Dominica: Mountain Chicken
Chytridiomycosis, a fungal skin condition, is threatening remaining populations of unique amphibian species in the Caribbean. One of the most cherished of these is the large 'Mountain chicken' that holds a special cultural importance in Dominica, but it is now Critically Endangered.
See the fantastic video of the mountain chicken tadpoles feeding on infertile cloacal eggs their mother is releasing for them:
Currently, the mountain chicken is only found in Dominica and Montserrat, and was the traditional national dish of Dominica before the chytrid fungus reached the Caribbean. The name mountain chicken comes from the fact that the frog's meat tastes like chicken. The frog lives mainly in the lowlands and not in the mountains and its importance to the Dominican culture is also reflected by its inclusion in the national Coat of Arms.
Since chytrid arrived, the population of mountain chickens has plunged by 80%, and it is now critically endangered. As part of conservation work in Dominica and Monserrat, ZSL conservationists carried out a rescue expedition. They were able to track down seven of the frogs and remove them from their native habitat before they succumbed to chytrid. The animals are now kept in at ZSL London Zoo.
Conservation Breeding at ZSL London Zoo
Mountain Chickens are one of BIAZA's 'Top ten species dependent on BIAZA zoos' for 2012.
The mountain chicken frogs at the zoo are one of only two groups from Dominica that have been taken into captivity. The other population of 12 frogs is held by a private collector in the United States.
Mountain chicken frogs breed by laying eggs in a foam-filled burrow. The mother stays near the burrow to feed the tadpoles with infertile eggs until they are ready to fend for themselves.
Until now, Mountain chickens have never been bred by ZSL London Zoo, but this year, we had breeding success. Housed in a bio-secure, temperature-controlled breeding unit at the Zoo, a femals laid eggs in her self-made foam nest and guarded them closely as they developed into tadpoles. Demonstrating fantastic mothering skills, she then fed the tadpoles every three to five days with unfertilised eggs.
This success gives hope that the mountain chicken will be able to be sustained in captivity, a breeding captive population maintained until their habitat can be made suitable again and the risk of chytrid has diminshed.
Find out the latest from this vital in-situ conservation project, from chytrid research to community building projects.
Dominica's very special amphibian species need protecting. Find out about the mountain chicken, Gounouj, Tink frog and Johnstone’s whistling frog.
Find out what you can do to help prevent the spread of Chytrid in Dominican amphibians through responsible behaviour and getting in contact.
Since the 1980's, Chytridomycosis has caused dramatic declines in amphibians globally. Dominica's amphibians have been severely affected.
This project’s aim is to build capacity within the Caribbean region to protect against the impacts of chytrid fungus in Dominican amphibians.
Follow ZSL’s amphibian experts as they investigate everything from the African pet trade to frogs and toads in our garden ponds.