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Thread: Help identifying cause of death.

  1. #1

    Default Help identifying cause of death.

    My Northern leopard frog died a couple of days ago and I’m looking for help trying to identify the cause of death so I can avoid a repeat of this, next time.

    It was very bloated and it hadn't relieved itself in a long time. It was definitely more than just temporary bloating. It didn't look particularly in pain, but it probably was and it stayed still in positions that it would not normally hold that long. For instance, it stood on the edge of its water bowl, looking up and with one leg in the water for hours. Also, sometimes I saw it compressing its body (or trying to), so it really looked like it was trying to pass something that just wouldn't make it out (but it could also just have been spasm... maybe...).

    About a week before it died, I noticed it looked a bit overweight, so I decided to make it skip a few meals. The last time I fed it was a week before its death (almost to the day). It had not pooped in a while, but I wasn’t too worried by that, at first, because it’d been pooping a lot less frequently since I changed its diet to mostly nightcrawlers.

    The swelling might have been due to poor water quality since circumstances led me to delay its water change. There was even a transparent film on the water near the end of that hiatus, at which point I took the time to do a 50% water change. Some of the stuff might have stayed stuck to her because after the full water change I thought she might be shedding when I noticed filmy stuff coming off her in some places.

    The substrate also ran a bit dry (it was still humid, but not as much as I’d like). (Maybe it spent more time than usual in the [dirty] water because of that)
    I don’t think the constipation was the direct cause of the swelling because it was a pretty symmetrical swelling and it was soft, not hard. However, someone suggested maybe something ruptured inside it and the resulting bacterial infection caused the swelling.

    I’m not sure what caused the constipation, but maybe it was blockage due to the fact that its last meal was crickets that I dropped in her terrarium (she might have swallowed mouthfuls of the coconut fiber substrate). Or, could it be the swelling that caused the constipation? It had probably been going on since long before the swelling became sufficient for that.

    I tried honey –and-warm-water baths to see if it would help with the constipation and solve the problem. It was during my third attempt that it died.
    Other possibilities that have come to my mind of have been suggested to me for the cause (at least for the swelling):

    • Bacterial infection due to the dirty water
    • Intoxication due to the dirty water
    • Kidney failure (I don’t think I give her enough vitamins for that though, so I’m not sure what would have caused the kidney failure)

    There was a moderate amount of bloody discharge right before, during, or right after its death. It seemed to have come from the mouth and it was probably not just blood because it held together too much (is seemed to be blood mixed in with a mucusy substance). I don’t know if that’s a sign of anything, though, because I’m thinking the swelling might have crushed some of its organs, causing internal bleeding.

    I’ve put it in the freezer until I decide what to do with it. I have half a mind to dissect it, to learn as much as possible, but I don’t know if I have the heart and the stomach for it.

    Additional information:

    1. Size of enclosure?
    20 gallon, long

    2. # of inhabitants - specifically other frogs and size differences?
    3. Humidity?
    I gauge this by sight, since it’s a fairly terrestrial frog. I strongly doubt it was an issue, except maybe during that time when it got drier than I like.
    4. Temperature?
    At this time of the year, around 20C (68F)
    5. Water - type - for both misting and soaking dish?
    Declorinated tap water
    6. Materials used for substrate?
    Coconut fiber on land and medium sized aquarium rocks in the water
    7. Enclosure set up i.e. plants (live or artificial), wood, bark and other materials. - How were things prepared prior to being put into the viv?
    Fake fern that’s supposed to be ok for emphibians (it’s been there since the beginning 1.5 years ago)
    Live pothos.
    The pothos was sprayed with alcohol to get rid of mealybugs (they’re back now, so, technically, I guess my frog was not the only inhabitant...), then left aside for the alcohol to evaporate, then rinsed with dechlorinated water. It’s been in the terrarium for several months.
    Nothing but the aquarium rocks.
    8. Main food source?
    Nightcrawlers (about 1/3 of a worm every other day, or less often, depending on whether or not it looked overweight). I fed them to it directly by holding the worm piece with tweezers until it grabbed it.
    I also fed it 1 or 2 crickets per week (usually less often) by dropping them in the terrarium for it to hunt.

    Old diet: I used to feed her mainly crickets and mealworms, but I stopped that several months ago.
    9. Vitamins and calcium? (how often?)
    Calcium supplement with D3 (once a week... it’s possible that I forgot every now and then)
    10. Lighting?
    GE Bright Stick Gro and Sho (a fluorescent tube). It already seemed old when it was given to me, so I doubt it still emitted UVB rays. Since the jury is still out about these frogs needing UVB I opted for the more energy efficient option of not giving it any and supplementing its diet with D3.
    11. What is being used to maintain the temperature of the enclosure?
    Room temperature.
    12. When is the last time he/she ate?
    1 week before death.
    13. Have you found poop lately?
    14. A pic would be helpful including frog and enclosure (any including cell phone pic is fine)
    I’ll see what I can do. I have a few pictures I took not too long before its death, but the swelling doesn’t seem quite as bad as it actually was.
    15. Describe frog's symptoms and/or recent physical changes; to include it's ventral/belly area.
    See above.
    16. How old is the frog?
    Not sure. I’ve had it for 1.5 years and I don’t think it has grown much during that time (hard to tell, though). I also have never seen it shed, if that’s an indication. I’m guessing 1.5 years of captivity without hibernation is something like 2.25 – 2.5 years of life in the wild (around here).
    17. How long have you owned him/her?
    1.5 years
    18. Is the frog wild caught or captive bred?
    Wild caught, with proper authorisations. It looked perfectly healthy when caught and has never shown any signs of disease. (The weird nose comes from nose damage sustained a couple of months after capture.)
    19. Frog food- how often and if it is diverse, what other feeders are used as treats?
    See 8 for full feeding information
    20. How often the frog is handled?
    It depends, but I rarely handled it with my hands (except to nudge it out of the way). When I needed to take it out of its terrarium I used a net. The only time I took it in my hands is the time when I put it in its last honey-water bath.
    Every now and then it was taken on the road as part of nature workshops. It was never it favorite time, but it was a pretty relaxed frog overall.
    21. Is the enclosure kept in a high or low traffic area?
    22. Describe enclosure maintenance (water changes, cleaning, etc)
    Full water change twice a week, and whenever water looks dirty. (If this is an issue I’m thinking of doing partial water changes every other day [no matter how the water looks] as well as the twice a week full water changes for my next leopard frog.)
    I should also mention that the water isn’t filtered. It’s in a clear glass baking dish that covers about a third of the terrarium
    No schedule for substrate change

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Help identifying cause of death.

  4. #3
    100+ Post Member Cliygh and Mia 2's Avatar
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    Default Re: Help identifying cause of death.

    What was its substrate? Including the water area if you had one. I personally feel it could somehow be related to impaction, or kidney damage/bacterial infection. I don't know if this would help, as it applies to newts and salamanders, but here is an article about bloat:

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Help identifying cause of death.

    Don't rule out the possibility of a viral infection.

    Lucké's tumor of leopard frogs (kidney) is caused by a herpesvirus.....can remain latent and affect leopard frogs at the 2yr mark. It's supposedly common.
    "The virus has a tropism for developing renal cells and appears to be latent until animals are over two years old. Carcinomas develop in the third or fourth summer of the frog's life."

    Another common viral disease could be Ranavirus which can also cause bloating.

    Many diseases cause the same testing and necrospsy would be needed to diagnose (swab /PCR for virus).
    Diagnosis or not, fully clean and disinfect the enclosure and all materials before getting a new inhabitant.

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  7. #5
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    Default Re: Help identifying cause of death.

    hard to say. the most common cause is usually bacterial infection. frogs have a very fickle immune system and if they get "stressed" they can succumb to their normal bacterial flora. on the other hand, i had a southern leopard frog for a while that passed. I ended up dissecting it shortly after it died and found the bowel and stomach full of parasitic worms so it probably died from impaction.

  8. #6
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    Default Re: Help identifying cause of death.

    It's not a substitute for changing the water, but a strong bubbler in there can really help keep it fresher in between.
    Phyllomedusa sauvagii 3.0.1, Strawberry hermit crabs 1.1.0, 10 purple pinchers, African Grey 1.0.0, Alexandrine 1.0.0, Half Moon Conure 0.1.0 , Ivory-billed Aricari 1.0.0

  9. #7

    Default Re: Help identifying cause of death.

    Thanks. I'll keep all of this in mind.

  10. #8
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    Default Re: Help identifying cause of death.

    Leopard frogs need a basking spot, UVB source is also important since it's active during the day and is a basking species. Although I'm not sure this could have caused the death, correct heating and lighting can play an important part in the longetivity of reptiles and amphibians

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