This charismatic species, with long slender limbs, and bulbous white eyes is familiar to many due to its frequent immortalization in various forms of print, especially in post cards, books and other paraphernalia geared to tourists visiting Costa Rica and nature lovers in general. Its status in the wild however, is far less certain. Viable populations are currently known to remain at only a mere handful of locations in Costa Rica and Panama. It is considered Critically Endangered and is IUCN Red Listed.
The species is a remarkable one to maintain in captivity. We have had the pleasure of working with this species since October 2009, when we received a small number of juveniles from the CRARC. These along with the addition of subsequent animals (also from CRARC) form the basis of our large breeding colony housed at our facility in Canada.
Prior to acquisition of the animals we had received mixed reports from various sources as to what to expect with these frogs in captivity. What we aim to do here is describe how we have managed these frogs, which we have found to be extremely hardy and unproblematic in captivity.
Hylomantis Lemur Captive Care
All post metamorphic froglets are placed immediately in a simple vivarium with a substrate consisting of about 3 cm of moist sphagnum moss, and a single potted broad leafed plant. (Make sure the sphagnum substrate is well compacted) The vivarium should be well ventilated, and we prefer those with ventilation both above and below the front opening door. If you choose to use a vivarium that is only top opening, such as a retrofitted aquarium, please ensure that at least 25% of the “lid” is screened to allow proper ventilation.
Froglets will spend the day sleeping on the underside of leaves, and often on the underside of the lid of the vivarium. We spray them liberally once daily just prior to “lights out”. Once awakened the frogs are quite active and will forage and explore. Though they are predisposed to a deliberate hand over hand walking, when they desire, their frail looking legs are easily capable of propelling them rapidly across even a large very large vivarium. They are impressively agile and are as competent navigating whilst upside down as they are right side up.
We feed our lemur every second or third night on appropriately sized crickets. Recent metamorphs will occasionally take D. hydei, but this should not be considered a staple. A good gauge of an appropriate sized cricket is one which is a little shorter than the width of the frog’s head. We never feed adult lemur anything larger than half-inch crickets. The frogs will descend to forage and will also eagerly catch crickets as they climb up either the plants or other furnishings. Care should be taken not to over-feed these frogs. They should appear lean and slender.
The sphagnum moss substrate should be changed once every two to four weeks depending on the number of frogs housed in the vivarium. A weekly spot cleaning of fecal matter from the walls and leaves will go a long way in maintaining a clean enclosure. We do not use water dishes for these frogs, and find that the moist sphagnum substrate coupled with a daily misting allows them to remain hydrated by absorbing moisture cutaneously. Water dishes, if not diligently and regularly cleaned, foul rapidly with accumulation of fecal matter and deceased feeder insects. If you choose to provide a water dish, be diligent in keeping it clean and fresh.
Our adult breeding colonies are maintained in the same manner as described above, the only difference being the larger size of the vivarium. Night time temperatures drop to about 72 F, and daytime temperatures climb to almost 80 F. We had heard these frogs prefer cooler temperatures, but we have not found this to be the case. Certainly, any Hylomantis lemur acquired through Understory Enterprises will be well accustomed to these temperatures.
Hylomantis lemur have been an absolute pleasure to work with. We are now proud to offer captive bred animals produced at our facility in Canada. Each sale of H. lemur will help ensure that the conservation work done at the Costa Rican Amphibian Research Centre will continue. 50% of every sale (before applicable taxes) will be donated to the CRARC. We are not using any complicated formula to figure out net profit, it is simple; if you were buy $470 worth of lemur, the CRARC would receive $235!
We are excited to make these remarkable frogs available to hobbyists worldwide and in doing so allow fellow hobbyists the opportunity to acquire not only a wonderful animal, but to contribute to a wonderful amphibian conservation program at the same time.