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Thread: Rescued a sick FBT, won't eat. Any help would be great!

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    Default Rescued a sick FBT, won't eat. Any help would be great!

    Hey all, thanks for reading.

    I'm in a pretty awkward situation here, but before that, a little bit about me: I'm an experienced keeper of herps, snakes, fish, and generally anything that's kept in tanks or cages. I've been making aquariums and vivariums for a few years and I have about 7-8 tanks littered around my house with anything from leopard geckos all the way to an albino BP... I have a reputation in my town of taking in rescues and helping them get better.

    That's why, when I rescued this sweet, skinny little frog, I was a little frustrated. I have read so many gosh darn care sheets and posts about caring for and preparing FBT diets, but for the life of me I cannot get this little guy to eat. I'll post some pictures once my internet decides to not be painfully slow.

    Story time:


    I rescued him from an old friend from high school who at first said that he didn't have enough time to care for his two FBTs and that they had stopped eating. A few weeks went by before we were able to meet up (5 hour drives suck) at which point he told me that the other frog had died and the survivor wasn't eating anything. This led me to believe that the two possibilities were A.) Horrible tank conditions and improper housing led to depression and stress in the animal, or B.) A parasite or other kind of illness had befallen this adorable little monster.

    Tank set up:

    Right now I have him set up in a spare 10 gallon that is approx. 3/4 land and 1/4 water with the deepest water level being around 1 1/2 inches - 2 inches with large rocks (bought from a pet store and rinsed then dried before being put in) to give the frog something to sit on so that he won't drown while giving him plenty of water to swim.

    I live in a cold area of the country with central heat, but the temperature in my house drops anywhere from 55-60 degrees at night and around 65 - 70 during the day. I do have a small aquarium heater that I could use, but I got that as part of a previous rescue a few years ago and I don't know whether I'd put it and it would boil the water or something, so I elected to not use it.

    The substrate is using small gravel as a base (cheaper) then using small to medium sized rocks on top (he can't actually touch any of the gravel so risk of impaction or ingestion is minimal at best, if not impossible)

    I got a simple waterfall-style filter circulating the water.

    Food:

    Right now, I've got a small bowl of mealworms that are small enough for him to grab. They've been gutloaded with nutritional supplements. I chose mealworms as they are listed on many caresheets and I know that they have a large fat content. He really needs to fatten up because his body is like a stick, and in his condition he can't even eat mealworms hardly.

    Behavior:

    He's a pretty chill animal. Usually he spends him time in the water, usually right under the outflow from the filter letting the water run over him. I've seen him jump into the food bowl and lunge at a few worms. He's managed to grab onto one a few times but he never has the strength to get them down. From this, I do know that he at least wants to eat, but can't.

    At this point, I am completely out of ideas and I would appreciate some help. I'll get some photos in a little bit.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Rescued a sick FBT, won't eat. Any help would be great!

    I don't know why mealworms seem to always be included in lists of acceptable food for FBT's. The ones you get at a pet store are never active enough to attract an FBT's attention. Maybe mealworms from the "wild" are more active. FBT's go after things that move. Crickets, small and recently fed/gutloaded are the primary food for my FBT's. Sometimes small earthworms like a red wiggler that flop around alot when you put them in the tank. I thinks others use waxworms, but again if they are not moving your FBT will likely ignore it.

    Nor do they like to take food that you dangle in front of them..... at least mine won't. Do you know what the other guy was trying to feed them? If mealworms, then definitely try something else.

    Do you know any details of the previous owners viv? If it had small gravel as you say you have, then there is the possibility of impaction. FBT's can't stick their tongue out, so they wind up having to open wide and lunge at their prey. Misses, of which mine have plenty, can result in a mouth full of substrate. Small gravel like you'd use in a fish aquarium might get swallowed but won't pass through and could plug them up. I don't know what the symptoms of impaction are but maybe that's something to look at.

    It might just be that stress is keep it from eating. FBT's don't care much for being handled. Mine only get fed every two or three days and I've read that they are tolerant of missing meals occasionally for as much as a week to ten days with no ill effect.

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    Default Re: Rescued a sick FBT, won't eat. Any help would be great!

    The problem is with reading so many care sheets is that care sheets are not always a good source of information, which leads to conflicting info. What you want is a book by a reputable herpoculturist and breeder. Popular amphibians by Philippe de Vosjli is a book I would recommend.

    Fire bellied toads are often wild caught, which is terrible as they're considered to be the easiest frogs to breed. So the frog your friend had died before could have been from parasites or stress. Your one may be fine, they will sometimes take a few weeks until they adjust and start feeding but I've never had this problem with fire bellied toads but have with other amphibians and reptiles.

    I would avoid using gravel as the only substrate, it's abrasive but you can slope the gravel so half is land and half is water, then top the land with sphagnum moss but not green moss. Your temperature range is too cold, keep them warmer, between 72-78f during the day. If temps are too cold they may slow down their metabolism and go off food. A 5%uvb over the land area will provide the needed UV and some heat but if more heat is needed then you can use a heat lamp as well the UVB but I would avoid an aquarium heater, especially in such a small set up as the frog may come in contact with it and burn it's skin. Don't feed mealworms frequently, they're not healthy and can cause digestive problems. The toad will fatten up on crickets when it begins to feed, as they are gannets! Remember to lightly dust them on a calcium with d3 and multivitamin supplement such as Repashy calcium plus.

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    Default Re: Rescued a sick FBT, won't eat. Any help would be great!

    Update on the FBT:

    I managed to get him to eat a cricket by dangling it in front of him. I tried a few more times to get one in but he didn't seem to be any more interested in food, so I'm assuming he's just adjusting to eating food again.

    Jason, privet:

    Substrate: I only use the gravel as a base. He has no direct contact with it. I covered the entire land area with small rocks above the gravel (more like a natural creek bed) (they are definitely much too big to be ingested.



    Here should be a picture of his enclosure.

    and here is a picture of how skinny he is:



    I moved his tank into my room where I have an additional space heater and the room stays about 70-72 degrees throughout the day, that's the best I can do for him short notice.

    Thank you both for your comments, but would you recommend a way to feed him something other than mealworms and crickets? mealworms are bad, then. But the crickets also die within minutes because they are f-ing retarded and drown themselves.

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    Default Re: Rescued a sick FBT, won't eat. Any help would be great!

    Many times the crickets that jump in the water are just playing possum. Some will stay still for over a minute before they finally try to swim back to safety. Of course not all of them make it. I use a long handled spoon to get the drowned ones out after the feeding time is over. Sometimes the FBT's will grab the cricket as it attempts to swim out.

    Crickets and the occasional earthworm are really all I give mine. But there are other threads here where others have discussed what they give their FBT's.

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    Default Re: Rescued a sick FBT, won't eat. Any help would be great!

    Cute little FBT! Hope you will keep offering him tiny worms and crickets until he gains weight.

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    Default Re: Rescued a sick FBT, won't eat. Any help would be great!

    Your set up looks great! Although the rocks are too big to be ingested I'll still recommend a sheet of sphagnum moss over the top, so it's more softer on the toads skin and the toad can burrow into it for safety. Btw, I forgot to say, when keeping fire bellied toads, always at least have a pair or more. They're communal animals and prefer to be kept in small groups, they'll cuddle together and the completion for food gets them to eat better. Some crickets will go in the water and drown but the toads may still go in and snatch them, it's just the annoying thing about feeding these guys. Another food that is good to feed is waxworms but these shouldn't be fed too often as they are very fatty.

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    Default Re: Rescued a sick FBT, won't eat. Any help would be great!

    Jason, I agree with just about everything you said above, BUT... the OP need to also be aware they are also hierarchical and one will posture to show his dominance. The displays of dominance have disturbed many an FBT owner as evidenced by the numerous posts on the topic. I'd lean toward waiting till the OP is satisfied this FBT is healthy and as normal as conditions allow before introducing other FBT's.

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    Default Re: Rescued a sick FBT, won't eat. Any help would be great!

    Jason, where would I go to get this moss? I don't think they have anything like that at pet smart.

    Also, privet is right. I know that if you keep two leopard geckos together and one is much bigger, it attack the other and bully it. I figured the same would happen anyway.

    Once he's fatter and healthier I'll be getting another.

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    Default Re: Rescued a sick FBT, won't eat. Any help would be great!

    I've never noticed any fighting or dominance, infact mine just stay together most of time. But I can't see the problem with a little fighting for food or a mate every so often, providing the tank is big enough and not over stocked, so the animals can get away from each other. Ive read that in the wild so many frogs can be found close to each other. For this reason long term I'd house these frogs in a larger tank than the small, often recommended, 10 gallons. It is best though that the animal proves healthy first before introducing more but they will also need quarantined for at least 30 days before introduced. I'd recommend at least two or more if you do get more and in the long run go for a bigger tank.

    They usually sell it at pet shops in bricks or bags. Zoo meds sphagnum moss is what I use and can easily be ordered online if needed. Just be sure never to use green moss, it's really loose and had small strands which could cause impaction if ingested

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    Default Re: Rescued a sick FBT, won't eat. Any help would be great!

    Hey everyone! Quick update on this little guy:


    He is a voracious eater! I went to petsmart yesterday and got some feeding tongs to help him eat, and I accidently dropped it in the cage and as soon as it started moving on its own, he pounced and chowed it down immediately.


    I also bought a brick of sphagnum moss and laid it down in his substrate. He loves it and now I can feel comfortable dropping multiple crickets in and walking away, there is now no possibility of him ingesting the gravel and I think he'll be alright with regular feeding and love.


    Here's a few updated pics:














    The only problem is that he seems to be REALLY bad at catching anything as if he can barely see it. Is this normal?

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    Default Re: Rescued a sick FBT, won't eat. Any help would be great!

    Hey! I don't think that's sphagnum, I think it's that green moss. Sphagnum comes in thick strands and can be white/cream colour. Sphagnum is safer because of their thicker and longer strands are hard for the frog to swallow and it holds more moisture and so pats down better.

    My fire bellies aren't the best at catching stuff because dont use their tongue to catch prey. Are you providing a light that gives out UVA? It should also give it low levels of UVB. A 5% tube or compact would be needed for that size of tank.

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    Default Re: Rescued a sick FBT, won't eat. Any help would be great!

    That's the only thing they have I'm afraid.

    I'm quite deep in this monetarily already. It's not clear yet whether he'll live as it could still be a parasite. As time goes on I may consider getting one.

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    Default Re: Rescued a sick FBT, won't eat. Any help would be great!

    Looks like the sphagnum moss I'm using. Just doesn't look packed down. Not sure if it matters. Some think that they'll get impaction from ingesting the moss too.

    As for lighting, you don't have to get one of those expensive UV lights. GE publishes the spectral graph produced by the different phosphor coatings in their fluorescent bulbs. Some don't have any UV and others do. The graphs for the ones that do, look very much like the spectral graphs the high dollar UV bulb produce.

    You can get bulbs for about $8.00 US. General Electric (GE) puts the spectrum codes on most all their flourescent bulbs usually after the product code. These are the codes that I found that put out UV:

    sp41, spx41, sp35, spx35, sp30, spx30.

    GE's aren't always the easiest to find as Phillips seems to dominate in my area, but I did get mine at Home Depot.


    But don't feel pushed to spend money. They can tolerate less than ideal conditions. Take a trip to any franchised pet store and see how bad they provide for them.

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    Default Re: Rescued a sick FBT, won't eat. Any help would be great!

    The one thing I find the most from the green sphagnum to the white is that the white New Zealand sphagnum moss is almost scentless compared to the smell of the green. When I had my fire belly toads I bought the green the first time I went moss shopping, couldn't stand the smell so I took it out. I went back and got the white and what a difference.

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    Default Re: Rescued a sick FBT, won't eat. Any help would be great!

    Actually I was wrong. When I was over by the FBT's viv, I looked at the package with the unused brick of moss . What I have is from Exo-Terra and they call it Forest Moss. Claims to be "totally" safe for all sorts, including frogs. It's worked well for me ever since my first FBT six or so years ago. It does strong smell when you get your nose in it, but it's a individual thing as to whether it's unpleasant of not. I do have to replace it about two times a year as it starts to rot eventually.

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    Default Re: Rescued a sick FBT, won't eat. Any help would be great!

    privet,

    Yeah that's the exact kind of moss I had to buy. He spends much more time on the land now than he did before so I assume he likes it too. It doesn't smell bad to me. Infact that was the effect I was going for because I grew up in Kentucky and Tennessee and it's almost like a little patch of home in the city.

    Thank you all very much for your help! I'm glad I've been able to get it right.

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    Default Re: Rescued a sick FBT, won't eat. Any help would be great!

    Privet,

    Fire belly toads are diurnal toads that are well known to bask. They do best under UVB lighting and it's not like a UVB bulb costs a fortune. Also, I'm not sure but regular shop lights might produce the wrong rays and be dangerous, it's better playing it safe and getting a bulb you know what it emits and how much UVB. http://www.exo-terra.com/en/explore/uv_rating_index.php

    Exo Terra claims that moss is safe but I've had a horned frog get impacted on it and I had to bath it and it crapped out the fibres within a few hours. I fed the frog with tongs but because the moss is so lose and has small strands it's easily picked up. Sphagnum or cushion moss is best

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    Default Re: Rescued a sick FBT, won't eat. Any help would be great!

    Well remember the OP said he's spent about as much as he wants to budget on this fbt's care for the present. So $8.00 as opposed to $50.00 might be managable.

    I'm just talking about a 15 watt T8 bulb that fits most standard Aquarium light kits for ten gallon tanks. It's not like I don't know what "rays" it's putting out. As I said, I found where GE publishes on their website the spectrum analysis for the different phospor coatings they put in their flourescent lights. And comparing them to what I can find out about the specialty bulbs that are sold specifically to give UV to your herps and such, I find the price more to my liking.

    Just because FBT's or any other frog likes to bask doesn't mean they need a special basking light outside of what illuminates the rest of the viv. They just need a special place to do it such as a taller rock that gets them closer to the light source.

    And from the looks of the OP's tank it's not more than a 10 gallon tank which also is the size of mine. Additional light sources are going to add to the heat in the viv, which in a 10 gallon adds up quickly. FBT's don't need additional heating. Mine do fine between 68F and 74F. And colder won't hurt them either as one of the ways to get them to breed is to stick the female in a container and leave her in the refrigerator for a few days.

    Now if you are talking additional basking lights in a larger viv, I'm all for it. Just so long as the overall temp in the viv is able to stay low. They are not tropical pets.

    As for impaction...... well I'm sure every one that keeps herps for long enough will have one get impacted. Sure we can try to minimize the chance, but still it's going to happen.

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    Default Re: Rescued a sick FBT, won't eat. Any help would be great!

    Finally someone reads what I said.

    Thank you, Jason for your input. All in all I've spent about $200 getting all I need to give him a good home, which puts a dent in my tuition that I didn't want, but it's not about the money, it's about the life. Having said that, I can't justify getting a light at this point for a $5 frog. I know it sounds ****ty to say, but that's the reality of being broke.

    I am looking to get a 60 gallon with a cabinet so I can try a fully planted terrarium style thing. If I happen to get that I will also get what I need to make sure he's as ideal as possible, but I also have 7 other herps that need my money. Thanks for the suggestion, I'll keep it in mind.

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