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Packaged moss is garbage.

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  • Packaged moss is garbage.

    As some of you may know I recently started keeping tree frogs and I just wanted to take a minute to describe what has been going on around here the last few days. I have been keeping my frogs on a bed of compressed coconut husk soil and compressed moss. Since we bought the first frog I have been reading debates on whether or not these types of substrates are good for frogs and have decided I am certainly going to say they are bad.

    Our first frog just had a cloaca prolapse three days ago and this prolapse was caused by an impaction of moss which caused her to strain when making a bowel movement. A prolapsed cloaca (in frogs)) is quite common and can be caused from a variety of issues including parasites, straining to expel eggs or foreign materials, dehydration and plain constipation to name a few. With so many causes for a possibly fatal ailment it only makes sense to reduce as many of these possibilities as you can.

    When the frogs are hunting for their crickets they invariably get some of this loose soil and moss in their mouths and many times are not able to pull it out without losing the cricket as well, so down it goes. As far as I can tell, the frogs are not able to digest this material at all and so many times you end up with this



    What we did was to give the frog a bath in warm sugar water, two tablespoons per ounce of water (very sugary) and let her soak for 25-30 minutes. The reason for this is to allow the sugar to draw out some of the liquid in the cloaca so that it can retract on it's own. This gave us a very small improvement and I should mention that after translating quite a few posts on some Euro boards I discovered just plain sugar (NOT powdered) applied to the area with no water is their preferred method. The next step typically is either a vet visit or to try and push the cloaca back in with a cotton swab and some water based lubricant. Since she had quite a bit of material still blocked up I did not think this was appropriate and left her for the night to see how things went.

    She seemed to be doing a lot better the next day, after misting every hour to keep the cloaca from drying out it had retracted almost completely. Later in the day however she began to act listless and would close one eye partially. There was a strong odor of ammonia and I think she had spent the night letting go of urine she couldn't pass with the swelling. With a switch to another quarantine tank with fresh water and paper towel she seemed to be much better. The obstruction was still visibly bothering her though so I decided to take her to the vet today.

    When I woke up today I knew my girlfriend had already been in the room and when I went in I was pleasantly surprised. The obstruction had loosened up enough that she was able to remove it piece by piece with forceps. The frog is so much more alert and "happy" looking now and I thin she will make a full recovery. We just have to keep her off of food for now as a bowel movement could be damaging at this stage.

    If you are planning to keep frogs or already have some on this stuff I urge you to remove it and just use moist paper towel as your substrate until you can set up and plant a proper vivarium. Feeding in a separate tub can solve this issue, however many times the frog will not want to eat in a strange environment and also they may still ingest it even if there are no bugs present. Another good way to avoid this problem is feeding a few more smaller crickets instead of their usual number of larger ones. The reason is that the smaller cricks offer more meat to shell ratio and so they are digested much easier.

    I'll be moving her back into her regular enclosure tonight after I sanitize everything (on paper towel this time) and will get some updated pics of her poor skinny butt when I do that.

    Mat.

  • #2
    Re: Packaged moss is garbage.

    DUDE nice frog there but i have no idea waht u just said.

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    • #3
      Re: Packaged moss is garbage.

      I remember using that stuff for the frogs when I took care of them

      Soaking that dry moss in water then placing it in their enclosure.

      I'm certain real true fresh moss would be more acceptable

      Or nothing at all as your post suggests

      Thanks for the great post

      Lar M
      Boas By Klevitz

      sigpic

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      • #4
        Re: Packaged moss is garbage.

        Thanks Lar. True moss and by that I mean mosses that have been allowed to grow and root would be more than acceptable. This stuff just sits on the surface and even if you tamp it down it still gets stirred and fluffed up by the frogs so they end up ingesting it. I plan on planting a real vivarium soon but until then I think the best temporary substrate for these guys is paper towel.

        Mat.

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        • #5
          Re: Packaged moss is garbage.

          My friend has a tank set up with just eco earth and real plants. He's had no problems with it what so ever. Has about 6 differnt frogs in there and all are doing great.

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          • #6
            Re: Packaged moss is garbage.

            Originally posted by MX121 View Post
            My friend has a tank set up with just eco earth and real plants. He's had no problems with it what so ever. Has about 6 differnt frogs in there and all are doing great.
            I'm using something similar underneath the moss and have used it by itself before but don't like it. I've already had problems with the coconut soils as they get into the water features and a lot of it gets digested. Also you need to replace it quite often as it becomes soaked with urine and the ammonia builds up very quickly, paper towels are much easier to replace. In a proper vivarium with a false bottom for drainage and a water table these soils don't really work either as they are coconut husk so they eventually break down leaving the plants and grasses with little to root into and no real nutrients to process. IMO I would just rather switch to paper towel for while until the vivarium is finished rather than possibly lose hundreds of dollars in frogs because of loose substrates. Another thing I don't like about those soils is how dirty they make everything look, it gets all over the frog and anywhere it goes.

            Mat.

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