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Is aggressive-seeming behavior always aggressive?
#1
My three auratus are doing wonderfully so far. They're probably about four months old now, and they have really started inhabiting the viv, especially now that the plants have grown quite a bit so there's much more of a literal jungle gym for them. Three-spot is still smaller but I think looks longer now; back is still skinnier than the other two so I am merely guessing that I might have a male and two females. Splotch is definitely the lead frog, in terms of hunting (though it doesn't crowd out the other two) as well as exploring, and Four-spot is the same size and shape. All three frogs have nice muscular arms and legs and they are definitely doing more reaching, stretching, and jumping instead of just sitting and hoping flies come by. Yesterday I saw Four-spot literally on its tiptoes stretching to look on top of a leaf, as well as Splotch climbing the canopy to about a foot in the air! (It then started doing a slow 360-degree turn, I assume surveying its domain.)

I've witnessed exactly one instance of what might be dominating behavior. This was Splotch sitting on top of Four-spot, not covering entirely but on the lower back and hind legs. After a little while Four-spot got out of there, and I saw no signs it was stressed out later that day; lots of hunting, eating, and hopping around. I've seen no other aggressive behaviors yet, including staring.

I wonder if this is due to Splotch sort of taking charge of the viv and testing out dominating behavior, or if it's too young even to know what it was doing. In all other aspects, the three of them get along fine, although I know that's not a guarantee that all is well. Obviously I'll be keeping an eye on this, but I'm just curious if frogs are always being aggressors when they do this, or if there could be another explanation.

Thanks!
A girl named Joey.
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#2
P.S. There are lots of visual barriers and places for the frogs to hide if they want to.
A girl named Joey.
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#3
Aggression and dominance are both natural animal behaviour, but they are magnified in the vivarium and it's small confines. They only become a problem if they result in constant stress and subsequent loss of health / debilitation. Not always correctly noted by newer hobbyists.

Dendrobates auratus are kind of a curious species.Many report that they do will in communal groupings of all different sex ratios and an equal amount of hobbyists report frequent aggression - more frequent than many other species of dart frogs and as unhelpful as this may sound, I agree. I've owned breeding pairs and groupings of blue and black, green and black and highland bronze.

So to answer your question, if it looks like 'aggression' it most likely is. Is it a death sentence or cause for calling 911 ? Not always. Monitor feeding as that's the time when you will most likely get a good idea of the overall mood and dynamic of your vivarium and the frogs in general. If it looks 'really bad' and you see it frequently - separate.
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"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".
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#4
Thanks, Phil, very helpful. Everyone seems excited and happy at feeding time, and without any incident they will feed in almost the same spot or pass each other on their way someplace else. Of course I'll keep a look out, but good to know that a little of this behavior isn't the end of the world.
A girl named Joey.
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#5
Today I finally saw frog-on-frog action. When I turned on the light, I saw Splotch standing near the opening to a hollow log that a dead leaf has perfectly covered one end except for a tiny entrance for a frog. As I watched, Four-spot stuck its nose out. It was quite a while before it finally came out; it seemed like Splotch might have been intimidating it.

Later -- and I swear, I'm not watching the viv 24/7, I had just come back into the room and saw Splotch completely on top of Four-spot. Before I could do anything, the two of them started to tussle for about two seconds, then Four-spot just hopped away and kept on hunting and eating like nothing had ever happpened, and soon Splotch went back to hunting as well. I sort of got the idea this might have been the first or one of the first times that Four stood up to Splotch.

My hypothesis is possibly strengthened by later seeing Four touching Three for the first time. Not covering the body at all, just Four's front feet on Three's lower back. Again, after a moment, Three hopped away and things went back to normal. Or it might have been a defensive reaction, because the two of them had just coincidentally hopped into the same place at the same time.

I'm interested to see that despite all this, everyone is behaving normally. Lots of energy, hunting, and eating. At feeding time earlier, all three went to town on the buffet like flies were being discontinued. And I've witnessed all three being near each other or crossing close to each other and no other aggressive behavior.

So based on what you said, given that other than this activity everyone is doing well, eating, exploring, and growing, I shouldn't worry just yet? If frogs are actively tussling, would a quick mist of water (over them, not right on them) be a good idea, or just let them have it out?
A girl named Joey.
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#6
It's just hard to say Joey. Frogs are just like people - some get along great and some never do. If I saw wrestling a lot, @ everyday or so...then I would separate one of the two frogs in question.
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#7
As always, I'll keep an eye out.

[youtube]8UhkgEvj418[/youtube]

if you'd like a look at them. Four-spot's on the bottom, Splotch is the middle one, and Three-spot (my suspected male) is on top. I went to take it because they were all snacking like mad, but once I had them framed and hit record, like magic they slowed down. And then you can see Four leap out of the frame RIGHT when I hit stop. :lol:
A girl named Joey.
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#8
Nice video. They are good sized and look really healthy.
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