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Animal Doctor Articles Weekly on September 12, 2011

Question

I took my son to our local pet store, and he was fascinated by the African dwarf frogs. He wanted me to buy a pair, but I said I would write to you first and get your opinion.

My son is 10 years old and loves animals, and I want to encourage his interest. The store manager told me the frogs were not taken from the wild but were "captive-bred."

D.K.W., Sarasota, FL Sep 12, 2011

Answer

Captive-bred or not, these are not domesticated animals, and they require proper habitat and special care. During the last couple of years, this variety of frog has caused salmonella infections in more than 200 people, most of them under the age of 10, and some 30 percent had to be hospitalized. Fortunately, there were no deaths. Terrapins (water turtles) pose a similar hazard.

While your son might be able to follow strict hygiene measures, I would not run the risk. Encourage him instead to join a local nature club or Audubon Society and learn about the wildlife in your state. Some school districts, in collaboration with municipal zoos, wildlife rescue and rehab centers and conservation organizations, have excellent in-field programs for children and internships for those in high school that can lead to a meaningful career or avocation.

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