be given some smooth round stones to help hold down any undue stress.
Don't use the man-made plastic "caves" in quarantine and hospital tanks...plastics can scratch, creating havens for bacteria and fungus to live in. Use white paper towels as a substrate in the hospital tank. Change them daily when the tank is in use.
In quarantine tanks I use sphagnum moss as the substrate. It holds more moisture and allows the frogs a place to hide. Feed the frogs in these tanks from a feeding dish if possible. Another benefit to using sphagnum moss is that it has natural anti-bacterial qualities to it, brought about by the tannins that are present within it.
Make sure the frog has an accessible glass dish of water, low enough that he can bathe in it if he wishes. Use treated, aged h20 and change daily. Humidity should be monitored by use of an hygrometer.
Place a thermometer in the tank, and if you live in a cold northern climate, a Herp heater pad underneath is also in order. (Heating pads heat air more evenly) You'll need it anyway, for certain treatments. Don't use heating pads made for humans...the temperature range is too hot for amphibians!
Mist the frog's tank lightly to help with humidity levels. (don't mist the frog, they seem to hate water sprayed directly on them) If frog does not eat the insects you've offered him overnight, promptly remove and discard properly. Do not offer the insects to your other pets!
Whenever you purchase any new tank and after any treatment, you will need to sterilize the tank. Using an eye dropper that is specifically for this purpose, use 10 drops of bleach per gallon of water. Thoroughly scrub and swirl the water in the tank. Let it set for about 3 hours. Then rinse out with clean water.
Add 3 tablespoons of table salt, swirl and make sure salt gets up the sides of the glass. Let sit overnight. Then rinse with treated water at least 3 times, to remove all residual salt and any bleach that may have survived the salt treatment. Let dry. Finally, mist the entire dried tank with an anti-fungal spray and allow it to dry before adding any items back into the system.
Skipping the bleach or salt treatment listed is risky, to say the least, and may defeat the entire reason for quaranting in the first place. Bleach kills one type of "nasty", and the salt treatment eliminates the others. Combined, they kill 99.99% of any bacteria, protozoan, or other virus we are looking to be rid of. Don't get in a rush, patience works well when setting up a Hospital and Quarantine Tank. Running the quarantines takes even more patience, but is well worth it.
To make salt sterilize treatment up for future use, such as anti-fungal treating of vivarium that is established, use 1 tablespoon table salt per gallon of pre-treated aged water. Store it in a cool, dark place and use within 6 weeks. Shake it well before using.
Quat is a trusted herp anti-fungal spray that can be added to a misting bottle and used to keep mildew and other fungal type growths from erupting in your vivariums. This is a big problem for froggers, as anurans need a moist environment, as does mold and other fungus. Use about once a week to control, and mix as directed on the label.
When you're ready to clean the entire tank try a stronger anti-fungal, anti-bacterial spray such as Wipe Out 1 pictured to your left. There is also Wipe Out 2 that will get the remainder Wipe Out 1 did not.
Anuran Rearing and Plant Sterilizing Solution
To keep zoospores from multiplying
on your frog eggs, tadpoles and plants, use the following solution:
Mix 0.3 mg. Methylene Blue and 2 mg. Benzalk Oniumchloride in 1000 ml. distilled water. Mix as much as needed. I use this on tadpoles I think are vurnerable, (soak them for 6 hours before slowly re-adapting them back to their normal water) as well as to soak plants in to stop chytridiomycosis and other fungal zoospores from entering my vivariums.
Disposing of all materials you use in the sterilizing and treatment has to be done without risking contamination of wild populations of amphibians. To accomplish this, you should place all used materials in a new plastic bag. Before you tie the bag shut, spray the entire lot with a 3% bleach solution that you have placed in a misting bottle. Then tie the bag shut and place in the garbage. Wash your hands.
The reason for all the extra trouble is simple. Should any of the bacteria or viruses that were present be allowed to reach the city dump it could present a problem, as the bag will break down and unsprayed items could infect other amphibians. Frogs already face enough threats without mankind re-exposing them to things we can avoid. Be responsible. The extra cleanliness you impose now could later on save many animals from sickness and infection, and death.
If by some stroke of bad luck you end up with a bacteria or viral infection in the main vivarium or aquatic tank, it will have to be sterilized too.
In the case of contagious diseases, the soil-less mix, sphagnum moss or organic soil will also have to be disposed of. The gravel can be put through the bleach and salt treatment described above. Place it in a separate plastic container and add the bleach. Let it soak just like the tank. Don't forget the salt! Remember, Salt kills some things that even the bleach does not. Dispose of all the contaminated soil and the plants as described above.
If you are using plastics in the tank, (water dish, etc.) make sure they are not scratched up. (nasties like to hide in cracks) and sterilize them too. Anything that is in the contaminated tank must be sterilized or disposed of.
Your hands and Frogs
Sterilizing your hands often and washing them carefully in hot, soapy water is critical when you are working around your sick (or even healthy) frogs. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds (time it!) and scrub vigorously up to you elbows. Rinse twice as long. Make sure that if you have long nails that you have gotten all the soap residue from underneath your nails. Dry with a clean paper towel and turn off the faucet with the used towel, not your hands!Finish off with by dumping some anti-bacterial hand sanitizer gel over your hands, let it dry and then rinse hands in cold, clean water. Remember, sanitizers and soap can kill your frogs, so residue must be removed!
Soap kills bacteria if you've applied properly, but it does NOT kill viruses! To prevent the spreading of viruses among frog communities you are keeping, use disposable gloves. Throw them in the disposal bin mentioned above when finished. Don't even think about "recycling the gloves", its a one-time use only! You can buy boxes of these gloves at Home Depot in the paint department. Rinse each pair you use in cool treated water before using, as they have placed a cornstarch powder on them to prevent them from sticking together in the package. You don't want cornstarch in the vivarium or on frog skin. Cornstarch is a drying agent, very bad for an animal that breathes air and water through its' skin!
I cannot reiterate this point enough to you the Reader.... Never touch one vivarium and then another...without washing your hands first!. If you are caring for a sick frog, try as much as possible to stay away from the main collection until it is well. See if another family member can feed them until you get the sick one back on his feet. Under no circumstances, should you touch the sick one and then go and handle frogs (even if you do wash your hands) in the main tank. You will be inviting big trouble....Frogs don't enjoy being handled to start with. Even when your animals are well, keep handling to a minimum.
However, there are times you will need to handle your frogs. The proper way to hold a frog is by holding him gently in your palm with your index and long finger on either side of his mouth, in case he tries to jump. Using two hands is better whenever possible, as you can "cup" your other hand over the top of the frog to help prevent him from jumping. If he's not too long, you should be able to tuck your pinky finger between his two hind legs, which will prevent him from squirming out of your hand in a rear direction. If you feel him trying to jump and feel you may lose him, lower your hand quickly, (so his fall is not so high) and clean him off in distilled or pre-treated water before returning him to his vivarium.
Another thing to remember; if you're a smoker, be sure to wash your hands extra carefully. The tar and nicotine residue that stays on your hands can poison your pets.
Frogs are active and slippery creatures. When you need to either hold him or calm him, in order to treat the problem, using anesthetics can be of value to the both of you. A calm frog is less likely to try and jump away, possibly harming himself in the process. It also makes it easier for you to either use a stomach syringe or give a subcutaneous injection.
I have used the product Hypno for years, and with the proper dosage, even my African clawed frogs stay calm enough to allow me to hold them momentarily, and give them a shot. There is a strong caution to go along with this! Over-use of anesthetics can cause your frog internal organ damage, so use only as necessary. When you have finished the treatment, immediately rinse the frog in clean, distilled water and then soak him in a 10 minute bath of treated water to help get the Hypno out of his system. Make sure the water is the exact same temperature as the water he's been in.
Using a Syringe
When shots are required, try for muscular shots. There are faster ways to get the medication into his bloodstream, but they are much too risky for those not familiar with the process. A fat inner-thigh is a great place to aim.
After preparing the syringe with medication, turn it with needle pointing towards sky. Look closely, shake and tap with index finger to send any bubbles to the top by needle. Now carefully squeeze the syringe handle until liquid drops come from the tip. Removing air bubbles is very important. Air injected into frog will kill him.
When you're ready, hold the frog firmly but gently, and make an angled-entry under the skin, but enough of a straight-shot to hit the thigh-muscle/fat. Don't go too deep, but you should be able to "feel" when muscle has been contacted. Inject the fluid quickly. Remove needle and place in cleaning receptacle. Spray him with an antifungal spray you have in misting bottle, making sure to get the area where you punctured him and then begin the rinsing treatment listed above to remove the Hypno anestheia.
Wash all the items you used in the process, and sterilize any needles of syringes with a soak in alcohol overnight. The needles should then be left to soak in a bath of salt 1 hour. Rinse in fresh, distilled water, being sure to 'squirt' the syringe several times in and out to remove any residuals. Dispose of paper towels, gloves, etc. properly.
Quarantine Time, or "The New Guy on the block"
Whenever you add a new frog to your collection, you will need to quarantine him/them first. Use the Quarantine tank for this. Keeping the new frog separated from the main Vivarium gives you an opportunity to observe the animal closer, and treat any illness that may arise. A time-frame of 12 to 14 weeks is usually sufficent to allow any virus, fungus or bacterial problem that the newcomer may have to show up and then allow you to treat it. Under no circumstances should you go under 3 months for the Quarantine time!
The use of this tank keeps the potential virus or bacteria out of the main tank, and contained. It is much easier to try to fight the infection from the Hospital tank and only have to treat one frog, than rushing the pet into the vivarium with the rest and then having to try and save your entire population! Remember, if you do end up with an infection in the main tank, you will have to sterilize the entire system, as well as treat all of the frogs living there.
Never mix frogs that are being quarantined either. If you buy two frogs that were in separate tanks, then two Quarantine tanks are required. Mixing them can defeat the purpose of quarantining altogether.
Froggy needs a Bath
Some treatment routines will call for a " bath ". A round, new tupperware container with lid will suffice. With an ice pick, poke many holes in the lid so the frog will be able to get fresh air while he is in the container. Make the bath up to the amount prescribed by the treatment, and allow frog to soak in it. Don't pick up the container and try swirling the water around, trying to "coat" the whole frog! You'll scare him, and he will absorb the treatment through his drink patch. Sterilize extra carefully the tupperware bottom and lid before using again. It's plastic, so needs to soak full time in order to remove any nasties. Wash your hands!
A Hydration, or Humidifying; Chamber can be a lifesaving aide in a dehydrated frogs treatment. This can happen if your frog accidentally escapes from his normal home you've created for him, or with some horrible mishap in the main tank, (like the water dried out or the tank accidentally drained!) If you have the good fortune of already owning a Rain chamber, they are very similar to this, and if you weren't using the Rain chamber for frog breeding, you could easily rehabilitate the frog there. If you don't have a Rain chamber, you may need the Hydration chamber.
A very small submersible pump can be placed in the bottom of a three gallon glass tank, and route the water lift up to the tanks' screen or acrylic top. There you have placed a clean and sterilized plastic tupperware (with small holes in bottom) in which the water tube will drain. As the water flows into the tupperware, it will now 'rain' down back into the tank through the holes. Watch it carefully for at least 20 minutes when first setting it up to insure that your pump is not too strong; in which case you may have water where you don't want it, or even worse, allow the pump to dry up! For an even more detailed understanding of the Hydration Chambers inner workings, read the page Breeding chamber.
Heat treatments may be called for on the Frog Health Care page. The absolute best heating treatment you can use is simple as well. Herp supply shops sell thin plastic-covered "pads" that put out heat for cold-blooded animals that need constant temperatures. These heat mats are placed underneath the tank. Click Here to read about all the details of this type of treatment.
This may not fall under a quarantine situation, but lets address it here as the frogs will be put into an unusual and stressful time when you may need to do this. Transporting can be made easier on the frogs by breaking them up into groups of 2 to 3, and placing each group into a clean, new, square tupperware container like the one mentioned above. Do not use the quarantine-bath tupperware for transportation!
Place some sphagnum moss that has been soaked in aged treated water in the bottom of containers, and then the frogs. Place the lid with the holes poked in on top, being careful not to pinch an inquisitive finger when shutting. Keep the "traveling toads" away from bright lights while moving and make sure they are cool as well. If they'll be in a car, Do not place the transportation container directly on the floor of the car. It can get very hot from the transmission; cooking your frogs! It is better to place the tupperwares inside a cheap styrofoam cooler with the lid left off. Either run your cars' air conditioner in summer weather or place some ice into the bottom of the cooler. Check on the frogs every hour or so (by peering into container) until they reach their destination. Never leave the car with the frogs inside...it takes only a few minutes to kill them in warm weather!
If your frogs are going to be making a trip in a plane, please read the following
reply to a letter I'd received earlier last year:
I am thinking about having a frog shipped to me. Is this safe for the frog? Are there questions I need to ask the shipper?
Answer: Great question Bee9NotE99! There are many things to consider before having a frog shipped. First off, the container! Make sure that the Shipper has placed some damp moss inside, so the frog will not dry out. This also makes him more comfy. The container should also have air-holes in it, so frog gets fresh air in there while he's traveling. Air travel usually takes frogs to very high altitudes. The air thins out at these levels and it becomes quite cold. If you are having a warm climate exotic shipped, make sure that the Shipper can insure you of the ways he will protect your froggie from these shock elements. (Lining the container with styrofoam is a good start, and leaving the holes for fresh air of course)
Make sure you are given a tracking number by the shipper, so you can "find" the frog in case of any mis-hap. Find out how many days the frog is supposed to be in transit as well. Is the Shipper willing to give you a few names and phone numbers of some of his past clients...otherwise known as references? This is also a good time to ask about the Shippers' willingness to give you a guarantee on the arrival of LIVING frog. If the Shipper cannot meet any of the above requirements, no matter how bad you want the frog, I would strongly suggest that you locate another one that is more willing to meet your high standards.
Also know whether this frog was collected from the wild or is it from his own captive breeding stock. This will give you more knowledge in how to treat the frog upon arrival.
Finally, when your new pet arrives, he may be in shock. Make sure you have the Hospital tank set up and awaiting him for quick transfer. I have noticed that phyllomedusine and atelopus frogs are especially sensitive to shock.
Feed him lightly at first, and try to have no other frogs in there with him upon arrival. He needs some time alone to regain confidence in his new home. 12 weeks is a perfect quarantine time. If after this period he is doing well, perky, eating and shows no signs of any fungal or bacterial infection, you can transfer him to the main population.
If for any reason you end up with a dead frog and need to prepare for a "funeral" of sorts, properly disposing of your pet can potentially save other frogs. Simply flushing him down the toilet is unacceptable. If you are not planning on having a necropsy done, the pet should be placed in a jar filled with table salt, lid screwed tightly on, and placed in garbage or buried, whichever you prefer. Don't just place him in the garbage or bury him in a cardboard box in the back yard, if the poor little frogger had any diseases, you could be re-introducing them to other amphibians. Always think responsibly when dealing with your pets and remember the wild fauna around you too.
In the sad case you need to terminate your frog(s) because of something incurable, contagious, etc. there is a way that I have found seems to not "harm" the frog in question.
Most froggers use the following method to euthanize their frogs. First, place a large drop of Neosporin that contains novacaine onto their frogs, and let it put them to sleep. The novacaine in the Neosporin is the killer, and would not cause the frog any pain. IThere are TWO TYPES of Neosporin, make sure you use the one with novacaine in it for euthanizing, and NEVER for treatment!!.
This only works on frogs. Toads like bufo marinus, or other thicker skinned toads, live right through this. To use this on them is cruel, in my opinion.
Releasing frogs into the wild
Don't do it!!! Many exotics are already invading the territories of the natural frog fauna, and wreaking havoc among them. If you have a pet frog you can no longer care for, don't place him into the environment. Check your local Wildlife extension Offices for more information on what to do in this case. You can also offer him to local Pet shops, or place him in the classified section of The Frog Pond.
Check the websites below for more information on Wildlife help extensions in your local area.