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Avoid Brookstone When Holiday Shopping

When heading to the mall this year for your holiday shopping, chances are you’ll walk by a Brookstone store. With a couple of massage chairs set out in front, you might think that this gadgety retailer takes the comfort and the well-being of others seriously.

With so many gadgets aimed toward human relaxation, we were surprised to learn about Brookstone’s “Frog-O-Spheres” (aka tiny aquatic prisons), which seem to encourage purchasers to keep a frog in a tiny clear plastic box on their bookshelf. The Frog-O-Sphere fails as a representation of an African dwarf frog’s natural habitat.

As you can see from the care sheet below, these frogs are complex little animals who in the wild, would be exploring terrain consisting of dense aquatic vegetation and stones—not your desktop.

In November 2009, PETA went undercover at Wild Creations, the company that supplies “Frog-O-Spheres” to Brookstone. PETA’s investigator documented the rampant neglect and mishandling of African dwarf frogs and total disregard for their needs, welfare, and lives. Read more about what PETA’s investigator found. Thanks to the calls and e-mails from compassionate people, Brookstone agreed to remove the once-included snails from its Frog-O-Spheres—now if it would just stop including frogs! Please take a moment to write to Brookstone and ask that it stop imprisoning frogs. And if you find yourself dragged into a Brookstone with others while shopping, don’t hesitate to politely let the manager know that you don’t approve of the store’s actions.

Caring for African Dwarf Frogs

African dwarf frogs are social, aquatic animals who live in the warm rivers and streams of central Africa, hiding and laying their eggs in between rocks and under plants. Tens of thousands of these complex animals are bred in cruel conditions for the pet trade, which sells them in tiny plastic cubes as “low-maintenance decorations.” People who buy these frogs on a whim often have no idea how to look after them and are misled into believing that they require little care. African dwarf frogs are tiny, but they require specialized care and a lifetime commitment.

Many frogs have suffered and died because of inadequate housing and care. As veterinarian Mike McGuill points out, “Frogs have particular environmental needs …. ‘Low-maintenance’ is a myth.”

PETA urges people not to buy these frogs or any animal from a pet store. If you already have an African dwarf frog, you can make your frog’s life as comfortable as possible by following this information.

Housing

The tiny plastic cubes in which African dwarf frogs are often confined are completely inadequate for their needs. According to amphibian expert Dr. Phil Bishop, “In the wild these frogs would … normally seek shelter away from the light under stones or logs or other debris in the ponds and streams which they inhabit. … [T]hese Frog-O-Spheres are unacceptable in failing to meet the basic requirements for good animal husbandry.” Frogs need at least 10 gallons of water in a 2- to 3-foot deep tank that is covered with a lid for safety. Fill the tank with plain, clean unchlorinated spring water. If you are using tap water, use a water conditioner or let the water stand for 24 to 48 hours to allow the chlorine to evaporate before filling the tank. Change the water weekly or use a high-quality, nonvibrating filter. Include live aquatic plants in the tank to give the frogs places to hide and explore. Never release these frogs into the wild. According to Mark Berman of the Earth Island Institute, “Invasions by non-indigenous species are among one of the most severe threats to waterways around the country. … If these animals are released into the wild, it will certainly lead to drastic changes in the ecology of marine, estuarine, and freshwater systems.”

Feeding

African dwarf frogs must be fed at least once daily, especially juveniles (instructions that come with these frogs incorrectly claim that frogs only need to be fed twice weekly). Feed the frogs only enough to cause their stomachs to bulge slightly. The frogs’ stomachs are located near the middle of their left sides on their underbellies. Since African dwarf frogs are carnivorous bottom feeders, they rarely eat at the surface. Use only sinking frog and toad bites—never feed them fish flakes, hard food pellets, or freeze-dried foods, as they can cause malnutrition or deadly intestinal blockages. Frogs’ diets can be supplemented with frozen bloodworms, frozen brine shrimp, or live black worms. Just be sure to thaw frozen worms and shrimp in a small amount of the tank water.

Illnesses and Veterinary Care

Healthy African dwarf frogs are very active, especially at night, since they are nocturnal. Like all animal companions, African dwarf frogs require regular check-ups and prompt attention if they become ill. If you notice any of the following symptoms, rush your frog to a veterinarian:

Bacterial infections can cause cloudy eyes, open sores, and reddened skin.

Chytrid fungus attacks frogs’ skin, making it difficult for them to breathe and damaging their nervous systems. Symptoms include discolored skin, peeling skin (especially around the feet), rough skin, frogs sitting out in the open, sluggishness and lack of appetite, and frogs keeping their legs spread away from the body instead of tucking them in. In extreme cases, the frog’s body will be rigid, and his or her back legs will trail behind.

Dropsy is severe bloating caused by kidney failure or by poor water conditions with subsequent bacterial infection. There is no known effective treatment for dropsy. If your frog develops dropsy, immediately check the tank water’s pH, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, and temperature and perform any water changes that are required.

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  • Nadine Goudy says:

    Deb – I’m sorry, I was never notified about your question regarding how I freed my shrimp. They went from a bowl to a small one gallon tank and loved it in there. But the rocks I bought from the pet store seemed to have carried in teeny, tiny critter that attacked my shrimp and they both died. To answer your question though about the glass, I can’t remember how I broke it. I think I popped open the plug at the bottom and sort of carefully poured everything out and then lifted them out with a spoon and the little bit of water they were left with. I hope this helps and once again sorry it took me so long to respond.

  • cynthia says:

    i was gifted with one. my frogs are thriving and i am going to transfer them to a better habitat. so i saved them, essentially :)

  • Dac says:

    I got my 2 frogs about a month ago at petsmart and I was not given any instructions on how to care for them. Thankfully I did research on them that night and I am still doing every since then. I had read that you only feed them twice per week and I found out that was so not true. My two ‘babies’ like to eat every day! Also I learned that they MUST have hidding places, which I have provded for them as well. It breaks my heart how these people sell these poor little frogs and mistreat them!

  • Tara S says:

    Agree wholeheartedly about the sale/treatment of these animals. Too bad people can’t work up the compassion for other human beings like they can for animals.

  • Sue says:

    I received these frogs as a christmas present as well, because my sister thought it was a low maintenance pet that I could handle. But after I did my research, these guys actually require a lot of work! I put them in an actual aquarium the same day I got them in the mail, and not the stupid box that came with the ‘Frog-o-Sphere’. Since I received the frogs (Jan. 07), one has died–of Chytrid of all things!–and I had to quarantine the other and completely scrub down the tank. The survivor doesn’t look like he’s doing too good, and I’m afraid he’s going to follow suit as well. Both of the frogs were very skinny when I received them, and not in the healthy way.

    I feel horrible that these things are being done to frogs, and feel helpless that I can’t do much to help the one I have left. I can only hope he’ll be alright and pull through in the end.

  • Nicole says:

    Even frogs deserve the right to live natural , free lives.

  • jen says:

    I feel bad b/c my boys got these frogs as a Christmas present and we had no idea about how they are handled and the lack of proper care. We have already had one die and now I’m sad for this other one that its not getting proper care/nor good habitat.?? Shame on Brookstone .

  • Klaus Egebjerg says:

    To save animals we have to avoid Brookstone When we are doing holiday shopping.This shop is supplies frog for holidays so many frogs are killed from this so we have to aware from this and not buy that for saving animals.

  • Marie R. says:

    I hate to admit that I got these frogs for my daughter. They were overnighted to me Fedex. They arrived in a plastic bag with heat pads. I also didn’t realize what they actually require, but after I put them in their small container, which I had already decided was temporary, I began reading, and I was just gobsmacked to say the least. NOTHING in the care instructions I received with these frogs was true, according to information I got off various internet sites. Brookstone must stop selling live animals. To say that their habitat only needs cleaning every couple of months is a complete lie. The little container was just filthy when I was getting them out of it after just a week. And keeping them out in the open with bright lighting is just torturous for them. Someone else told me that Hallmark was doing this as well, and they need to be set straight. I’m highly pissed because on one hand I feel that I’ve contributed to this morally wrong thing of selling amphibians like they are toys, but on the other hand I have learned how to take care of them properly and they are now doing very well. Brookstone will be hearing from me about this.

  • K.L. says:

    i think it is absolutely terrible for people to do this for a profit. i got one for christmas and i think it is still very cruel that people do this to them think about it. send an email to all your friends to NEVER EVER SHOP AT BROOKSTONE AGAIN.

  • Breanna says:

    I used to be customer of this company and am horrified to learn that this company thinks of animals as decorations. I will discontinue shopping there untill they decide to change.

  • isabelle says:

    Poor little animals…
    I can’t even imagine how they must be feeling
    Please,please stop selling live animals.
    They’ve lost me and my family as customers as well.

  • Vivien says:

    I went into hallmark the other day to find one of these ridiculous frog “habitats” its really sad what people do just to make a nickle!

  • Amy says:

    I was at the mall a couple weeks ago, and The Hallmark Store also had these for sale. There was one sitting on the counter, and I asked the girl what was with the frogs, and she told me all the lies (feed 2x week, low maintenance, etc.) and that they are for sale (forgot the price) and would I like one. I said no, and this customer won’t be shopping here as long as they are choosing to sell live animals.

  • Sarah says:

    i have african dwarf frogs but i keep them in a big tank with plants and all the stuff that an african dwarf frog could want! i want this frog selling and this cruel act to STOP!

  • lauren-elise says:

    aw, these poor little frogs.
    I live in australia, and most of our native frogs are indangered, id be furious if they were treated the way these african frogs are.
    Screw you Brookstone. Your company is spineless and cold. Why would you think of treating a living breathing creature? Let me stick you in an unbearable plastic perison cell and see how you like it. Would you like your child locked in one? Didnt think so.

  • Fran Takacs says:

    This is really terrible! I cant believe someone would actually do this for a profit, I hope they lose their shirt. I am pasting this info on my facebook page.

  • Deb says:

    Nadine, I have one of those shrimp and would love to free mine,too. Can you give more specific instructions as to how to do it (how did you break the glass without hurting them? what do they eat? how much, etc)

  • Nadine Goudy says:

    I fell into their trap about 5 years ago and bought the ecosphere with the shrimp. I’ve been feeling guilty about the little guys every day ever since so finally I did some research and about 4 months ago I freed them! I broke the seal on the container and they now live in a little bowl. They have grown to twice their previous size and now have some color!!! Yippee! I’m still furious though that I even considered buying one in the first place.

  • Patricia Berry says:

    Please stop this inhumane practice of selling frogs.

  • Patricia Berry says:

    Please stop selling this inhumane product. I refuse to shop any longer at Brookstone until you change your policy on this item.

  • Darlene Schueler says:

    Don’t sell the Frog habitats. Almost all the Frogs in them will die. My Daughter ended up with an Africal Frog from a Friend. We took care of it the best We could but it slowly died. They are very delicate and time consuming to take care of. I don’t think the general public has any idea. Thank You Farlene Schueler

  • Stephanie Proctor says:

    UGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Thea Spaanstra says:

    I love animals! Stop imprisoning frogs!!!!!

  • Cecilia Bourjaily says:

    I have been a very faithful customer of Brookstone in Miami, Fl. By torturing the little frogs they just lost me and my daughters (animal lovers) as customers. I cannot wait to see the day when all business that engaged in the exploitation of animals dissapear for good.

  • Susan valverde says:

    This is outragious please lets be a little mote creative than using little animals For our entretaintment please have mercy for those innocent little animals

  • Suzanne H says:

    As a member of an international frog group, I support your efforts. these frogs are tortured and burned by among other things being kept in their own ammonia high excrement. Instructions given are toally inaccurate and lead to the frogs starving and dying.

  • Shanti Services says:

    An excellent article. We consequentially won’t buy at Brookstone. Please spread the word as widely as possible.

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