For keeping dart frogs:
-You will maintain a vivarium which is an ecosystem that has flora (plants) and micro fauna. (Plants and beneficial insects).
-You will need to culture food for your darts. This means culturing (flightless) fruit flies. Dart frogs eat really small insects which are tough to buy at a just any local pet store.
Dart frogs will be dependent on you to provide the food you will likely need to produce yourself. Sounds scary, but it is very doable to those committed and and not being skittish around insects.
Plants provide shelter, help maintain humidity, and help absorb nutrient buildup (via frog/food waste and decomposition of that waste) in the substrate. Planting your vivarium should be a highlight of the process allowing you to choose tropical plants that may not survive in the typical household. They too need to be cared for. Luckily in an enclosed vivarium, adding light and water things grow pretty easily. You though may find that a monthly task is pruning back the plants. However this often gives you cuttings to produce new plants. Note most nursery store plants will need to be sterilized/ quarantined before introducing into your vivarium.
To raise Dart Frogs successfully you you need to culture fruit flies. Temperature, mold, humidity, mites and complaints from family members are a few factors that can cause issues raising flies successfully. You will want to practice culturing them until you have successful cultures that produce nicely. Otherwise you might find yourself scrambling for where to find who or where has a fruit fly culture or appropriate substitute in time to keep your frogs fed. Unlike many other animals we recommend not replying on a local pet store to provide frog food. Even if you had a reliable store (which is rare) you would spend a pretty dime in doing so. A culture store bough might run you 6-$14. One culture will last a few weeks before it needs to be discarded before it crashes (stops producing) or becomes inundated with mites. Unlike other animals there is no flake, commercial food product,.. There are supplements such as bean beetles, flour beetle larva, perhaps pin head sized crickets. These foods though are to supplement fruit flies to add a varied diet but not to replace fruit flies. Note crickets if allowed to roam free in your vivarium might eventually damage plants. Note, beetles contain chitin that is tough to digest. Thus beetles should be fed sparingly to darts.
In the dart frog vivarium you will need to maintain a tropical environment. Aside from plants/ fona the temperature will need to be maintained in the 70 degree Fahrenheit range. Humidity will typically need to be kept at 80-90% levels. We will go over how to do this. It basically comes down to adding heat or cooling. Humidity is maintained by the vivarium itself and enclosing the top with glass instead of a screen. With water present in the vivarium as heat rises so does humidity levels.
Sourcing dart frogs:
So although it might be tempting to "jumping in" to get a dart frog especially when you see it at a big box pet store, we advise to hold your horses.. umm. Hold your dollars maybe.. In any case big box stores typically are about quantity and not quality. We often see darts kept in the wrong conditions, pet carpet, no humidity, fed the wrong food, given a water dish, etc. We have seen frogs sold way too young and weak fed crickets larger than the frog itself.~~ Frogs brought under these conditions are sure to have health problems and misrepresent would be customers what a dart frog needs to be healthy. We encourage you to reach out to the local reptilian/ amphibian community to find reputable breeders. They are your best bet to give you a quality frog and help start you along with way with the right information to succeed.
So if you ever had aquarium fish, you are aware not to just toss the newcomers into your aquarium. Same things holds true for dart frogs. Your new frog may have issues that you need to identify and resolve before introducing into their final vivarium. When you bring your new dart frogs it is important to quarantine them. Minimum quarantine time would be a week. You will want to observe your frog closely. Inspect it for any visual problems. -Movement -Sores -Eating If is has issues walking or with coordination you will want to seek or medical assistance. If you frog has sores, lesions, wounds, bloated you will want to treat accordingly and only introduce with other frogs well after it has healed. If you frog is not eating well you will want to observe for issues. Does your frog seem to lack of interest in eating? May be stress or sickness. Does your from have difficultly catching flies with its tongue? Maybe (STS) Sticky tongue Syndrome usually associated with a Vitamin A deficiency. Read more about vitamins and supplementation here. The benefit of isolation when your frogs have health issues is to prevent other frogs frog getting illnesses, such as bacterial infections, fungal infections or parasites from your new frog. When in isolation your new frog will be better able to eat without competition from other frogs. A sick frog will not be able to eat as aggressively as a healthy frog which will lead to its quick demise. A quarantine enclosure can be as simple as a closed plastic shoe box container that is lined with moistened sphagnum moss and leaf litter. It is best to cover 3 of the 4 sides of a enclosure so that they are less distracted by motion or lights around them which may add to stress and stress related problems.
Lots to consider for sure. If it sounds doable and not daunting your off to a good start. We present lots of things to consider here so it dissuade someone from just going to a store and buying a dart frog without learning about them first. Don't just jump in, do your homework so you dont set yourself up to fail. The more you know the better prepared you will be and the more successful you and your frog will be. Good luck! Read more to learn more!