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asian bullfrogs mating
18 Oct 2018

Asian bullfrogs breed in captivity for the first time at Slimbridge

For the first time in an institution in England we have bred Asian bullfrogs in captivity here at Slimbridge.

This large burrowing frog is naturally found throughout Asia, living in damp, humid wetland habitats. It is known as a bullfrog because of the ‘moo-ing’ call it makes to attract a female. The frog spends much of its life underground occasionally coming out at night and only emerging to mate with a female.

We recently designed a new tank for our Asian bullfrogs to encourage them to come out from their burrows and breed. The tanks included rain shower heads, thermostatically controlled temperatures, different flooding depths and plants you would expect to find in their natural environment in Asia.

Jay Redbond, WWT Slimbridge amphibian specialist said “We decided to recreate the natural environment for the Asian bullfrogs by increasing the rainfall in August to mimic the Asian monsoon season. Thanks to our British weather we had a storm in August too which led to a drop in climatic pressure and low and behold the males came out from their burrows and began their mating calls to attract a female.”

In August Asian bullfrog eggs appeared in the tank and within a few days they hatched into tadpoles. The tadpoles had veracious appetites and our first two froglets emerged a few days ago.

Asian bullfrog tadpole

Although this species is not endangered itself its natural home in Asia is. Due to habitat loss and destruction from logging and farming their natural wetland environments are being lost at an alarming rate. They are also under pressure from the European pet trade and thousands are collected from the wild each year.

Jay said “It’s really important to us that we are inspiring and educating the next generation to care for our wetland habitats and the creatures than live in them that’s why we have such a large collection of amphibians here at Toad Hall at Slimbridge”.

Asian bullfrog froglet

Jay said “We’ve had our Asian bullfrogs for over ten years and it’s important to us that we can breed them in captivity so that we maintain a small sustainable population here without having to have any impact on the pet trade”.

Visitors will hopefully get the chance to see our newly emerged young Asian bullfrogs in December at our daily amphibian talks at Toad Hall at 2.15pm daily, and 12.30pm on weekends and school holidays.