One of the first spring time jobs at the Greater Vancouver Zoo’s Conservation Corner is removing the cozy insulation from around the outside of the Oregon spotted frog tubs. Oregon spotted frogs are an endangered frog native to British Columbia. The conservation breeding program hosted by the zoo to boost the population isn’t far from their natural habitat so we don’t have to worry about the frogs getting too cold during the winter, however the insulation on the outside of the tubs is still necessary. One of the challenges with breeding animals in captivity is mimicking their natural habitat, which in this case means cold water and ice on the surface of the pond, but never on the bottom.
Wild spotted frogs hibernate in the murky shallows of wetland habitats. They hang out and wait for spring. The frogs in the breeding program do the same but we make sure they don’t encounter any ice along the sides or at the bottoms of their enclosure. To keep the ice away, we wrap the tubs with heated wire and insulation. The wire provides direct heat to the sides of the tubs and the insulation holds the heat in.
Once it begins to warm up, we remove the frogs’ “winter coats.” During this time we can start to see (and hear) breeding behaviors like males calling and males paring with females in amplexus. It means breeding season is upon us and we can start looking forward to eggs soon!
Listen for yourself to the breeding song of the Oregon spotted frogs we are starting to hear from the tanks.