And then there was one

One good thing about mammals: they don’t croak over dead when we move. Our cats and ferrets take it all in stride, and indeed, the ferrets love a new house. For ferrets, new environments are like crack and sex and high speed internet all rolled into one.

Not so the reptiles and amphibians. As much as I love my exotics, they do poorly with changes in environment. We had seven dendrobatids (poison dart frogs) when we came to Santa Rosa, and now we’re down to our last azureus. The latest casualties were my two auratus.

It’s the small ecosystem problem. Our primary frog tank is, what? Forty gallons? Sixty? Can’t remember. It’s big. Lots of microenvironments, gradations of temperature and humidity. Lots of hiding places for our easily stressed critters. They can find whatever environment suits their mood for the moment. Our azureus did well in the big tank: the current survivor is at least five years old, and might be much older. (Always hard to tell who’s who in the poison dart frog biz.)

But when we came to Santa Rosa, we had to make a few difficult decisions. First, the frog tank had to stay in the garage because we were concerned about the potential for flooding from the reservoir tank. We’re living in a rental with wood floors, so spills could be disastrous. Second, since the frog tank is in the garage, it is subject to much wider temperature swings. (The reservoir tank is supposed to help keep the overall temp at an even keel, but it has its limits.) We decided it would be better to keep the frogs inside where the temperature is less variable, but the only way to do that was to put the frogs into a much smaller tank.

So, as I said, it’s a microenvironment problem. Small tank means uniform temp and humidity and fewer hiding places. Honestly, I’m amazed we kept them alive this long.

I’m taking a vow: no more exotics until we live in a home we own, one we don’t anticipate moving out of for a good long time. And wouldn’t that be nice — the expectation of not needing to move in the near future.



  1. Dean says:

    Whee, comments available again!

    Chris is a pet-gatherer. For a while, I think we had 5 rodents (the three caffeine brothers Latte, Espresso, and Cappuccino and the two hairy water balloons) and an elderly border collie who was demented BEFORE he went senile.

    The border collie is gone, to be replaced by a cat, and the three caffeine brothers have died. So now we are down to three, and I am resolutely holding the line at No New Pets. Sometime in the next few years we’ll be down to just The Cat (the guinea pigs can’t last that much longer, they’re both so obese they must be courting rodential coronaries), and since we’re going to have him for a good long time, that’s enough.

  2. Chris says:

    Pssst … don’t tell Dean, but there will be other rodents once the resident lawn-mowers pass on to their Great Reward. Something smaller than guinea pigs, although it seems a shame to let their cage go to waste.

    A house without pets is not a home, IMHO. When I was a kid, we always had a dog, a cat, multiple rodents (anything but rats, because their tails remind my mother of snakes), and whatever other odd critters my dad brought home. We had newts, toads, tree frogs, a mud puppy, fish, crawfish, hermit crabs …