The River's Edge

Saffron toucanet

Saffron toucanet, Pteroglossus bailloni

This toucanet is easily identified by its saffron yellow head and breast, olive mantle and red rump. Sexes are similar but the female is duller (somewhat more olive in color) and the bill is shorter. The greenish-horn bill has red patches surrounded by yellowish-gray at the base. The rump and ocular skin are red. The iris is pale yellowish.

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Blue poison dart frog

Blue poison dart frog, Dendrobates azureus

When these amazing frogs first appeared in zoos in the 1970s, they created a sensation and remained very rare in collections until the mid-1980s. They are now widespread in captivity, thanks to their popularity. As with other poison dart frogs, captive-bred animals raised on fruit flies and crickets lose their toxic qualities. Found only on a few “islands” of forest, arising out of the Sipaliwini savannah of Suriname and Brazil, they are considered vulnerable to extinction, so that their status as a self-sustaining captive population is especially satisfying.

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Budgett’s frog

Budgett’s frog, Lepdibatrachus laevis

Named after J. S. Budgett, who studied lungfish, bichers, and amhibians in South America and Africa over a hundred years ago, this unique frog could be said to resemble a cross between a hippopotamus and a potato. Even the tadpoles have enormous mouths and are cannibals, making their propagation difficult for amphibian keepers. They do not have teeth, but can inflict painful bites with sharp-edged structures in the jaws. Found in Paraguay, Argentina, and Bolivia, these relatives of the horned frogs were very rare in captivity before the 1980s.

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Green and black poison dart frog

Green and black poison dart frog, Dendrobates auratus

From Panama and Colombia, this is one of the most familiar of the poison dart frogs in collections, and is considered comparatively easy to keep and breed. It was introduced to the island of Oahu more than 50 years ago, and can be seen in front yards in suburbs of Honolulu. It continues to do well in its native habitat as well.

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Black-banded leporinus

Black-banded leporinus, Leporinus fasciatus

Growing to a foot in length, this eye-catching relative of tetras and piranhas is a typical inhabitant on flooded forests in South America. For more than 50 years it has been very popular in the pet trade. While having a reputation for harassing other fishes in home aquariums, it is not aggressive in roomy accommodations.

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Polka-dot stingray

Polka-dot stingray, Potamotrygon leopoldi

This species has a restricted range in South America, found only in the Xingu River Basin of Brazil, creating a concern that mining or other polluting activities could threaten it. Because of its striking pattern, it is highly valued for aquarium displays, and is now being captive bred around the world.

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