By Kevin Scott
Arrow frogs are a very popular display animal in today’s vivaria. It comes then as no surprise that a very common question we get is whether or not they can be kept with other animals. Of course, the answer to this question is dependent upon many variables, and there is no simple answer. Keeping arrow frogs with other types of frogs or reptiles is an in depth discussion, but keeping arrow frogs with other arrow frogs is one that we can discuss here.
Single Species Communal Housing
To the hobbyist, after keeping arrow frogs for sometime, attempting to breed them in captivity is a logical next step. Often times in the reptile industry people will buy a breeding trio of animals as a male and two females. Sometimes, however (arrow frogs being a perfect example), two males and one female are preferred.
It is commonly suggested that arrow frogs are ideally kept in pairs. However, when breeding is a goal it is sometimes beneficial to keep a second male in with a lone female. This two-to-one ratio of male-to-female has two advantages. First, the competitive calling between the two males will often stimulate the female to be more receptive. Second, having only a single female present will avoid competition over nesting sites, resulting in a safe environment for eggs to be laid.
Multi-species Communal Housing
It is generally advised not to keep more than one species together, but sometimes people will go against this advice. If it is done with careful consideration, this can actually be done quite successfully. Experienced keepers advise keeping species that inhabit different niches together. For example, a terrestrial species – maybe Dendrobates tinctorius, D. auratus or D. leucomelas – might be kept with a species that is more arboreal – like Ranitomeya ventrimaculata.
Hybridization has been observed between D. tinctorius, D. auratus, D. leucomelas and D. truncates, as well as between other less commonly kept species. This should be avoided when at all possible, especially because many of these animals are becoming less and less frequent in the wild. Preservation of species purity is essential to this and other facets of herpetoculture.
Toxicity of arrow frogs is something to consider, even though it is often stated that captive specimens are not toxic because they get their toxins from their prey. This is not entirely true – captive arrow frogs still produce toxins, and species in the genus Phyllobates can be particularly toxic, and should not be kept with other species.
In addition, when kept in small vivaria with water sources that aren’t kept clean, arrow frogs can also run into problems with toxicity, and even “tox out”.
In the end, it is at the discretion of the keeper whether or not he allows animals to cohabitate, and it is his sole responsibility to thoroughly research the species that are kept together. If problems are encountered, he was warned that it is not recommended to keep these animals together – and this article is only a set of guidelines that can be helpful, and to point out that it is possible.