Pet frogs support child development

I’ve thought a great deal about whether or not to respond to the letter by Dr. Michael McGuill in the last Gazette (May 29) regarding African dwarf frogs. I don’t want this to be an editorial debate. But I do feel obligated to speak up for my business practices at Boing! and for the people who’ve purchased an Ecoaquarium and might now be feeling a little guilty.

Soon after receiving our first frogs, Dr. McGuill came to Boing! and left me information. I called him as soon as I received it. He conveyed his concern about amphibians and reptiles transmitting salmonella and he directed me to the Centers for Disease Control web site for information. Respecting his informed position, and wanting to make the most informed decisions I can about what we provide here at Boing!, I followed his guidance.

I gathered important information from about children under 5, people with immune deficiencies, and expectant mothers. I added this information, including the CDC web site address, to the package we pro-vide with each Ecoaquarium. Additionally, we verbally communicate these precautions. More than one expectant mother has thanked us.

When we spoke, Dr. McGuill didn’t mention his other concerns, which he conveyed in his letter to the Ga-zette. I respect and honor his viewpoint. I know he feels strongly about this to have written the letter.

Our viewpoint is that the frogs offer similar opportunity to learn nurturing and responsibility as do fish in tanks and birds, rabbits, guinea pigs and gerbils in cages—perhaps most importantly to children with allergies or living in small apartments, making cats or dogs improbable pets.

Since February, some 200 people have purchased Ecoaquariums here at Boing! That’s 400 frogs—accompanied by all the information we provide regarding care and feeding. (Yes, we’re stunned by this popularity.) In that time, we’ve had five people come back because a frog died. Admittedly, there may be more we don’t know about.

We receive frogs 36 at a time—two per Ecoaquarium. They’re shipped from South Carolina in temperature-controlled packs either overnight or two-day shipping. We assemble the Ecoaquariums here. Thus far, two of the total 400 frogs arrived already expired.

We researched Wild Creations, the breeders and distributors of these Ecoaquairums, and met the owner at an exhibition before we placed our first order. We believe their practices are humane. They tell us the life expectancy is 2 to 4 years—we’ve had customers tell us longer. We direct people to for more information.

Our number one objective in everything we do is to support child development. It comes in many forms. We can’t possibly agree with every parent’s viewpoint, but I employ my own background in child development and education to inform my decisions. That being said, if a swell of parents tells me they don’t agree with something, I’ll certainly respond.

We, too, believe in teaching kids to regard all life as sacred. I honestly believe parents have the most valuable job on Earth.

Elaine Hackney
Owner, Boing! JP’s Toy Shop
Jamaica Plain

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