Sunday, January 15, 2012

Inside the New Exhibits | part 2 — Costa Rica

The 'new' frog exhibits: Frogs and Plants of Panama (left), the Amazon (center) and Costa Rica (right) as they look in May 2012 (this post has been back-dated)
(Continued from Part 1) I started with the Costa Rica exhibit — the first exhibit one sees as they approach. Dante and I decided to try three tricky (shy) species all in the same exhibit: Glass frogs (Cochranella granulosa), Lemur frogs (Agalychnis lemur) and Green and black poison frogs (Dendrobates auratus). We had never tried to display either Glass frogs or Lemur frogs before, despite having worked with both groups for many years at the Garden. I have to imagine this is because they are nocturnal and extremely shy. Glass frogs, for instance, are not only shy, but are transparent! Terrible qualities for selecting an animal to exhibit. Lemur frogs are also challenging as during the day they disappear, seemingly adhered to the underside of leaves. Even Green and black poison frogs are shy for a poison frog.

These are soils, but I consider them substrates. Just one of the examples of how many resources I have at my disposal.

The empty glass as it arrived from the manufacturer

Bird's eye view of the false-bottom and 'roots' to hide it. The exposed roots towards the bottom of the picture contain the water feature where the Lemur frog tadpoles are.

Looking into the exhibit before substrate and plants have been added.

Piper ... it is a much taller now than in this picture. You can usually see at least one Glass frog on its leaves and one Lemur frog sleeping underneath them

This Ludovia quickly became the plant of choice for smaller Lemur frogs. 
Agalychnis lemur, the Lemur frog is a critically endangered species that we have been breeding in captivity for over ten years. I believe this was one of the first species that caught the attention of the program's founder. These are just a few of the reasons why it was important to try and display some of these beautiful animals. I wanted to provide them with plenty of leaves to hide under, but ideally leaves that would also provide some line of sight to the frogs, which would undoubtedly be sleeping throughout most of the day.

Agalychnis lemur | Lemur leaf frog
Obviously, it is advantageous for the Lemur frogs to hide in this manner when they are sleeping. In my experience, once you know how to find them, it is quite interesting to know that there are 9 large tree frogs hiding right in front of your nose. At night, when they are awake, they turn a reddish-brown color and are quite alert looking for food!