20 years ago I spent a whole month in the Ecuadorian jungle searching for what was then the rarest leaf frog, Cruziohyla craspedopus, a fringed-legged species with unusual adaptations. It was near Yasuni, deep in Amazonia. One special night my friend and I found a small group of them, males calling around a breeding site, which was inside a fallen tree.
It was so rare in those days, and my friend filmed the species for the very first time in the world. I collected a few eggs with a permit and returned to Manchester. I nurtured them knowing I would never be able to go back and find more. 7 eggs survived and developed to adulthood.
As things would have it all the adults turned out to be male – I was gutted, but kept them very well and it was so special to have them in our collection for many years. They formed the basis of new amphibian research for me, students at Manchester, and others across the globe.Having had success with the related species, the splendid leaf frog, Cruziohyla calcarifer, and being the first to breed the species in captivity, we distributed young out to various other institutions back in 2009, including providing Atlanta Botanical Gardens with the first ones ever in the USA.
As fate would have it, the year before last they were able to provide us with a small number of Fringed Leaf frog tadpoles in return. Again, we really didn’t now what sexes of the animals developed we would end up with and have had our fingers crossed it wouldn’t be a repeat of last time.
However, Today, we found out..
Adam put great effort into setting the frogs up for breeding last week in a wonderfully furnished ‘rain chamber’, mimicking natural conditions to exact detail. As with other things, we have been waiting patiently to see what would happen, but nothing did. We resided ourselves that perhaps we had no female, it was time to acknowledge that. It wasn’t going to happen on any account. Today was the day to take the frogs out and strip down the tank. But, it seems just when you accept those thoughts some remarkable things can happen.. This morning I woke with a smile, some unexpected things have happened with me, but also I got a wonderful set of messages from Adam.
First was that a frog we thought was a male had suddenly become larger, almost overnight. Then another male was in amplexus with it and this morning at 10am the pair laid a clutch of pearl white eggs. It seems the flanges of this unusual species were used throughout the egg laying to help adhere the eggs to the wire they had been laid on.
Many congratulations to Adam, who has achieved what I couldn’t many years ago, and so we can now add the breeding of this amazing species to our department’s breeding achievements. We would both like to thank Mark Mandica in Atlanda for his kindness in providing us with the new opportunity to gain great pleasure in keeping and breeding this species, and I would like to thank Adam for his dedication, patience, and support.
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