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A Guide to Buying Oophaga pumilio species dart frogs

Just thought I'd put pen to paper on the start of a little guide to help all level of hobbyists with specifically, pumilio species dart frogs.

There are probably thousands of people keeping Oophaga pumilio in the United States. Many do so, with some hit-or-miss degrees of success. Here are some thoughts and suggestions meant only to be a type of a guide. As always, try to count on other hobbyists to chime in on threads like these, look for high post count and reputation on forums - usually in the way of 'thanks' , 'likes' or gratitiudes for helpful posts.

Let's start of with the basics;

There are obviously two kinds of pumilio available to be purchased for your hobby purchases:

1. Wild Caught animals directly imported from Panama - Most commonly available
2. Captive bred animals - less commonly available.

There is actually a Third, much less common type - European animals. But we will get to that later.

Focusing on the WC animals - When the box clears customs, it travels to an Importer Warehouse. The largest and most commonly found such place for pumilio are located in Southern Florida. Some imports may go to California and even NYC or Baltimore, but FL is the largest by quite a bit.

From there (The Importers warehouse) they are unpacked, and many are shipped directly out to retail businesses, wholesalers or jobbers. The Importer does NOT treat or quarantine. He should not either. It is the responsibility of the second entity that gets them to do this. The importer is solely responsible for getting them in and QUICKLY getting them out. That is best practice, as it limits holding time in a crowed warehouse situation.

It is safe to say that in ALL cases of Imported amphibians, there is NEVER any sort of guarantee to include live arrival ! That has pretty much been policy for as long as I can remember with any sort of frog, toad or salamander or newt.

Now the SECOND entity that is moving the animals...they have MORE of a responsibility for their health, unless they are a JOBBER. A Jobber is someone who takes orders, sometimes hand-selects or 'cherry picks" animals ONLY when someone orders them or gives them money to do so. They stand to make a profit as well, but there are doing NOTHING more than flipping animals. They don't treat or quarantine either.

Now on to why Captive Born pumilio are safer and more highly recommended over wild caught animals.

1. They are the product of years and years worth of projects by dedicated hobbyists.
2. They are quarantined (usually in grow outs) and held until they are months or more old, in most cases, to ensure optimal survive-ability.
3. They usually always come with 'customer service'. Call or email the breeder and boom, you get help.
4. They tend to come with MUCH more of a guarantee if there is a loss or problem. Def much more of one than from Any importer.
5. You are rewarding the Breeder - the LIFE BLOOD of this hobby.
6. By obtaining Captive Born animals, you are lessening stress on Wild Caught animals and importations.

A slight recap / Cliff notes:

1. Importers - Only providing the animals - NO guarantee.
2. Flippers or Jobbers - Only taking your money to get you what an importer would anyway. Probably NO guarantee.

3. Breeders - Captive Bred animals = The BEST.

as always folks, feel free to discuss and tack on posts to's not gospel or 'dogma' as Ed would's just Hobby Forum Discussion.

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".

I just got a PM saying "Phil, it sounds like all WC stuff is bad...and the only thing we should buy is CB stuff or I'm confused"

It's kinda confusing, admittedly.

WC animals will ALWAYS come in and be in demand.

WC animals are NECESSARY for continuation and advancement of our hobby are some considerations and their examples:

If you only have a year of so under your belt, and only have experience with 1-2 types of darts....then it may be best to PASS on all WC stuff until you are more advanced.

If you live at home, go to school, have a limited budget...not a lot of extra time to devote to frog care...then you may be better off NOT trying WC animals just yet.

The problem is, everyone wants to run before they can walk AND THEN they cry about it and say "the bad bad frogs died" and its NOT MY fault.

When buying WC dart frogs, specifically BETTER have your big boy (or gal) pants on.

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".

There are MUCH less Oophaga pumilio imported into the U.S in the 2000's than in the 1990's.

What's that tell ya ?

1. Economy is shytier lately

2. WE....WE....WE are making huge inroads and gains in Captive Breeding.

Pet stores excluded, we could ALMOST provide every single person that would ask for one, with a Captive Born frog. We are breeding that many frogs.

Some thoughts

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".

Personally, I think there are several key factors to the more recent success of CB obligate breeding.
I think better husbandry information, that is more widely available via forums, has been key to these successes. The combination of long-term hobbyists, coupled with input from people with scientific backgrounds; as well as, information coming from people specifically studying pdf's, has helped make some vast improvements in the way we care for our frogs.

Some other key factors include, better supplements, including a better understanding of the frogs needs. Again, partially driven by a better understanding of the frogs needs in their natural environment, as well as, the challenges of the captive environment. Which has also helped to highlight the importance of leaf litter and microfauna. The increased understanding of the interconnection of microfauna and leaf litter has been critical to the success of getting obligate froglets through that very delicate first month or two.

I have had experience with several species of dart frogs from tincs, to thumbnails. However i have not tried any pumilio. What makes them so difficult besides being obligate egg feeders?

Raising the froglets to adulthood is not easy. Much harder than tincs or leucs ect.

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana".

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