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New Comers To Keeping Amphibs - Don't Mix Species Topic

This is a discussion on New Comers To Keeping Amphibs - Don't Mix Species Topic within the Newt and Salamander Help forums, part of the Beginner Newt, Salamander, Axolotl & Help Topics category; Hello everyone, Also a big welcome to new comers to the Herptile hobby or to Amphibians or Caudata! What this ...

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Old 6th November 2012   #1 (permalink)
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Exclamation New Comers To Keeping Amphibs - Don't Mix Species Topic

Hello everyone,

Also a big welcome to new comers to the Herptile hobby or to Amphibians or Caudata!

What this thread shall be about is a topic which is brought up a lot by either New Hobbyists or by new keepers of a certain species/genus/order etc, and that’s Mixing Species.
It seems to be something that new comers enquire about while finding out the important husbandry facts for keeping a species of interest, some people even over look the more important questions and just ask if they can be mixed with other species.
I have also seen an increase in people mixing species without even knowing the dangers or checking important husbandry factors such as Temperatures/Habitat requirements etc that maybe very different between species.

Anyway, to help the new comers to the site and hobby I thought this thread would be a good idea, to give reasons behind why mixing isn’t a great idea instead of just saying its not a great idea. Also, I do hope this thread will get seen by either a Administrator or Moderator and made into a sticky thread so it wouldn’t have to be constantly bumped up to keep people viewing it.

Let’s begin!

Mixing Species

Firstly, don’t mix species it is as simple as that really. The practice is highly frowned upon in the Hobby, this is even more so when you don’t have enough, if any experience with keeping species with their own kind.
You may see the practice of mixing species being performed either by other keepers or in Zoo displays, which don’t very often work out or end in disaster. It's something, especially in a zoo environment, which is just used for looks and appearances in exhibits, I have heard that excuse being used numerous times by people.

There are so many reasons for not doing this and there is a lot you have to think about before even considering trying it out. Here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t and what you should think about (everyone feel free to add to list):

  • Cross Contamination: This is a huge risk due to many Zoonotic Diseases that other species may contract through unnatural contact with an unfamiliar species. This can be avoided by Quarantining (QT) however this stupid only be the case with same species mixing.
  • Natural Species Occurrence/Origin Range: Do the animals actually come across each other naturally in the wild? Believe it or not, this happens quite a lot where species that wouldn’t even come from the same Continent get mixed. I have come across new comers that have had species suggested to them immediately ask “Can species A go with species B?” Take a moment and quickly research the basic question “What’s there country of origin?”
  • Habitat Requirements: Do they require the same Habitat, Set-up and Habitat Requirements? This does tie in with the above bullet point about Natural Species Occurrence but factors such as Temperature, Humidity or Habitat behaviour such as being Arboreal, Terrestrial, Aquatic, Fossorial etc vary from species to species and
  • Possible Spread of Disease: If they are Wild Caught (WC) specimens, certain diseases may lie dormant for long periods of time or they could be carriers (sort of cross contamination but I thought it was too important not to write)
  • Possibility of Toxin Secretion: Amphibians all have natural toxins, these are all species specific but they could easily poison each other if either species is stressed enough to secrete them.
  • Stress Related Reasons: Causing the animal(s) stress from being with a species they may not naturally come across. Stress can easily lower the immune system and cause illnesses which can lead to Death or future health problems that can reoccur or permanently stay.
  • Size of the Individuals (Same species applies): Caudata can be cannibalistic if they ever get the chance, especially when in larval form. However mixing young specimens which are considerably smaller than full grown Adults is a bad idea also, for obvious reasons. Most species, even with its own kind, have the risk of eating each other due to size which can be a Sexually Dimorphic trait (Differences between sexes with Size, Ornamentation or Behaviour), however in however it can be simply plain greed which is the case with White’s Tree Frogs which are notorious for doing so.
  • Risk of Attacking/Eating each other: Like I have said above some may attack either in defence or because they view the other species as a possible food source. This can even occur with Fish species being kept with a Caudata species such as Axolotls.
  • Unnatural Breeding/Hybrid Specimens: It is possible for this to happen depending on the animals such as Poison Dart Frogs, Mantella and Tylototriton. It isn’t something that can be easily achieved however it is a reason worth bringing up, hybridisation is highly frowned upon especially with endangered or threatened species. In the wild, this has become a factor behind the decline of certain species, one being the Japanese Giant Salamander (Andrias japonicus) which is threatened by the introduction of the Chinese Giant Salamander (Andrias davidianus) that isn’t just a competitor, but also capable of breeding with them.
  • Space Requirements: Is the enclosure is big enough to allow each individual animal to pick a retreat and live it's lifestyle without interference from others. Allowing enough Hides is vital. Even a big enclosure wouldn't be natural for two species to coexist together, don't forget the wild doesnt have glass walls.
If you know of anymore reasons then feel free to comment with what reasons you think are worth mentioning.

Either way, mixing species does contradict some of the Five Freedoms that are used for a basis of Livestock Husbandry, those being:

  • Freedom to Express Normal Behaviour - by providing sufficient enclosure conditions and company of the animal's own species or avoiding company of unfamiliar species.
  • Freedom from Fear and Distress - by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering and anguish.

As I said before, experienced keepers who have either have experience with mixing species or even just keeping amphibians in general, should be the only people mixing.
Don’t use Mixing Species as an excuse or a solution to a problem such as not having enough space for another Tank, can’t afford to buy other equipment or because you can’t decide between the two or more species, mixing can really cause more problems than it is actually worth in the long run. If you can’t afford to buy another Tank with Set-up then wait, be patient while you save up for what you need, which will also give you time to do more research into husbandry of the species.


This topic is one that’s constantly under debate as some keepers have never had problems with the practice, but there are numerous incidents where mixing has had a bad outcome. Either way, people all have their own personal opinion on the subject, they may agree, disagree or even delve deeper into the subject but most aspects are agreed upon.

Just do plenty of research prior to either buying a individual species, as there is a lot of people purchasing animals without bothering to do the tiniest amount of research before hand. If a pet shop tells you it's ok, just double check to make sure as at the end of the day they are out to make money and not all of them care.

Thank you for reading and hope this helps those of you new to the hobby.

TyloDude
AKA TylototritonGuy

P.S Do plenty of Research, Research, Research, Research and Research…. And on top on that a little bit more Research! Haha can't stress that enough.



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Last edited by TylototritonGuy; 6th November 2012 at 03:36.
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Old 6th November 2012   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Comers To Keeping Amphibs - Don't Mix Species Topic

The following link will take you do disasters caused by Mixing Species or with Different sizes:

Caudata Culture - Species Mixing Disasters


In the article you will find a list of 73 different species mixing examples that have happened from stories about Axolotls (A.mexicanum) being mixed with tropical fish species to even a Mandarin Crocodile Newt (T.shanjing) being kept with a Red Eyed Tree Frog.

Most of these stories just come down to the fact hardly any research was done prior to purchasing the animals.

Here is an example (you can find in the listed link) of a situation that could of been avoided if the keeper had researched more:

Mandarin Newt + Tree frog
"Mandarin and tree frog"
November 08, 2001 at 13:16:43:
"My very first salamander ever was a mandarin. i had no idea how to care for it, so i put it in my red-eyed tree frog tank. needless to say, the 80F degree temps alone took their tole on the mandarin. not only that, but one of the red-eyes died in the same week i put the salamander in, probably because of stress and/or foreign pathogens. so, i quarantined the mandarin and did my research on how to care for her and what went wrong. she stopped eating and began to develop white sores on her head and lower back, which i treated with kanacyn and neosporin. i think that the only reason she lived is because i got her out of there just in time. i learned a hard lesson about researching species before purchasing them."
Forgot to write this in the main post, this thread is an old one I had written before. However I thought it needed improving and that how it was written needed to be changed :)



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Old 8th November 2012   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Comers To Keeping Amphibs - Don't Mix Species Topic

Bump up :)



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Old 18th November 2012   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Comers To Keeping Amphibs - Don't Mix Species Topic

Why isn't this a sticky?



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Old 20th November 2012   #5 (permalink)
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Thumbs up Re: New Comers To Keeping Amphibs - Don't Mix Species Topic

Quote:
Originally Posted by esn View Post
Why isn't this a sticky?
Haha I would like it to be a sticky if I'm honest, would save a lot of time having to bump it up to keep it being seen! lol :L



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Old 20th November 2012   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Comers To Keeping Amphibs - Don't Mix Species Topic

Frankly, I disagree with the premise.

If you do a reasonable amount of background research and use some common sense, there really is no good reason to NOT mix species. Properly done, mixed species displays may actually be safer than single-species displays, because when all else is considered, the latter are 100% in competition!

Likewise, the whole "species mixing disasters" should be taken with a grain of salt. The vast majority of the examples clearly involved people who DID NOT DO BASIC RESEARCH! Most of the examples involve ONE species which is notoriously aggressive even with its own kind! Using that thread as an example is just as bad as doing no research, because in both cases you end up generalizing in ways which have little to do with the available information.

The example offerd above is certainly a good example of bad choices - wrong continents, wrong climates. However, there's actually nothing there to indictae that problems were the result of species mixing in any way! The absolute problem was wrong environment and disease. Wrong environment was determined not by the animals included, but by how their cage was established and maintained. Disease may or may not have had anything to do with cagemates, Plenty of animals get sick without outside contact. Otherwise, the animals in question would likely have been perfectly compatible and not interfered with one another in any way.

I did not post to this thread previously because I think the precaution is fair: don't mix until and unless you have the knowledge, experience, and research necessary to do it in a sensible way. I disagree with the notion that "mixing is bad". That's just a stereotype based on bad examples.



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Old 20th November 2012   #7 (permalink)
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Default

The thread title addresses newcomers specifically, and you agree that only experienced and educated keepers should/can mix species with research. The point is moot because this is a basic guide for the newcomers - say, any Axolotl Andy asking if he can put a pirahna in with his new fire belly. I think this is a legitimate sticky because a good amount of people don't bother to research or search other threads before posting or attempting these things.



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Old 20th November 2012   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Comers To Keeping Amphibs - Don't Mix Species Topic

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrogEyes View Post
Frankly, I disagree with the premise.

If you do a reasonable amount of background research and use some common sense, there really is no good reason to NOT mix species. Properly done, mixed species displays may actually be safer than single-species displays, because when all else is considered, the latter are 100% in competition!

Likewise, the whole "species mixing disasters" should be taken with a grain of salt. The vast majority of the examples clearly involved people who DID NOT DO BASIC RESEARCH! Most of the examples involve ONE species which is notoriously aggressive even with its own kind! Using that thread as an example is just as bad as doing no research, because in both cases you end up generalizing in ways which have little to do with the available information.

The example offerd above is certainly a good example of bad choices - wrong continents, wrong climates. However, there's actually nothing there to indictae that problems were the result of species mixing in any way! The absolute problem was wrong environment and disease. Wrong environment was determined not by the animals included, but by how their cage was established and maintained. Disease may or may not have had anything to do with cagemates, Plenty of animals get sick without outside contact. Otherwise, the animals in question would likely have been perfectly compatible and not interfered with one another in any way.

I did not post to this thread previously because I think the precaution is fair: don't mix until and unless you have the knowledge, experience, and research necessary to do it in a sensible way. I disagree with the notion that "mixing is bad". That's just a stereotype based on bad examples.
I do agree with you slightly and I think that both of our opinions tie in pretty closely however this is aimed at new keepers that don't really do their research or haven't done any at all.

This is the majority of what this thread is about, at the end of the day not everyone bothers to do research or when given advice they simply ignore it and do it anyway only to come back with their tails between their legs. Yes, research is vital and if you do plenty of it (like i said at the very end of the starter post) then it may be achieved, however jumping into something without proper or enough knowledge is what this thread is trying to avoided. I have worded it as such that I basically say "Don't Do it" but I have had this thread before telling both sides of the coin and simply got that torn to shreds because it looked like I couldn't make up my mind.

However I do disagree entirely with the comment about "may actually be safer than single-species displays, because when all else is considered, the latter are 100% in competition!" What is stopping the other two species from competing against each other? With exactly the same conditions such as Food, space etc? Surely it would cause just the same amount of problems as same species competition would. In fact wouldn't you say competition between same species is unavoidable and pretty normal behavior. It is almost as if you are saying Mixing species can potentially solve problems, which isn't really the case at all (In the eyes of New Keepers).

I do also disagree that the following comment you made about the example which was:

Quote:
Originally Posted by FrogEyes View Post
a good example of bad choices - wrong continents, wrong climates. However, there's actually nothing there to indictae that problems were the result of species mixing in any way! The absolute problem was wrong environment and disease. Wrong environment was determined not by the animals included, but by how their cage was established and maintained.
It was entirely to do with species mixing, these animals don't belong together even in the wild. They have entirely different habitat requirements which at the end of the day does make it a problem caused by Mixing Species (which yes is contributed to lack of research, however this doesnt mean its not a case of bad mixing). Stress may of also caused the Tree Frog to die in the example, also contributing evidence that the death was a result of Bad Species Mixing. Yes the out come was a result of bad choices but the point remains those bad choices were made and were to do with Mixing Species.

Not everyone has common sense and will blindly follow instructions given by a shop or from a single source, which could potentially be bad advice. Recently there was a big rage on a thread where someone was keeping Axolotl's with a Plec and the person was told it was absolutely fine by the shop but as soon as someone saw it, it kicked off. This thread will also prevent that from happening because 9 times out of 10 people leave and never come back, which is a bad thing and can be avoided. Yes tons of research needs to be done before hand however saying that its common sense to do something doesnt mean a lot of people won't try and do it because they haven't got a clue.

Just remember this thread is directed more towards people that haven't or aren't doing the right research and looking into things deeper.



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Default Re: New Comers To Keeping Amphibs - Don't Mix Species Topic

Bump up :)



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Default Re: New Comers To Keeping Amphibs - Don't Mix Species Topic

bump bump



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Old 31st December 2012   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: New Comers To Keeping Amphibs - Don't Mix Species Topic

With a recent thread that cropped up to do with Mixing, I am bumping this up again to try and stop people or get them to actually think about stuff before hand!



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