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Reptiles/Green Tree Frog Seizing

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Question
Hello,

Earlier this month I adopted two Australian Green Tree frogs. They are housed in a 12 gallon tank, light for 12 hours a day, temperature kept between 75-85F, and humidity around 80.

Today while cleaning out the habitat, the smallest of the two seemed to have seized and fell form the top of the tank. His front and back limbs remained outstretched, and he didn't seem to be breathing. After dampening the frog and separating him from the other, he came around and began to climb again. However, approximately six hours later, he seems to have seized again, and once more within 30 minutes. He was laying by his water bowl, outstretched in a similar manner when he fell.

The frogs are fed mealworms and crickets on alternating days. Crickets are housed in a separate container, provided with orange cubes and dusted with vitamin C.

The second frog seems to be in great health.

What could be wrong with him?

Answer
Hi Ashley,

One of the more common causes of seizures in captive reptiles is low blood calcium levels due the the critical role calcium plays in transmitting nerve impulses. It can start with slight trembling or twitching of the toes but can also manifest in the type of seizures that you described. These are often triggered by some minor stress such as handling. If you are lucky, they come out of it after a few seconds but the seizures can also be fatal.

High levels of phosphorous in a diet affects an animal's ability to absorb calcium from that diet. In order for calcium to be absorbed, it should be present in a 2 to 1 ratio to phosphorous. Crickets and mealworms have low calcium levels and high phosphorous levels, in other words, exactly the opposite of what is needed.

You need to dust the insects with a powdered calcium supplement just prior to feeding  to correct that imbalance. The presence of vitamin D3 will increase the ability to absorb calcium as well.

I use RepCal which comes in a phosphorous free version and with vitamin D3.

Infections and toxins can also potentially cause seizures but calcium deficiency is the most common husbandry related cause.  

http://www.anapsid.org/tetany.html

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Expertise

I can answer questions on the proper husbandry and diet of Iguanas, bearded dragons, geckoes, skinks, chameleons, tortoises, box turtles, treefrogs, non-venomous snakes and tarantulas. Also the breeding of some species of feeder insects. I have no experience with venonmous snakes and only limited experience with aquatic turtles.

Experience

I have been keeping and breeding reptiles for over 30 years. In addition to my regular job in the medical field I also worked for several years in a pet store that specialized only in exotics. The job entailed both caring for and answering questions on innumerable species. It required constant, extensive research into a wide range of reptiles. I have been called to appear on televised national media (CBC, CTV and Life Channel) as well as CBC radio to discuss the proper care of reptiles and other exotics in captivity. I currently own one or more species of those listed under my expertise with the exception of chameleons. I owned chameleons for years but keep none currently. I keep over 20 snakes comprising 5 species, both Colubridae and Boidae. I bred corn snakes for several years. I have a particular interest in treefrogs and currently have 5 different species. I've raised redfoot tortoises for 10 years and have two iguanas, one for 12 years.

Publications
A small and now defunct local magazine called "Pet Vue"

Education/Credentials
Diagnostic medical microbiology with some parasitology experience.

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