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The Woods Upcoming Project: Major Update

Updated: Oct 26, 2022

This update has great excitement and great disappointment. We have many encouraging circumstances and events unfolding; and one disappointing but expected occurrence.

We have started building the exhibits and getting the animals ready for the transition. Firstly, Ace and Pious moved together; and are reunited for the first time in close to three years. They appear to have a connection and seem to be happy together. In most cases, toads are solitary creatures, but especially for male toads, the presence of a female is usually good. Ace seems not to mind either. Pious knows Ace eats first: and she is the "dominant" specimen.

There has been much debate about whether native frogs and toads are territorial in captivity. Scientists say they are not, but many keepers say they are. From our point of view, they are both right. Toads in the wild are not territorial because they are nomadic and travel to get their resources. Very rarely from observation do toads acknowledge each other or other anurans in the wild. In captivity, resources are limited. The toads display unnatural behavior in not natural settings. An article from a research group in Michigan conducted a study with American toads and Northern green frogs together. They found what keepers had been saying for a long time. The green frogs tried to eat all the prey and starve the toads. Some herpetologists that work with captive animals have also claimed from their anecdotal observations that frogs and toads bully each other in captivity.

Understanding the unnatural behavior that is inevitable to happen when multiple frogs are gathered together in one enclosure as pets is why we have carefully selected each specimen for this story. Ace exhibits the behavior of trying to starve others for resources. It's thought; because females get bigger, they are bolder and are more artificially dominant than males. Ace does not seem to starve Pious, and they seem fond of one another; that is a good thing, especially for Pious.

The wood frogs are being tested for parasites along with Ace and Pious to determine how far apart the two groups are before they can move in together in a temporary enclosure as we prepare to build the exhibits in the same room. Let us hope the wood frogs have little to no parasites. We can then move the toads and wood frogs together.

We are also focusing on two very important events unfolding currently. We are planning to get the greenhouse up and running, and we are working on building the first exhibit for fauna. The Canyon Isopods have arrived and are getting ready to have a smaller invert exhibit designed for them as soon as the greenhouse is up. Both are very exciting because we are visually making progress towards the goal. We are very excited to plan for the plants coming this spring, especially the all green northern purple pitcher plant. We have a few plants in-house for the main enclosure, like blueberry, cranberry, and bog blackberry bushes. With the much larger greenhouse, we will have more room; and can get all the plants for this enclosure and begin quarantining them. The isopod colony will live inside the greenhouse. We are thrilled thinking about the greenhouse, plants, and the newly arrived isopods!

We have a lot to manage between getting the frogs and toads together in the same enclosure as they wait for their large enclosure; getting the greenhouse put together, and designing the isopod enclosure. We have enough to keep us busy for a while!

Now for the disappointing news. Queen Laurel has passed away. She stopped eating and slowly died. We were very disappointed because Laurel was with us for two years. Although she did not appear in any videos or have much information about her released, we will miss her. Laurel provided us with great experiences working with queen ants. She has set the bar very high for a predecessor. We will keep attempting to bring an ant colony or two into the PA Woods and Forests Community. Laurel's death enabled us to look at two different ant colonies. Both are carpenter ants. We could not see having a story about our woods and forests without having the most abundant ant, and the one both toads and wood frogs eat most in the wild. The pennsylvanicus carpenter ant is the most important for us. We are planning on capturing a queen this season. We are also looking at a second colony. This second colony would be chromaiodes, rusty red or cherry carpenter ants. We are hopeful with more investment in supplies and in-depth care: the future two ant colonies will become large and someday feed the 225-gallon, along with the isopod colony.

As we mourn Queen Laurel, we also must do our best to move forward with so many pieces of the project currently happening. We must also learn from the mistakes and provide a better home for the incoming ant colonies.

We have figured out the cameras and lens combos for the docu-series. We are looking at lights to illuminate the 225-gallon enclosure, and we will have more in the next blog entry.

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