Hi there! Sara from the Herpetology Department again. You might remember me from my recent #TakeoverTuesday, and I’m back to give y’all another inside scoop into the reptile and amphibian department!
When you visit Zoo Atlanta, you probably spend a bit of time looking into each habitat in order to find whatever animal might be living inside. Once you find the animal, you probably then move on to the next habitat, right? Did you know that you could actually be missing out on getting to see some pretty amazing animals by doing so? Some of Zoo Atlanta’s habitats are what is referred to as a mixed-species habitat, which means that more than one type of animal can be found in the same habitat!
A great example of a mixed-species habitat is our large triangle habitat near the entrance of Scaly Slimy Spectacular. Looking into this habitat, you probably found a green and black dart frog or two hopping around. But did you know that there are actually two other species of frogs in this habitat as well? Yes, two! This habitat also houses tiny strawberry dart frogs, and, as of last week, houses red-eyed tree frogs as well!
These three different species of frogs can coexist well because they all occupy a different niche in the environment, meaning they utilize different environmental aspects. For instance, red-eyed tree frogs are the highly arboreal (tree-dwelling), while the other two species are not. This allows the red-eyed tree frogs to take advantage of the higher spaces in the habitat that otherwise might not be frequently used. Another example of niche use would be the strawberry dart frogs consuming the smaller insects that the other two larger species of frogs might not expend energy in hunting. The small size of the strawberry dart frogs makes them perfect for pursuing tiny insects!
Next time you’re at Zoo Atlanta, spend a little bit more time at each habitat to make sure you get the most out of your visit. You never know what hidden treasures you could be missing!
Keeper I, Herpetology