Thursday, August 23, 2012


Since this blog is now at the one year mark I thought it would be fun to write a little history of how I came to where I am now in this hobby. I will use as many of my own pictures as possible, but unfortunately there are very few from earlier years so, where absent, I will use representative photos with credit to the source.

It started when I was a small child. My father was a marine fish importer and would often go away to warmer places to collect. He would come home with boxes filled with brightly colored fish, crabs, shellfish, and other amazing creatures as well as stories of the places he'd been. He would tell me about lush forests and crystal clear waters. Once he came home with a baby nurse shark. Feeding that guy always scared the crap out-a me as a kid.

My Dad November 2003
My father also kept many birds, my mom raised quarter horses, we had dogs and cats, and lived in the country so from a young age I was predisposed to be an avid animal lover. Apparently the first year I could talk, I asked Santa Clause for a lizard. My dad, who never did anything small, went out and bought a whole tank full. The one I remember most was a skink that I named Elizabeth. I used to take her for walks in my baby carriage. I remember her looking a bit like this:
Throughout my childhood I had many pets, but the first frog I remember owning was an Argentine Horned Frog that my father brought home from one of his collecting trips. I loved the little guy, but when someone told me he could get big enough to eat a rabbit, I was out. I traded him to a family friend who owned a local pet store for 4 parakeets, 2 rabbits, an aquarium, and some fish. AHF's were not quite as common in those days. He looked a bit like this:
During my elementary, jr. high, and high school years I kept many frogs (mostly tree frogs) including Green, Grey, Cuban, Golden, White's, White lipped, Barking, Big-Eyed, Reed frogs, and others.
Everything I kept in my earlier years came from pet stores. When we went on vacation, my dad and I always made a habit of visiting pet stores in the area to look for unusual herps. Ordering from breeders was much more difficult back then. One of my favorite stores was always East Bay Vivarium. I used to call them the Home Depot of Reptiles. I picked up my first pair of Jackson's Chameleons there.

In 1999, I discovered Reptile Depot and one of my favorite froggers to this day, Steve Sotelo. I would look forward to Steve's visits every year at the Wasatch Reptile Expo, and he was always great at answering questions by email or phone. Steve introduced me to Uroplatus geckos. Uroplatus Phantasticus are still a favorite animal to this day.

Circa 2007
Circa 2007
In 2001, I purchased my first poison dart frog, a solid black Dendrobates Auratus from local pet store Mark's Ark.

A few other dart frogs followed in the next three years including other Dendrobates Auratus, Dendrobates Leucomelas, and Dendrobates Tinctorius (Oyapok, Patrica, and Brazillian Yellowhead).
Circa 2008

In early 2004, I decided to seek out a frog I had read an article about (I believe in Reptiles Magazine): Phyllobatess Terribilis. I found them for sale on and sent an email to the owner of the site, Thomas Villegas. I arranged to purchase 4 Phyllobates Terribilis and 2 Dendrobates Leucomelas from Thomas. As luck would have it, I had already planned a trip to his state and could pick them up from his home personally.
In the time between emails and meeting Thomas, I spent a lot of time reading through his website and looking at pictures. It was at this point that I first learned about Dendrobates (now Oophaga) Pumilio. These were the "Strawberry Poison Dart Frogs" that I had often seen on nature shows as a child. Thomas was a gracious host and took a great deal of time to go over care of the Terribilis and general dart frog chat as well. I felt honored when he showed me into his frog room for my first look at Pumilio in person. I left with my new frogs and vowed someday I would work with Pumilio.  In the summer of 2007, I finally had my chance. 

My first Pumilio came from Reptile Depot while at the Wasatch Reptile Expo. It was fitting that I would purchase it from Steve. It was a Rio Branco, a morph I have not seen for sale since. After talking with Marcus Breece, I believe the frog originated from him.   

I also picked up a 10g vivarium and "proven pair" of Ranitomeya Ventrimaculata from Tropical Ecos at this expo.  These were my first Ranitomeya.
Circa 2008
Same Viv Circa 2011
Circa 2007
In 2008, I purchased three Oophaga Pumilio Bastimentos from Pristine Tropics. I was enamored by these highly variable and amazingly beautiful little frogs.

Circa 2008
Circa 2009
Circa 2009
In early 2009, the radiant heat in my condo malfunctioned. When I came home from school one day, the temperature was over 100 degrees. My cats lay panting on the floor and everything else, fish, frogs, geckos, orchids, etc, was dead. It was time to move. My fiance and I began our hunt for a home and that summer, we found the perfect one. By October we were moved in and I started rearranging terrariums to once again accommodate life. My first purchase was four Melanophrynicus Stelzneri. This group is a lot of fun. I think the male's call is simply charming!

March, 2010
In October 2010, I finally picked up what was reported to be a pair of Cristobal Pumilio. They later turned out to both be female. These two girls have been an interesting, entertaining, and beautiful first addition to my new Oophaga clan. The recent arrival of a male to finish off the trio was an exciting day and I look forward to their first offspring! 

What a fatty
Such a handsome guy

I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to share my home with these amazing creatures and I hope you have enjoyed reading about them.

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