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Zoo hails ‘world first’ captive breeding of rare poison frog

The breeding of a Summers’ poison frog by staff at Paignton Zoo in Devon is thought to be a world first.

A critically endangered frog has been bred in captivity for the first time.

The breeding of a Summers’ poison frog by staff at Paignton Zoo in Devon is thought to be a world first.

This species was only described in 2008 when it was separated from the red-headed poison frog and identified as a separate species.

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Paignton Zoo, where the Summers' poison frog was bred in captivity (Barry Batchelor/PA)

This striking amphibian is known in only a few locations in central Peru and is listed as globally endangered.

It is thought the frog lives and breeds in much drier habitats than similar frogs, and it lays its eggs in tropical flowering Dieffenbachia (dumb cane) plants and in holes in trees.

Dr Katy Upton, from Paignton Zoo, said: “According to the global computer database for zoo records, we are the first collection to successfully breed this species.

"Costa Rican researchers have confirmed they found one specimen of Craugastor escoces, a native frog species known here as the Rana Vientre Rojo (red-bellied frog), last seen here in 1986."

Posted by SAVE THE FROGS! on Wednesday, June 7, 2017

“This may be because of the recent taxonomic change of this species, but we are proud to have the Summers’ poison frog here and excited to be able to display this incredible frog to our visitors.”

The frog was bred at the zoo’s state-of-the-art amphibian facility.

Experts created microhabitats which maintained the ideal temperature, UV levels, rainfall and humidity in order to encourage breeding.

They also provided suitable sites for eggs and tadpoles, so the frogs could display natural behaviours and care for their young as they would in the wild.

Dr Upton added: “We have four other species from the same genus in the collection, which we are hoping to breed in the near future. Then we can share with other collections so they can work with this amazing dart frog, too.”

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