Yellow and Black Walking Toads (Melanophryniscus stelzneri)
by Chris Dodson
Scientific name: Melanophriniscus stelzneri.
Common English Name: Bumble Bee toad
Range: They come from southern Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and northern Argentina.
Habitat: Hills, plains. Lowlands to highlands. Not tropical. They like to live by, though not in, running water. I have also heard they live on the Pampas, which I think would be a grassier, cooler place than lower Brazil. According to the scientist in Argentina, they live in hills, 500 to 1000 meters above sea level.
I have some carpet like moss in my vivarium and they like to hang out on it. It is also, by the way, where water splashes from a little stream. At night, they crawl under some leaves or in holes in some branches. They seem to have no "home." They may be in a different place every night.
Temperature: Most people posting on the forum have recommended cooler temperatures than you would have for tropical frogs. 65 F to 75 F. However, some have suggested higher -- 70 F to 80 F.
In the words of the Argentinean researcher, "a spring temperature like (COULD BE BETWEEN 15 TO 27 C)" would be fine.
Humidity: Humidity recommendations have also varied. I have read anything from 60% to 80%. For what it is worth, mine seem very happy at 74 F with humidity ranging from 60% to 80%.
Food: They eat small items like fruitflies and flour beetle larvae. They will also eat pinhead crickets, though I have never seen them do it.
Sexing: No one seems to know how to sex them.
Breeding: I have not found anyone who has successfully bred them in captivity. There was a reference to someone on one of the forums, but I have not found that person. All of these frogs are wild caught.
According to the researcher in Argentina: Their reproductive time begins (in South America, Argentina) at mid of october (spring), when the rains are diurnal and very hard, and make temporary streams.
It was not clear from my correspondence whether the researcher in Argentina successfully bred them. It does appear that she got them to stay in amplexus in cascading water with a high oxygen concentration.
Call: They make little noises like a little chicken or bird -- or so I've been told.
Territorial: They seem to like each other and I would not hesitate to get more than one. I have seen no territorial behavior.
Toxicity: They are very poisonous in the wild and may be after imported. Like dart frogs, they lose their toxicity in captivity.
Activity: The best thing of all about these guys are that they are active and diurnal. They are always exploring, always noticeable, and not shy at all. Sometimes even at night they are walking around.
Swim: You will see differing views on whether they can be near water. Some say that being toads, they will drown. However, my vivarium has a pool of water. When I first brought the toads home, the toads purposefully jumped in the water. It was no accident. They swam around a few times and crawled out. They then jumped in again and did the same thing. They never went back in. The funny thing is when I bought another one, he did the same thing! From watching them I know they can swim. Just make sure they have a way out.
Hardy: Yes. Perhaps that is why there are differing views on what conditions to keep them in. Maybe they are just hardy enough to survive in a wide range of conditions. Mine seem very healthy.
Endangered?: Not quite. According to the IUCN, they are a "rare species."
Some more of the author's photos: