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Thread: The Woods Vivarium

  1. #1
    100+ Post Member Larry Wardog's Avatar
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    Default The Woods Vivarium

    Hello, I am finally going to break my silence on what I will be doing next with my toads. I will not update this post as much as some others because I am very far away from the build but I will post when things happen.

    So I have had different posts on here talking about my 125 gallon containing my toads. Well to get to the point as to why I'm making this thread I am actually going to upgrade their enclosure. I am still not 100% on the tank but right now if it stands it would be a 240 gallon enclosure. I plan long term to have two pairs of American toads inside the setup. I may add a different species a very very long time from now, but it is planned as an all toad tank right now. Many people are probably going to read this and be shocked only 4 toads in an 8 foot long enclosure?

    I believe in less animals more space. I am using these toads for a project to also benefit the state at least my local neighborhood to replenish the toads by attempting to breed my toads and release the offspring in an artificial vernal pool I'm building.

    I will answer what I have to if someone has questions or doubts about what I'm doing but that's not the focus of this post. I will have a disclaimer I have a license from the fish and boat commission and I spoke with the chief biologist on behalf of my project with my toads. I am also studying to be a researcher and herpetologist in the future and my focus is northeastern frogs and toads.

    Now this setup will be something for a toad tank you have never seen before. I will have changing seasons with as accurate weather and climate conditions as possible. I will have rainstorms, thunderstorms, foggy days, sunny days, highs in the 70s, lows in the 60s, changing feeders, changing light cycles and many other things. I will attempt brumation in a mini fridge as the San Diego zoo did with the Red Legged Frog in CA.

    I plan to have different feeders trying to replicate some of the feeders the toads will find in the wild at the time of the season we will currently be in. I will use grubs for example in the spring and small crickets, but as the season goes on in Autumn adult crickets both Domestic and Banded. I hope to breed grasshoppers and breed any parasites out of them so generations of grasshoppers. One thing when I was younger I wanted was to have insects in the setup. Aside from Isopods and Springtails I will not attempt to keep crickets or a feeder in the setup. I know there are too many variables unfavorable with this. If some survive the toads and live in the setup I will allow it, but it will be very difficult to do.

    My toads currently have a parasitic nematode which they are going to be treated for, and until multiple tests show they are negative I am waiting to brumate. My toads must be clean or as close to dewormed as possible to brumate and to reproduce. They are indeed pets first and aiding my project after. So if something isn't right I am not forcing anything like if they can't brumate this year oh well. It's going to be done right.

    These are my favorite animals and I go on trips in the spring to road rescue and document them. I love them in the wild and my toads (3 of 4) were rescued. Even though toads are abundant and mine were rescues I want to give back to the environment I obtained them from and it's one of my life's goals to help this species in the wild to thrive and to improve captive care. People have the greatest setups with Darts and exotic frogs and even though to some these are boring dumb toads I will have so much fun building this and creating an environment my favorite animals can thrive in.

    In conclusion of this post I will say I'm very excited to plan this upcoming project and I am looking forward to introducing my toads to you in the next post. I have a lot to talk about like my goal only to use zoned plants basically native to the environment these specific toads lived in, my supplements, feeders, more details on the weather and all kinds of cool stuff.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this and I will leave you with some pictures of the toads and their 125 gallon enclosure currently.




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  3. #2
    100+ Post Member Larry Wardog's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Woods Vivarium

    We have the first toad who might be parasite free...

    So I recently revealed my plan to have 4 toads in a 240 gallon if they were all parasite free. Well when I went to the vet last Wednesday I got the test results back for Wellsboro the "Golden Toad" and he had his second negative test for all parasites. This is a big deal because he was so bad last year and withering away from many parasites. Now he currently is doing so well that he picks and chooses what he wants to eat.

    I put different feeders in daily and he actually will refuse prey items and I talked to the vet and she said he could be so full that he might not want to eat larger prey items at the moment. Well I tested this and I found out after just two days of not feeding him it was true because he was refusing crickets for a while until I stopped feeding for two days. Then all of a sudden he started hunting them just like he used to. So even though it is the time of year when toads are less active, one my toads is actually so full he is choosing what he wants to eat!

    Wellsboro could be the first toad to be hibernated in my care and even better the first confirmed clean toad. He looks the part and I'm super happy and hope he passes the next two tests. He will need to be healthy living with my female toad Ace who will challenge him because they hunt the same way. I have observed over the years my toads have different styles of hunting. Ace and Wellsboro chase and stalk prey. So as they live together some day I know it will be very exciting for me to watch those two hunting down crickets and other insects.

    Moving on from Wellsboro is his hopeful mate Navi. She was rescued in September and I have yet to find poop from her. She looks great and has settled into captivity. She's a very lazy toad though. I thought all females might be these awesome predators, but Navi has never chased any prey item. She sits between the food dish and water dish. I'm not sure how this will go with her sitting and waiting for food while two other toads are hopping around trying to eat everything. She shows great patience which is what wild toads do when waiting for prey and usually younger toads do this. If this is her hunting style the camping and sniping style then it will be cool to see how it works out with Ace and Wellsboro being true hunters.

    When I can get a stool sample from her I will know how much work we need to do to get her to hibernate with Wellsboro assuming he stays healthy. It would be a truly incredible feat to see a newcomer such as Navi with little to no worms. Hopefully we can find out soon!

    Next it's time to talk about the toad couple Ace and Pious. These two have been living in the 125 gallon and are doing very very well. There is one thing I'm nervous about with them and it's the results from a fecal exam. They may have pinworms. These are nasty little creatures and if Ace and Pious do I will have to figure something out with the vet and come up with a plan to kill them off. She suggested removing the soil and putting in new which I will do this week. The vet didn't have the results on her chart but she said either Ace and Pious have pinworms or the gray tree frogs do. If it's the tree frogs it's an easy fix because they are already in quarantine. Let's hope and pray it's them and not toads in a bioactive vivarium.

    Ace and Pious look really good. I said this before and I will say it again that this is the healthiest Ace has looked ever in her life. Not only that but Pious looks happy to be in the setup with her. Pious is more laid back and his hunting style he will wait like Navi, but he moves around a little bit more. He doesn't chase prey but he lets Ace bring it to him. They actually complement one another. Ace causes panic and Pious ambushes a cricket here and there. I am very happy with these two and I'm very excited to see them healthy so they can hibernate and we can attempt to breed them in the spring. They are the original couple so I really want them to be the first pair to mate for me.

    I just wanted to give the update that for the gray tree frogs and all the toads tested negative for the nematodes. This is the first time ever so I'm hoping as I said Wellsboro is clean for two more tests and that Ace and Pious can get on track and be next in line to be clean.

    In the next update I'll explain more about the seasons and the changing environment for the 240 gallon with authentic weather conditions.

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    100+ Post Member Larry Wardog's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Woods Vivarium

    More parasites news, changing weather and etc...

    So I got back the results and it turns out Wellsboro has pinworms which can be difficult to get rid of and these cause prolapses. I have been making sure to feed him as many prey items that he will take but also I have been trying to add in fattening him up with wax worms. Tomorrow I am going to take everything out of his tank and he has to go backwards in terms of progress so he's going to hate me but in the grand scheme of things it's for his own good. It's a shame but there was not a great deal of pinworms found so if we can act quick and take everything out, sanitize his enclosure, and give him the dewormer the vet gave me then we should be in good shape. We will have to begin looking for parasites as we start over in counting for negative fecal exams.

    I just weighed Wellsboro tonight and it turns out he is sitting at 82 grams which is much better than what he weighed in over the majority of this year. He was somewhere between 60 to 70 grams most of the year but has gone up by 12. Hopefully fattening him up and giving him the dewormer we can finally get him over 100 grams. There's not positive news about Wellsboro due to the fact that he has parasites, but there is optimism because he doesn't seem to have anything quite as bad as what he did and I don't believe he has the parasitic nematodes that he was suffering from for a while.

    I still have no confirmation about Navi. I just changed her enclosure and I upgraded her quarantine tank and now she is at a 10-gallon. I'm hoping by giving her extra space it will encourage her to run around a little bit more and maybe to show more natural behavior. It's going to be like this until I can find some poop. I would love to move her together with Wellsboro or in the 125 gallon with the other two toads but I have to get a confirmation on where she stands with parasites. So really only an upgraded tank is the most exciting news from Navi. I did weigh her and in her first weigh-in she is 70 g.

    As for Ace and Pious in the 125 gallon there is sad news because Ace tested positive for some type of a parasite and I'm not too sure how she would have gotten this only living with the male toad that she has been with for a long time. The two have lived together in captivity for four years, so it's just very odd she would pick something up now. It could have come in on a plant or some insect but I'm not entirely sure how she got the parasite.

    I'm awaiting the vet to respond back to me. The good news about this parasite is that toads can develop an immunity to it, so for Ace once we get her healthy and deworm her from the parasite she will never get it again. It's like getting the ultimate flu shot. I'm not sure if I have to take out everything in the tank or what to do but I'm awaiting the results. The really good news for Ace is that she weighs in at 112grams. A year ago she was fighting for her life and she weighed 46 grams she has more than doubled her weight in a year's time. I'm very hopeful that the other toads can do the same thing as long as they're not borderline obese.

    As for the news regarding the toads as a whole it appears they are all still battling some type of parasite. The goal is to try and finish the parasite off before they can double up or get worse and spread all throughout the toads body.

    Moving forward from talking about what's happening with the toads currently, I said I was going to talk about the changing weather inside the 240 gallon pending all of the toads are able to get healthy. This is one of the most exciting parts about creating this enclosure is also trying to replicate the weather. In the springtime it is going to be cooler and due to the fact that I have a misting system and a fogger, there will be foggy days and foggy nights, as I will allow the fog to roll through the enclosure for a decent period of time. The hope is that the animals actually think it is getting foggy.

    I am also going to have rain storms at planned intervals more frequently in the spring. I will probably have somewhere between 5 to 15 minute rain storms possibly every other night with the misting system. The unique part of having a fogger and a misting system is whenever they are both on, the water vapor goes to the top of the enclosure and the mist coming out of the misting system looks like rain so it actually looks like rain is coming down from the clouds.

    I am going to have authentic highs and low temperatures to the best that I can. In the spring I'm probably going to have the high temperature in the upper 60s and the low temperature in the lower 60s. I can only drop the temperature in to the lower 60s because I will be using an air conditioner to cool the room off. The humidity will also rise and drop throughout the day. The fogger will actually make sure daily the humidity fluctuates as the fogger turns on at a different time either during the day or late at night depending on the season. The water area will be much higher to simulate the rainy season and temporary puddles of water in the wild where these toads would interact with them.

    I am just going to share in this update my plan for the spring with the weather conditions for this update. From foggy days and nights, to rain storms, to bright and sunny days, the 240 gallon is going to try and replicate weather conditions similar to the conditions happening outside. there will be fluctuating temperatures and humidity that will stimulate natural behavior and also cause more activity out of the animals.

    One of the last things for in the spring that is going to change during the different seasons will actually be the feeder insects. I plan on trying to feed a majority of grubs because in my area when the American toad comes out crickets and grasshoppers are very small and I do not believe they would make a large portion of the diet in the spring. The feeders list for the spring will go as follows:
    Repti Worms (Main Feeder)
    Waxworms Rotated Side Meal
    Mealworms Occasional
    Butterworms Rotated Side Meal
    Isopods Inevitable

    Reptiworms can provide good nutrition for these toads and some people actually use them as a staple feeder. It is important to note that the feeder insects are going to change every so often this will not be the only feeders these animals get. The reason why I want to cycle feeder insects is also with the hope to replicate more authentic conditions not just with weather. There are a limited windows where insects are breeding and are more plentiful than others and that is the idea behind provide a specific group of feeders for a specific season.

    I do not recommend only using reptiworms as a staple I believe variety is key but I do believe they are sustainable enough as a feeder insect for the amount of time that I will be offering these little grubs and larvae to the toads.

    I am just going to talk about what I am doing in the spring season for this 240 gallon. I will elaborate on the Summer and Autumn season in the future. I also have yet to describe the lighting system, the soil, the plants, the cleanup crew, and anything else that maybe I have not covered yet. The idea behind such an in depth enclosure is to benefit the animals and to create artificial seasons to stimulate the animals.

    I hope to have better news in the next update for the toads sake.

    Pictured
    1) Navi
    2) Ace
    3) Ace and Pious (I didn't have anything to report on for Pius because I did not find him and I did not weigh him but whatever Ace has he probably has too)

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  5. #4
    100+ Post Member Larry Wardog's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Woods Vivarium

    TOADally awesome update...

    I have some good news for the toads that are going to live inside a 240 gallon enclosure next year. They are all holding steady in weight! Just like last time I only weighed Ace, Navi, and Wellsboro, but not Pious because he is not active. Ace is 110 grams so she lost two, but Wellsboro went from 82 to 87 grams. He is catching up to you Ace!

    As I said before these two are doing well and are the largest two toads I have. I think they both are doing better and soon we will have another fecal exam. Wellsboro is being picky again and isn't taking crickets so I am going to get other feeders for him. I only have mealworms and crickets and I'm not feeding him only mealworms. Ace has no type because she eats whatever moves.

    Navi made the most improvement going from 59 to 71 grams. She's eating very well and you would think she would want to go dormant but she's very alert and eating. She's just a very lazy toad also. I can't wait to see these toads together.

    I wanted to touch on something not necessary but I am doing this for the ethics and hopefully to silence more critics of the attempt to breed and release the offspring. I am going to purchase a very high grade air purifier that will keep the air clean of bacteria, smoke, dust, and everything else. I already have a humidifier on to make sure the humidity stays stable and now I will be focused on the air quality. I feel if the room is actually very kept up with then the animals will be very happy also. It's totally unnecessary but if I were not doing this project I probably wouldn't have a WiFi compatible humidifier and security camera to check in on the tank [emoji23]

    I also am going to purchase a 5 filter reverse osmosis water system to provide pure water for all of my animals, but especially the toads and gray tree frogs since they have a very important task. The filter will remove all chlorine, minerals, metals, led, and anything else that can be harmful. The 5 stage filtration system will make for some of the purest water one can use even for human use. I really want to have the top of the line for all of my animals and these two devices I feel are very necessary for helping in some of the smaller ways with my animals lives.

    Not only do I wish for clean water and air for the animals, but I also am locked in on the soil for The Woods enclosure. I wanted to use something that absorbs moisture well. I will use the ABG Mix once again but it will have more of a role and I will use it as more of a 60-40 role opposed to 80-20 as to what I have now. I will combine the ABG Mix with Exo Terra Plantation Soil, Exo Terra Forest Moss, Exo Terra Riverbed Sand, Charcoal, and maybe more. Having this soil should make for loamy soil that amphibians love to live in. The ABG/Plantation Soil will be the base soil that I will mix together. I wanted to have a more natural looking forest or "woods" looking floor and I just like this combination.

    Another thing I want to elaborate on is the supplements and gutloads the toads and gray tree frogs will be on. This might be one of the most important sections that I include in my timely updates of my animals because if they do not get the right supplements and gutload then it actually can kill them. I will lay out all of the supplements and then explain them.

    Supplements:
    Mazuri Better Bug Gutload
    Reptocal by Tetrafauna
    Repashy Crested Gecko Diet
    Repashy Superpig
    Tetra Pond Color Sticks
    Yummy Chummies Grain Free Wild Alaska Salmon Dog Treat
    Flukers Cricket Quencher
    Oxbow Carnivore Care
    Repashy Vitamin A

    The only got load I use is the Mazuri Better Bug Gutload because this was found in a research study as the most effective feeder to offer crickets and other insects before native eastern toads and tree frogs are them. This gutload has helped my toads and all of my pets. Due to the fact it was proven for native toads and it works for mine I will use it.

    The Reptocal by Tetrafauna was also used in the study and found to be very successful with the Mazuri Better Bug Gutload. The Reptocal is put in the gutload to include more vitamin D3 and calcium which is what it does. The calcium is not in high levels but just enough with the gutload to create an even better feed.

    My third ingredient is the Crested Gecko Diet by Repashy. This smells nice and the feeders love the little powder right out of the bottle. I do not add water I just use the powder and put a decent amount of this in with the Reptocal on the Mazuri Better Bug Gutload. I don't really think there is much of an added benefit using this except it works for attracting the feeders.

    Repashy Superpig is just something to enhance color and it's really not necessary. I really have not noticed a change in the color for any of my animals but I do not have colorful animals only green, gray, and brown so to speak but it also adds into the smell for the feeders. This is not necessary for anyone to use for toads or gray tree frogs.

    Tetra Pond Color Sticks or something very similar to the Superpig but I did learn there are extra ingredients in this fish food that are beneficial to include. This fish food has many different ingredients off the top of my head I do not recall which ingredients are important but I can get back to you if you are that interested about this one. It seems to be relished by the feeders I have seen crickets, roaches, mealworms, isopods and others eat this.

    Next is the Yummy Chummies Grain Free Wild Alaska Salmon Dog Treat and this was also included in the same study as the Reptocal and Mazuri. There are three things this treat does. This treat helps with the heart and has Omega 3 in it. Also it has glucosamine which is beneficial for joints. I'm not sure if it helps with aging toads but it might. The dog treat is actually made of salmon which is very good for protein as well. I have not used this product yet but it is something I am working on getting. It is very pricey.

    Flukers Cricket Quencher is just my preferred offering of a water substance. This is more made like Jell-O but it offers calcium which is like a combination giving the crickets or any type of feeder insect water, but also calcium. So my crickets and mealworms especially get more calcium in their diets.

    Oxbow Carnivore Care was recommended to me as an emergency diet in case one of my animals refuses to eat but it is starving. I have not had to use this yet and hopefully I won't but if I need to I at least have it ready to go. You can look up the reviews and read what it is about, but basically if you have an animal that refuses to eat you would mix this stuff up and force feed the animal. It has really good reviews and ratings. My vet also recommended this so it already has the ok for me.

    Repashy Calcium A is something I am not using yet very similar to the dog treat, but I really believe after my Superpig supplement runs out that I will get this in its place. I don't really offer any vitamin A except for what is found in the gut load. The Reptocal doesn't offer it, I don't believe the fish food does and the superpig doesn't. The crested gecko diet might, but I just feel tagteaming the Reptocal with the Repashy Calcium A could really make a tremendous difference with my supplements. This along with the dog treat are on the list for 2020.

    So now that you have read about the soil which I will have to get more in-depth in for the next update on, and you also have read about the supplements and a little description as to what I am using them for. I am really looking forward to building the 240 gallon enclosure and I am looking forward to sharing the updates as they come along. This is more about the busy work for me how I feed my animals and the soil, so it's not necessarily as interesting as talking about artificial weather or the different kinds of feeder insects I want to include in the diets of the animals. I have a lot of really exciting surprises and hopefully even more good news to come your way soon. If you have any comments about the soil, the devices, or the supplements feel free to comment below or message me.

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  6. #5
    100+ Post Member Larry Wardog's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Woods Vivarium

    Just wanted to post some of the most beautiful pictures captured of the toads by a good friend. Ace, Wellsboro and Navi are all showcased in these three photos

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  7. #6
    100+ Post Member Larry Wardog's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Woods Vivarium

    Some big updates other then parasites and weight...

    Finals week ended and I got back from a long road trip out to Michigan to tour Josh's Frogs facility. Josh's Frogs will return to sponsor Frog Week and will also sponsor this enclosure The 240 Gallon Woods or "The Woods" for short. It was an amazing experience meeting Josh and Zach and all of the crew. It was a memorable experience and we had a lot of laughs and they showed me where all of my feeder insects come from. Nothing like actually seeing where the crickets, roaches, isopods and others are kept.

    They donated the Autumn Brilliance Ferns that will be added to the enclosure so I actually have them growing in a small critter keeper. I will have pictures and videos from the tour to follow on other media, but I just wanted to thank them for the awesome experience and the sponsorship of Frog Week 2020 and The Woods.

    I actually just agreed to a deal with a friend to become the personal photographer for the PA Woods and Forests Brand. I'm really excited to show you pictures from his work on here as we build The Woods. He's someone I believe is good enough to work for national geographic but he is not out of college yet so I'll have him for a while lol checkout the pictures above of the three toads to see his work!

    I found Pious! He looks chubby and I weighed him. He's like 63g which I'm not sure what he was earlier but I don't think he lost any weight. He slows down for the winter so he's less active. He wasn't happy with me picking him up but he forgave me. He's such a cute little toad because he's so particular. He will wipe his face off and run away from the sprayers when they most him. He also gave up creeping on Ace and trying to mate. So he will be monitored as time goes by. It's all good for him though.

    Navi I believe is overweight so I'm trying to cut her back. Wellsboro and Ace I'm trying to put more weight on them so I'm feeding reptiworms and waxworms both for their meal. The reptiworms are good as a main feeder and the waxworms are a fatty added part to the meal. Think steak and fries. The waxworms are the french fries.

    I am also looking to work on a native species tree frog and toad feeder pack and hopefully to submit it to Josh's Frogs. I am very excited for this opportunity and I will be running everything by my vet to make sure that she agrees with the kit for authenticity. Really excited and looking forward to this!

    Lastly I don't know if I said this but I am hoping in the spring to collect and breed grasshoppers for my toads. I'm not sure what species it depends on what we can catch the most of. I really like them and I find them fascinating. They aren't just going to be feeders I will take them out when I give presentations as well because they are a part of the PA ecosystem just as the toads are. I know they really aren't different from crickets if at all in nutrition but I just want to have them. More of a nostalgia thing for me. I'll still have Banded Crickets because I like them. They are far less aggressive then the domestic pet store crickets. So to add for nostalgia not only will there be native toads from PA but native grasshoppers as well. I have plans for possibly a few more natives to make an appearance with this build. No spoilers just yet. As for the Autumn Brilliance Ferns and English Ivy which aren't "native" that's true but the state has them as a naturalized species which means they are so abundant and so many people have them they are now an integrated part of the ecosystem. And my 3 toads (Ace, Pious, and Navi) all lived where these two plants were sold so there is a good chance they could have even hid in these plants in the wild!

    Many big things to come with The Woods and lots of beautiful pictures featuring these toads, plants, and now you know grasshoppers.

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    100+ Post Member Larry Wardog's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Woods Vivarium

    Just wanted to give an update on the toads...

    Some bad news to report sadly. Ace tested positive for many parasites again and Pious her hopeful mate who also has lived with her likely has them too. They are going to have to forgo hibernation this year. Now my other pair Wellsboro and Navi are not even in the same enclosure together. Navi is soon to see the vet because she hasn't pooped since September before I found her. I have to get Navi tested, and then the goal is to test poop and see where Navi and Wellsboro are at before they move into quarantine together.

    The vet had recommended and I agree 100% to at the maximum, double up in quarantine. Instead of having all four toads live together they will not meet one another until hopefully they are 100% clean, and one by one enter into the hibernation enclosure. So they won't actually meet until the next spring. Keeping two pairs separate can decrease the amount of stress the toads have to deal with. The more toads there are the more competition there is.

    Ace, Pious, and Wellsboro lived together in 2018 before they were found to have parasites. So they know each other and Ace and Wellsboro have some type of aggression towards one another. They appear to still view each other as adversaries. So keeping the two "rival" toads in separate enclosures is to their benefit. The four toads will live together in an 8 foot long enclosure hopefully in 2021. While they may still have their problems with one another the hope is having such a large enclosure the toads will be able to spread out and especially Ace and Wellsboro will have less interaction. The 240 gallon is much more spacious then the 125 gallon. For now just a 20 gallon and 30 gallon long will be their home.

    I believe how this started is Ace my female toad just had a serious load of parasites for years, and it spread to the others. Until now we have not killed the cycles of the different parasites as well as we thought. I believe I have found a new strategy to eliminate these parasites.

    Before anybody says that these parasites are natural and they will never be free of these parasites; I just wanted to say my gray tree frogs who are all native caught and all tested positive for these parasites in 2019, and have been parasite free currently for many many months. They passed four spaced out fecal exams testing negative with zero parasites. So if my gray tree frogs were able to respond to my quarantine method now I am going to attempt doing this with my toads.

    I will update everyone as this whole situation moves forward, but for now my toads will be in quarantine for a long time.

    First picture is Ace (in food bowl) and Pious eating

    Second picture is Wellsboro on the left and Navi on the right.

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    By Rukufox in forum Vivarium, Terrarium & Enclosure Discussion
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    Last Post: September 19th, 2011, 07:20 AM

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