The Ceratophrys Family of Frogs Gallery

*albino c. cranwelli male and female

 

 

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Saturday, May 27, 2017 5:11 PM

Ceratophrys Information

Basic Taxonomy:

Ceratophrys, considered as a common name the horned frog belonging to genus Leptodactylidae. Ranging in Mexico, Central and South America east of the Andes mountains. Also noted to appear in rare forms in the caribbean coastal regions of northern South America. Due to variances in taxonomic opinion 7-14 species, whereas the confusion lies between Ceratophrys and proceratophrys (smooth horned frogs of Brasil).

Bodily Characteristics:

Generally large and very plumb at times seemingly obese, skin very textured and bumpy varied coloration ranging from browns to bright reds splashed with greens depending on species, hybrid and or man made color morphs. Albino species extremely rare in the wild usually eaten vigorously by predators due to lack of camouflage, but common in the herptile trade. Size is generally determined by species and range as a rule the c. cranwelli, c. cornuta, and c. ornata seem to be the largest with specimens reaching 20 cm or more. Weight also tends to vary by the amount of humidity in the environment, seasonal change and feeding schedule. Frogs over 10 ounces are not uncommon however.

Personality:

My favorite part! Ceratophrys depending on the status under which they are kept can vary in temperament. Individuals kept as breeders tend to lead solitary lives with very little human interaction therefore behave more like wild Ceratophrys, read this to mean highly aggressive literally lunging at any movement in the terrarium at all and biting very hard. I have experienced the bite of several adult Ceratophrys in my breeding colony and it is an event not to question. The jaws of this frog are lined with very small unorganized teeth, the closest similarity I can find is like that serrated thing on an aluminum foil box. Upon biting they tend to hold like a steel trap and due to the angle of the jaw it is not wise to pull away as is the typical reaction, that will only make the bite worse and tear the flesh more. The frog usually realizes in a few seconds that you are not viable prey, releases and leaves you with a cool bragging scar. If the frog persists as the Pixie frogs (pyxicephalus adspersus) tend to, a trick that sometimes works is to calmly submerge the frog in lukewarm water and the shock of being immersed usually causes them to let go. Bites in captivity are certainly uncommon as most frogs of this species actually exhibit obvious signs when they feel threatened. I have observed them puffing up almost filling with air, and growling. In extreme cases preceding a bite I received one frog actually let out a high pitched yelp much like a small mammal frightened. On the other hand Ceratophrys raised as pets or display animals that receive a lot of interaction, tend to behave much like a placid toad, usually lunging only at proper prey items and never biting hands. However even the tamest ones have their moments of misjudgment especially when sound feeding practices are not followed.

Feeding habits:

A massive frog with small legs and a large skeletal frame not suited for fast ambulation makes predation difficult . Case and point the Ceratophrys are certainly not cheetahs and therefore have to adapt strategies in order to feed themselves regularly. Having a high metabolism it is necessary to feed with a great deal of frequency. The tropical environment they inhabit is certainly filled with available prey. Ceratophrys in the wild hide themselves by backwards digging with their enlarged shovelike hind feet, upon burrowing they are quick to snatch up unsuspecting prey as it goes by. Mostly opportunistic feeders, they sometimes do take a proactive stance in the food chain. I have actually observed Ceratophrys when allowed outdoors in a large area to cohabitant as they would in the wild, stalk and pursue their prey when they have gotten hungry enough. A giant Ceratophrys chasing a frantic mouse is certainly a sight to behold and a rare one.

Diet:

In the wild as we base most of our observations of this amphibian, Ceratophrys literally eat anything that moves this includes insects, reptiles, and yes other Ceratophrys. In fact one of the most challenging aspects for me at least, in breeding these giants is cannibalism amongst the newly metamorphised frogs. It would not be uncommon for me to come home and find half of my clutch with a fellow brother or sister in its mouth attempting to swallow them whole. There is a definite progression in feeding as they grow very rapidly. Newly metamorphisized frogs feed on small water insects and grass insects. Upon reaching a few centimeters in length they begin feeding on sequentially larger prey, until they reach adult size when all rules go out the window. Adult Ceratophrys frogs will feed on prey up to their own mass or larger and in some cases much larger. I have always "challenged" my frogs to see what they will actually accept and most healthy adults have no qualms about eating full grown mice and small rats. Even if they bite of more than they can chew I have observed them cramming and pushing for hours to invert the prey into their giant mouths, only to give up after 24 hours or more. This sort of unusual feeding is facilitated by a very strong jaw and large opening of the mouth. In some cases the measurement of the horizontal width of the mouth exceeds half of the overall body length. I assume this is the reason one of the common names of the Ceratophrys is the pac man frog. In captivity it is important to develop a feeding practice that allows for proper nutrition and ease of maintenance. Commercially produced rodents are the obvious choice for ease of availability and sterility, they also provide calcium in the digested bone matter. It is also advisable to supplement the diet with a high quality herptile multivitamin occasionally keeping in mind the proper calcium to phosphorus ratio of 1.5:1 so the maximum absorption may be obtained. I also implement a technique known as gut loading especially for juveniles. Basically the prey items to be fed are quarantined for several days and fed a rich diet high in vitamins and minerals, therefore when the frog digests the gut contents of the prey he is also gaining that nutritional value as well. Also a little variety never hurts sometimes I will feed a variety of different prey including other reptiles and fully cooked chicken.

 

Breeding:

A quick overview of basic breeding behavior:

(a gallery of this topic is in the works right now)

In the tropical regions where Ceratophrys range there are distinct climactic changes that occur. There are certain times of the year spring and early summer which are considered a rainy season and the winter before is generally regarded as a dry season. These changes in the environment are the key to the ceratophrys breeding patterns they tend to go into a brief stint of dormancy preceding the rainy season. Upon the rains emerging the frogs awaken and begin to feed and behave normally again the males during the storms will seek pools or shallow ponds of water that are not too deep. Then the calling begins late into the night the Ceratophrys have varying calls some high pitched like a green treefrog (hyla cinerea) and some even bellow like an American bullfrog (rana catesbeiana) this is the pick up line. The females apparently attracted and very gravid by this time of year, are immediately grabbed up and squeezed violently for hours while the eggs pilfer out and are externally inseminated. Upon finishing the several hour ordeal an egg mass in the thousands remains with a light gel combining them and are abandoned. Within several days (temperature dependent) tadpoles are visible feeding on the left egg sacs. Over the next few weeks the metamorphosis through the various stages occurs and the ones that survive carry on the cycle of life. My intention is to go into extreme detail in a separate gallery on this topic relating my breeding experience.

Please discuss any comments or relative experience in the Ceratophrys forum here.

____deadbear____________

 

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