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Frogs as Pets - Contributing to Spread of Chytrid and AmphibianExtinction Crisis

Please Think Twice About Keeping Frogs as Pets

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frog image - save the frogs Photo © Save the Frogs
Frogs can make lovely pets, but frogs in the wild are facing population declines and extinction largely as a result of human activities. Unfortunately, the pet trade is likely contributing to the amphibian extinction crisis and the spread of an devastating infection by Chytrid fungus. For this reason, you should only buy frogs that you are sure are captive bred locally and ideally tested to be free of disease. It may be impossible to find frogs which meet these conditions, but otherwise, pet frogs may be contributing to the decline of wild frog populations, something I'm sure none of wish to be a part of.

What is the Amphibian Extinction Crisis?
Amphibians (e.g. frogs, salamanders) are the most widely threatened group of animals on earth, 1/3 of the world's 6,317 amphibian species are threatened with extinction.

Major Threats to Amphibians
According to Savethefrogs.com, there are six major threats facing frogs in the wild:

  • habitat destruction
  • infectious diseases
  • pollution and pesticides
  • climate change
  • invasive species
  • over-harvesting for the pet trade and for food
The pet trade is directly implicated in population declines due to the capture of wild frogs, but the pet trade may also indirectly contribute to declining populations through the spread of infectious diseases (especially chytrid fungus). Captive frogs are shipped around the world for the pet trade and may carry diseases which native frog populations have never encountered before, sometimes causing epidemics and extinctions of local populations. The pet trade is also responsible for the contributing to the problem of invasive species through the release of exotic pets by irresponsible owners.

Chytrid Fungus
Chytridiomycosis is name of the disease caused by the chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis), and is often referred to simple as "chytrid." This potentially lethal skin disease was first discovered in 1998 and has since been detected in at least 285 amphibian species in 36 countries from around the world. It is also thought to have been responsible for the extinction of at least 100 species.

An infected pet frog could introduce the disease to wild populations if it escapes or is set free, or even if water from its tank is released into the environment.

Individual animals infected with the chytrid fungus can be treated, but once it gets into wild populations it is impossible to prevent or eradicate the disease. Preventing the spread of chytrid is of the utmost importance in the fight to conserve amphibian populations in the wild.

Find out More about The Amphibian Extinction Crisis and Chytrid:

  • Save the Frogs - loaded with information and ways you can help save the frogs.
  • Frogs: the Thin Green Line - a Nature documentary, viewable online, about the pressures facing wild populations of frogs (and what the implications might be for our own well-being).

If you are considering a pet frog, I hope you will reconsider by giving serious thought to the negative impacts the trade in pet frogs is having on wild populations. Perhaps instead, build a frog-friendly pond and habitat in your yard, and let native frogs move in on their own. And please visit Save the Frogs to find out many ways you can help save wild populations of frogs.

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