Building a Rainforest for our Tree Frogs
One of our greatest privileges is providing safe and enriching homes for the animals within our care. When designing these homes every effort is made to provide as natural of an environment as possible. For our Magnificent Tree Frogs, this meant recreating a tropical rainforest.
Setting the Groundwork
You can’t have a rainforest without plants, but as any house plant enthusiast will tell you, keeping them indoors isn’t always easy. One of our first challenges was getting the soil just right. We achieved this by assembling layers of leaf litter, soil, sand and clay into a “substrate trifle” if you will, with a layer of river stones on the bottom for drainage. Once the soil was perfected, we were able to establish shade tolerant plants to provide valuable hiding places for the frogs.
Let There be Light
In addition to nutrients from the soil, plants (and frogs) also need light, of which our mini-rainforest has two sources. Heat lamps provide comfy basking spots for the frogs to thermoregulate while full-spectrum UV and infrared lights allow the frogs to see and give the plants what they need to survive.
Creepy Crawly Cleaner-Uppers
No rainforest would be complete without bugs. Decomposers such as worms and cockroaches play a vital role in the ecosystem by recycling nutrients and curbing the build-up of debris on the forest floor. In our mini-rainforest, we’ve recruited a carefully selected “bug-battalion” as our clean-up crew. Earthworms aerate the soil while adding nutrients, millipedes and isopodes munch away on decomposing debris, and springtails do their part by keeping fungi and moulds at bay while also happily feeding on frog faeces (talk about taking one for the team!).