At Josh’s Frogs, we’re dedicated to providing the best animals we can. To us, this means our animals are healthy! There are many things we do every day to ensure the health of the animals we work with, and one of the most important is quarantine.
All new arrivals at Josh’s Frogs undergo a 3 month quarantine process. During this time, we follow carefully planned protocols to ensure that any animals leaving quarantine are healthy and do not pose a risk to the rest of the livestock at Josh’s Frogs. There are 4 key factors that play a role in successful quarantine.
The Room. While under quarantine, our animals are housed in a specially built room (located away from the rest of the animal areas) that can only be accessed by a select few staff members. The quarantine room is sealed and is only accessed at the end of the day, after the employee has completed all other animal duties. As soon as quarantine procedures are completed, the employee clocks out and goes home – under no circumstances does the employee return to the animal rooms! This flow, similar to the flow in a prep kitchen, minimizes the risk that some nasty pathogen or disease hitches a ride on an employee and makes its way to the other animals. The quarantine room also has a foot bath containing a veterinary grade disinfectant. Upon entry, the employee steps into a pair of rubber boots that are left standing in the disinfectant when not in use. The room is built in a way that allows it to be completely washed down between batches of animals. The R/O supply to the quarantine room has a series of check valves, ensuring water (and any nasties) do not backwash into the main water system.
Housing. Animal enclosures consist largely of easily disinfected glass aquaria, with plastic water bowls and paper towel for substrate. Fake plants are utilized and are completely disinfected weekly. Dart frogs are housed in very basic naturalistic vivaria – the enclosure must be gutted if anything turns up in testing, but we find the frogs are less stressed in a more naturalistic environment.
Testing. All animals that enter quarantine at Josh’s Frogs undergo testing for Chytrid and Ranavirus. We are always surprised at the sources for positive tests, as both of these diseases can live in a host and not cause the animal to show any visible sign of illness until a stressful event triggers the disease to display. It is entirely possible for an animal to appear outwardly healthy, only to carry Chytrid or Ranavirus, and infect the rest of your collection. That’s the main driver behind us developing our Chytrid and Ranavirus Testing Kit. Animals that receive a fecal test are treated (generally with Flagyl or Panacur), then retested after 90 days to see if the treatment was successful. I cannot put enough emphasis on the importance of testing your frogs – just because an animal appears to be healthy does not mean it is!
Time. Quarantine must last long enough for animals to be tested and treated if necessary, and long enough for any issues to manifest and be diagnosed. Keeping an eye on a frog housed in a plastic shoebox for a couple weeks before releasing it into the vivarium is not quarantine, even though we hear this thrown around a lot! 90 days is a minimum – we often hold animals in quarantine for 4-5 months if more time is required for treatment, or if the animals “just don’t look right”. Better safe than sorry!
Please incorporate some of our methods into your own frog keeping adventure. It’s not a fun or glamorous part of frog keeping, but it’s a necessary one if you wish to keep your frogs healthy and happy!
Zach is the Curator of Fauna, he leads the entire animal operation here at Josh’s Frogs. He also answers all customer questions about animals. You may see him on the road at one of our trade shows. When Zach goes home he maintains over 40 vivaria of his own, and he's been caring for reptiles for over 25 years! Zach has his Bachelor's of Science in Biology from MSU.