Frog Care & FAQs

We have provided information that we will hope answer your commonly asked questions on frogs. We know this will help build the bond between you and your animal, and we hope it will continue to be a resource for your frog’s happiness and health for years to come. Please click on the category you are interested in learning more about:

Before Getting a Frog

Should You Get a Frog?

By: All About Frogs

So, you want to get a pet frog…

Before you run out to the nearest pet store or pond there are several things you should consider.
Getting a frog shouldn’t be considered all that different from getting a cat or dog. It can be a lot of work, and you need to think about what you’re going to do when you skip town for a week, and so forth.

Also, frogs aren’t like goldfish in that they can live for a very very long time!
You may need a special license to keep frogs in some countries. I hear that in Australia it is actually very difficult to obtain an amphibian license, and people who keep frogs without such a license can get fined heavily for it. You should definitely check to see if there are any special laws pertaining to keeping frogs in your area before you get one as a pet!

Here’s a few things to consider when making choices:

Frogs Can Be a Lot of Work

Frogs need to be fed on a regular basis. Keep in mind where your food source is going to be. Generally speaking, this isn’t going to be as easy as picking up a package at your local grocery store! In addition, if you get a frog that eats live bugs, expect to have a few stray bugs running around the house now and then! The larger frogs can be even more work…Many of the larger species feed on mice and this can be a less than fun experience if you aren’t prepared for it! Frog tanks need to be well cleaned to prevent illness. Also, keep in mind that each pet has special needs for Housing.

Active Frogs

Probably one of the biggest mistakes I hear about is people who go out and buy a “cool-looking” frog which then proceeds to eat, sleep, and generally sit like a lump of clay. The reality is, a lot of frogs don’t really do much, and they aren’t exactly something you can snuggle up with either, so you need to keep that in mind when choosing an appropriate pet. Frogs may be cute or grotesque, but you can’t teach them tricks, take them for walks, or make them speak on command. Frogs which aren’t particularly active will quickly become a boring pet. The novelty will wear off and you’ll be left with a blob that eats a lot. When looking for a pet frog, particularly for the beginner, I strongly urge you to choose ACTIVE breeds. This means, search for a species that doesn’t just sit around all day. Aquatic frogs, certain treefrogs, and the less “fat” frogs are better choices.

Never get a Frog You Don’t Know

There are many many species of frogs, and many have very individualized pet care needs. Some frogs need to hibernate during the winter, others do not. The pet care needs will change everything from what you need as far as tank set-up to what you have to feed them. In addition, many frogs look really really cute in the stores, and then you bring them home and in a few months they’ve grown in monstrous proportions and it isn’t nearly as nice as you thought it was going to be.

Frog Sitters

Your frog, if well cared for, should live for a very long time! That means you’re going to run into the same problem everyone with pets runs into whenever they go out of town for vacations…”Who’s gonna care for my pet while I’m away??”
Unlike feeding a few flakes to a goldfish, the idea of live bugs isn’t very appealing to most people who haven’t been as enlightened about frogs as you have! In some cases, you can convince a “frog sitter” to care for your frogs if they don’t actually have to touch the bugs. So, if you plan on getting a frog, plan ahead as to how vacations will be handled.

What Kind of Frog Should a Beginner Get or Not Get?

By: All About Frogs

Frogs Recommended for the Beginner

For the first frog encounter, I strongly recommend the African Dwarf Frog. These guys are small, active, cute, and about as difficult to maintain as a tank of goldfish. You also don’t have to deal with live bugs and they can be kept in the same conditions as goldfish for extended periods of time…(as long as there is a cover!) Dwarf frogs are very easy to take care of once they’ve become used to their new home. As with all fish, expect the first couple of weeks for adaptation time (many times pet stores will sell frogs that are already sick, or that are very very small and which may be a bit fragile in the first couple of weeks.) The best recommendation here is to get them at a decent size. Avoid really skinny ones or ones that are as small as your pinky-nail. In addition, if the frog doesn’t give the pet shop owner a really hard time when the net goes into the tank, it may indicate some initial signs of being in less than perfect condition. Don’t confuse these with African Clawed frogs, which look very similar when small. The clawed frogs get quite large and actually are illegal in some states (Like in Oregon and California!)

For a beginning frog owner who wants to get the full terrestrial frog experience, Oriental Firebellied Toads are an excellent choice. These guys are fairly simple to care for, in so far as they can survive fairly well off crickets with vitamin supplements, and they are incredibly active critters. They also don’t get too large. Finally, there are no hibernation requirements for this species and they do well in temperatures that people generally are happy to have in their homes. Unless you live in an icebox or in extremely hot climates, this species of frog won’t need special climatization for it’s terrarium. You’ll need to find someone who can handle crickets when you go away on vacation for a week or more to take care of them though, but keep in mind crickets are much easier than frozen mice!

A good Tree Frog for beginners is the White’s Tree Frog. This frog has a funny personality and seems to be quite a popular pick. It should be warned however, that some children bore of the whites tree frog despite its funny personality, simply because they tend to just sit around a lot. Much of the behavior of the frogs however, can be traced to how much they eat (and how fat they get!). In addition, the Whites Tree frog is one of the few frogs that is fit to occasionally be handled, and it certainly has warmed the heart of many frog enthusiasts!
In addition to dealing with crickets, the Whites tree frogs need a little more care than the Firebellies need, simply because they live best with humidity and are happiest when the tank is sprayed with water once or twice every day. However, as far as Tree-Frogs go, they are by far one of the easiest to deal with and hardiest species available to be kept as pets!

Frogs NOT Recommended for the Beginner

Poison Frogs are absolutely NOT a beginners frog. Even though these frogs lose their toxicity in captivity, their care is very complicated and these fragile beings have very specific requirements for healthy captivity.

Expensive frogs in general should not be a frog considered by the beginner because a frog that costs over 50 bucks is a high investment to make when you are still learning about frog care. Even if you’ve read all there is to read about frog care, you really ought to start with an easier breed before taking on the more expensive breeds like Red-Eyed TreeFrogs and such.

Frogs captured in the wild should be a frog that you KNOW, otherwise you take the risk of not knowing the proper temperatures, diet, etc. It is often asked about frogs that naturally appeared in an outdoor pond where weather patterns lead to pond ice-overs. It’s not a good idea to “save” frogs from an environment where they naturally occurred in the first place. It is suspected that the types of frogs that appear in such climates probably hibernate in the colder months.

Frogs that get FAT, like Horned (Pacman) frogs, Budgettes Toads, and Bullfrogs can get to be pretty boring as pets for the beginner. The Budgettes toad can also pack a good wallop of a bite when it’s full grown, so watch those fingers! This doesn’t mean you absolutely should not get some of these for pets, (Pac Man Frogs, for example, while somewhat “boring” to some, are also very hearty and not as prone to the usual frailties of other types of frogs) but I’d really think carefully about how long you’re going to retain interest in this type of frog before you’ve made any sort of commitment by going out and getting such a pet….

Bringing Your Frog Home

Half and Half Tank

This tends to be the most common set-up needed, which is half water and half land-mass aquarium set-up. This can be achieved in several ways, the easiest of which is to fill a tank with water and put in large land-masses such as giant rocks. Special separators can be made or bought to divide water and land masses within a tank as well.

One visitor writes:
“I found that my frogs really needed a half & half tank, so I went to the local pet store to buy a divider. The only one that they carried was $75.00. I have limited resources so I made one myself. Heres how: I measured the width of my aquarium and went to a hardware store to have a piece of glass cut, that width and about 4 1/2 inches high. I secured it to my aquarium with aquarium sealant. I was worried that my frogs would cut their bellies as they climbed out of the water so I took a piece of airline tubing, the length of the glass piece, and split it along the side and glued it to the top of the glass with the sealant. I hope that it sounds as easy as it was, it only took a few minutes. Best of all it cost under $4.00, which leaves more money for crickets and stuff!”

Tank Size

The size of tank you will need largely depends on the type of frog you will be housing in it. Smaller anurans do well in smaller sized tanks, but as the number of specimens increases, so does the tank size requirement.
For example, small treefrogs can do well in as little as 20 x 20 x 30 inch (50x50x75 cm) tank. As a general rule however, most species do really well in a 20 gallon tank.

Filtration and Cleaning

Keeping the water clean:
Cleaning an aquarium tanks is basically the same for frogs as it is for most freshwater fish, except it tends to be required more stringently because frogs shed more often. The biggest problem with the half and half set-up is figuring out how to get a filter that works without a full tank. There are undergravel filters which work ok, as well as those over-the-side filters that are fine except for the fact that if you have a tank that has a huge drop between the top of the tank and the water, the noise of splashing can get pretty irritating. I’ve found the best answer to this dillemna was a pump that can be suction-cupped to the floor of the water half called The Shark Internal Filter. It fits to the floor and does a pretty good job of filtering the water (and quietly too!), and your main concern is making sure that the place where the electric chord (which is well waterproofed and won’t electrocute your anuran) doesn’t leave a gap so your frog can get out. Later, I got a really cool set-up for my Firebellied Toads which was a waterfall/river/pond set-up. This basically consisted of a 20 gallon tank with the “Water’s Edge Viquarium Kit”. It came factory ready, and all I had to do was put the pieces together. There are several of these on the market and most provide a sort of through-the-gravel filter, which pumps water through the “landmass” to the waterfall or river mouth and then spouts it back. You dont actually see the filter at all, and the only thing you hear is running water (except when the water level gets a bit low and it starts to sputter air bubbles.) This set-up is really cool looking, not to mention a great filter device and I recommend it to anyone who wants to invest a little cash into setting up their frog-tank to look really nice. Ask your pet dealer for advice on filters.

Cleaning your tank also falls under the same categories as proper care of fish. Special gravel vacuum cleaners can be bought as well, though they basically consist of a “nice” plastic tube which can be easily made at home. In the best case scenario, you’ll be filling the tank with stale water when you clean it. By this I mean, water that has been sitting out for at least 24 hours, AND has been dechlorinated. (You can buy chlorine treatment drops at your local pet store.) That way you are less likely to poison the frogs during regular maintenance.

Cleaning the tank:

There are several things you need to keep in mind here. The main thing is that despite the fact that this can be an annoyance, it’s not something to procrastinate on. A dirty environment is almost always the cause of illness in frogs, and once your frog gets sick it can be very difficult to save it. Regular tank maintenance includes a scrub-down of all the items in the tank (excluding the frogs) with warm water. Yes, that means the palstic plants too…frogs leave residue on everything, including the glass walls, which for some species can be toxic when it builds up. Make sure the glass gets cleaned regularly as well. The other thing to look out for is mold, particularly in moss etc, and dead bugs. Moss is really really cool for frogs because it’s soft, retains moisture, and is pleasant to hang out in, (well, if you’re a frog anyways) but it needs to be cleaned regularly! You can clean it with water (preferably stale water) Though it may be worth the extra buck fifty or whatever the package costs to simply replace the stuff every now and then.

Humidity

Many people make the mistake of thinking that if a frog feels dry they’ll hop over to the water supply and take a dip. Much as I love the critters, you can’t give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to this type of intelligence. Some species are very dependant on a humid environment. This can be achieved in several ways. First of all, get a spray bottle!! Keep stale water in it and spray down the tank regularly. Spray everything! Live plants are especially good and retaining the water for some time, though if you have plastic ones it certainly doesn’t hurt to spray those too.
(Note: this is not always necessary for certain types of toads which prefer dryer climates) The other thing to do is to put down moss and keep it wet, wet the soil, or if you dont have soil, you can obtain a moisture retaining product called vermiculite at most garden stores which works really well too. A secure tank top that keeps the tank from drying up, while still allowing for ample ventilation is a really good idea. Some tank set-ups get a nice green-house like quality which is ideal for certain species of frogs. If you have a set-up like I do, which has running water in it, you usually don’t have to spray the tank down as much because the running water splashes a bit and creates the same effect. This is, of course, dependant on what species we are talking about. If your frogs require a very humid climate, you may want to try getting an airstone to put in the water. The rising oxygen bubbles will be pretty good in driving up the humidity levels. Ask your pet dealer for more info.

Tank Top

The main issue with finding an appropriate covering for your tank is 2-fold. On the one hand, preventing the escape of a beloved frog pal is the ideal, and on the other, good ventilation is necessary for the health of your pet. First of all, soft screening is really good! I strongly recommend it for 2 reasons. One, the soft kind (i.e. not the kind that doen’t bend a little bit when you push on it) will prevent a lot of overactive frogs from getting injuries when hopping up against the ceiling. The other reason, of course is that the screen provides great ventilation. There are a number of screen cage lids that are available in your local pet stores that are perfect for frogs. Make sure the lid is on very secure…not to make the frogs sound like Superman, but you’d be amazed at the amount of letters I get about frogs hopping up so often that they actually opened it and got out! For frogs that require a sort of greenhouse humidity, be sure to leave some opening in the cover that is screened for ventilation.

Lighting

This is still a subject of a lot of debate. Generally speaking, most experts say that unlike lizards, turtles, and snakes, and other herps, frogs don’t need whats called “full spectrum lighting” to be healthy. Full spectrum lighting aids some animals in producing Vitamin D3. Frogs get this vitamin through their diet, so only ordinary light is required. Not that this type of light, which can be provided by using special types of light bulbs available in most pet stores, will do any harm as long as it’s limited to a maximum of about 4 to 5 hours a day. Generally speaking, though, the best rules of thumb are:

Don’t use a light that’s too bright or you could damage the frogs’ vision. Even if it’s not bright enough to damage their vision, a light that is too bright for their comfort will mean frogs that hide all the time, which fairly boring for the keeper. The most suitable type of artificial lighting for most frogs is fluorescent. For one thing, they tend not to produce too much heat. A lot of frogs will end up jumping on to the light bulb, which can be very damaging if the bulb is really hot. If the type of lighting you choose tends to get very warm, make sure to find a way to keep the frogs from landing on the bulb. Some frogs use daylight to know what time of year it is etc…just as they would in nature. A good daylight period is around 12 hours. Of course, it’s even better if the tank gets some sort of daylight in the room.
You probably don’t want to have direct sunlight on the tank though, especially since it means algae is going to go rampant on your aquarium walls, and make cleaning the tank a real pain. (not to mention the fact that it will need the cleaning much more often)

Heating

If you have a frog that requires a temperature different from the climate you live in, you will need to look into options for heating your tank. If you have a fairly substantial water area in your tank, you may need to control the water temperature as well.

Heating the Air:

The best option is simply to warm the room to the appropriate temperatures. In this case, you may want to leave the water slightly cooler, so that they have a place to escape the heat. If this isn’t an option, you have a few other possibilities.
One is to get a Heating Lamp. These seem to work ok, as long as the lamp isn’t inside the tank. If you place the bulb in the tank, you will need to customize it to make sure your critters don’t fry themselves on it when they jump on it (as they seem to inevitably do in these cases.) You’ll probably want to keep a regular timing schedule with the heat lamp to maintain the usual fluctuations that would normally occur. Another option is to get a Heating Pad. This basically is a pad that you put under or around some part of the outside of the tank which warms it. You don’t want it to cover the entire underside of the tank as the frogs need to be able to escape the heat if they want to. NEVER put the heating pad, or any other heating device inside the tank. Amphibians will burn themselves very easily on them.

Heating the Water:

There are a variety of heating devices for fishtanks available in pet stores. The most common is the simple thermostat-controlled glass tube heater that fits onto the side of the tank. You can set a temperature for them and everything is nice and automatic. They even have tiny ones that fit into my mini-plastic tank for the Dwarf frogs! The main problem here is that these tend to require a high water level to function properly, which doesn’t leave you with a lot of roon for the land setup. The other option is the fully submersible heater, which although more pricey is worth the dependable temperature control it offers, and is nice and waterproofed with well coated cords so you don’t run the risk of electrocuting your froggies. Just be sure that there aren’t any huge gaping holes in the top of the tank through which your pet can escape. Oh, and one other thing…most heating systems heat the tank to “4 degrees higher than the temperature it started out on” … and then you have to adjust it over the next couple of hours (which may be many hours, if your dealing with a larger tank size) so it’s very, very recommended that the frogs are not put into the tank until you have the heater figured out (generally speaking, put the heater in 2 days before you get the frogs) because there sometime is a good deal of fiddling with the temperature that goes on before it gets to be “just right.”
You will need to seek advice from your local pet dealer for more info on heating issues.

Substrates

The easiest option is to use gravel. It’s easy to clean and comes in lots of different colors and sizes, and it’s re-usable. Make sure to clean the gravel really well before lining your tank! Frogs have been known to accidentally swallow the occasional gravel stone, but this is harmless and generally the stones just pass right on through. You gotta figure if everything frogs eat crawls on the ground then they’re bound to get some ground every now and again anyways! However, if you’re worried, I hear Pine bark is a good choice (surprisingly, Ive heard that the best kind is actually NOT the kind you find at the pet store but the generic kind you find in plant stores The kind in the Pet Stores tend to be dusty and the chips are really small.) Cedar or pine shavings, by the way, will have the same potential problems as gravel or sand….so avoid these if swallowing the little stuff is a concern.

You can also find nice stones to line your tank. The main requirement is that the stones aren’t sharp, leaving areas where frogs can scrape against them and wound themselves. I use glass marbles to line the tank of my african dwarf frogs! I wouldn’t recommend this for any land portion of your tank, however. Sand also works well and makes a nice soft setting. This is especially good if the animal requires a slightly dryer environment, like many toads. It’s cheap, and you can always compliment it with a few rocks. Common potting soil is a pretty good option as well. It’s disposable, easy to find, easy to keep moist, and isn’t expensive. The coolest thing about it is that you can plant real live plants in it and it will be really close to natural surroundings for your pet. You gotta be careful setting up the water portion if you’re using the soil option so you don’t end up with a lot of mud though.

Decor

Moss makes an excellent compliment for the land portions of your terrarium. My firebellies have a gravel substrate in their tank, but I cover the gravel with dried moss that can be bought in most pet-stores and which was wetted in clean stale water. I just have to make sure that the moss stays a little moist and check that there isn’t any mold growing on it, but the frogs absolutely LOVE it!
Plastic plants and decorations can be obtained from most pet stores. Particularly cool are plants with suction-cups for sticking to the glass. Re-arranging the decorations when you clean seems to make the frogs happy…(I guess even frogs get bored) Hollow rocks or logs that give your frog pal a place to hide are very recommended. I have a giant hollow squid in my Firebellied Toads’ tank and they hide there all the time! If you’re really energetic, you can plant some live plants and make your terrarium totally awesome! Go to your local plant store and start looking for nice plants that will do well in your tank! It’s a bit more work, but it can have really impressive results. (I have never read in any of the guides which plants are good and which are not, but I imaging the list is quite huge. Your best bet is to use common sense, i.e. dont try planting prickly cactus, and it will probably be just fine.)
For those tree frogs, don’t forget a thick tree branch for climbing. (As for those fancy branches at the pet store, cut one out of your own yard. Scrub the branch with antibacterial soap, then freeze it for forty-eight hours. Freezing the branch is imperative. This will ensure that all harmful bacteria and parasites are killed. )
A colorful background is also enjoyed by frogs. I have a tropical background with lots of greens, blues, browns, and some red in it. You can make your own or buy one. Contact paper and construction paper both work well. Just make sure the background has an even mix of greens, blues, and browns. If you have too much of one color, your frog can actually be affected in a negative way.

Terrestrial Tank

By: All About Frogs

This type of tank best suits the dryer climate preferring toads and frogs. It basically consists of a large tank with substrate and a water supply, usually in the form of a bowl of water or some sort of small pool. Pet stores often house frogs that will not be happy in the long run in such an environment. (Particularly species like Oriental Firebellied Toads!) It is important that you do not depend on the setup used in the pet store as a guideline for setting up your tank at home. Your best bet is to look up your frog and see what sort of environment it comes from.

Tank Size

The size of tank you will need largely depends on the type of frog you will be housing in it. Smaller anurans do well in smaller sized tanks, but as the number of specimens increases, so does the tank size requirement.

For example, small treefrogs can do well in as little as 20 x 20 x 30 inch (50x50x75 cm) tank.
As a general rule however, most species do really well in a 20 gallon tank.

Lighting 

This is still a subject of a lot of debate. Generally speaking, most experts say that unlike lizards, turtles, and snakes, and other herps, frogs don’t need what’s called “full spectrum lighting” to be healthy. Full spectrum lighting aids some animals in producing Vitamin D3. Frogs get this vitamin through their diet, so only ordinary light is required. Not that this type of light, which can be provided by using special types of light bulbs available in most pet stores, will do any harm as long as it’s limited to a maximum of about 4 to 5 hours a day.

Generally speaking, though, the best rules of thumb are:

Don’t use a light that’s too bright or you could damage the frogs’ vision. Even if it’s not bright enough to damage their vision, a light that is too bright for their comfort will mean frogs that hide all the time, which fairly boring for the keeper.

The most suitable type of artificial lighting for most frogs is fluorescent. For one thing, they tend not to produce too much heat. A lot of frogs will end up jumping on to the light bulb, which can be very damaging if the bulb is really hot. If the type of lighting you choose tends to get very warm, make sure to find a way to keep the frogs from landing on the bulb. Some frogs use daylight to know what time of year it is etc…just as they would in nature. A good daylight period is around 12 hours. Of course, it’s even better if the tank gets some sort of daylight in the room.

You probably don’t want to have direct sunlight on the tank though, especially since it means algae is going to go rampant on your aquarium walls, and make cleaning the tank a real pain. (not to mention the fact that it will need the cleaning much more often.)

Substrates

The easiest option is to use gravel. It’s easy to clean and comes in lots of different colors and sizes, and it’s re-usable. Make sure to clean the gravel really well before lining your tank! Frogs have been known to accidentally swallow the occasional gravel stone, but this is harmless and generally the stones just pass right on through. You gotta figure if everything frogs eat crawls on the ground then they’re bound to get some ground every now and again anyways!
You can also find nice stones to line your tank. The main requirement is that the stones aren’t sharp, leaving areas where frogs can scrape against them and wound themselves. Sand also works well and makes a nice soft setting. This is especially good if the animal requires a slightly dryer environment, like many toads. It’s cheap, and you can always compliment it with a few rocks.

Common potting soil is a pretty good option as well. It’s disposable, easy to find, easy to keep moist, and isn’t expensive. The coolest thing about it is that you can plant real live plants in it and it will be really close to natural surroundings for your pet.

Humidity

Many people make the mistake of thinking that if a frog feels dry they’ll hop over to the water supply and take a dip. Much as we love the critters, you can’t give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to this type of intelligence. Some species are very dependant on a humid environment. This can be achieved in several ways. First of all, get a spray bottle!! Keep stale water in it and spray down the tank regularly. Spray everything! Live plants are especially good and retaining the water for some time, though if you have plastic ones it certainly doesn’t hurt to spray those too.
(Note: this is not always necessary for certain types of toads which prefer dryer climates.) The other thing to do is to put down moss down moss and keep it wet, wet the soil, or if you don’t have soil, you can obtain a moisture retaining product called vermiculite at most garden stores which works really well too.
A secure tank top that keeps the tank from drying up, while still allowing for ample ventilation is a really good idea. Some tank set-ups get a nice green-house like quality which is ideal for certain species of frogs. This, however, is pretty unlikely to happen in a terrestrial tank, so if your frog requires a lot of humidity you should look into either the Half-and-half tank setup or Arboreal set-up.

Decor

Moss makes an excellent compliment for the land portionsof your terrarium. Plastic plants and decorations can be obtained from most pet stores. Particularly cool are plants with suction-cups for sticking to the glass. Re-arranging the decorations when you clean seems to make the frogs happy…(I guess even frogs get bored.) Hollow rocks or logs that give your frog pal a place to hide are very recommended. If you’re really energetic, you can plant some live plants and make your terrarium totally awesome! Go to your local plant store and start looking for nice plants that will do well in your tank! It’s a bit more work, but it can have really impressive results.

Tank Top

The main issue with finding an appropriate covering for your tank is 2-fold. On the one hand, preventing the escape of a beloved frog pal is the ideal, and on the other, good ventilation is necessary for the health of your pet.
First of all, soft screening is really good! I strongly recommend it for 2 reasons. One, the soft kind (i.e. not the kind that doesn’t bend a little bit when you push on it) will prevent a lot of overactive frogs from getting injuries when hopping up against the ceiling. The other reason, of course is that the screen provides great ventilation. There are a number of screen cage lids that are available in your local pet stores that are perfect for frogs. Make sure the lid is on very secure…not to make the frogs sound like Superman, but you’d be amazed at the amount of letters I get about frogs hopping up so often that they actually opened it and got out!

Heating 

The best option for temperature control is simply to warm the room to the appropriate temperatures. If this isn’t an option, you have a few other possibilities.
One is to get a Heating Lamp. These seem to work ok, as long as the lamp isn’t inside the tank. If you place the bulb in the tank, you will need to customize it to make sure your critters don’t fry themselves on it when they jump on it (as they seem to inevitably do in these cases.) You’ll probably want to keep a regular timing schedule with the heat lamp to maintain the usual fluctuations that would normally occur. Another option is to get a Heating Pad. This basically is a pad that you put under or around some part of the outside of the tank which warms it. You don’t want it to cover the entire underside of the tank as the frogs need to be able to escape the heat if they want to.

Cleaning

There are several things you need to keep in mind here. The main thing is that despite the fact that this can be an annoyance, it’s not something to procrastinate on. A dirty environment is almost always the cause of illness in frogs, and once your frog gets sick it can be very difficult to save it. Regular tank maintenance includes a scrub-down of all the items in the tank (excluding the frogs) with warm water. Yes, that means the plastic plants too…frogs leave residue on everything, including the glass walls, which for some species can be toxic when it builds up. Make sure the glass gets cleaned regularly as well. The other thing to look out for is mold, particularly in moss etc, and dead bugs. Moss is really really cool for frogs because it’s soft, retains moisture, and is pleasant to hang out in, (well, if you’re a frog anyways) but it needs to be cleaned regularly! You can clean it with water (preferably stale water) Though it may be worth the extra buck fifty or whatever the package costs to simply replace the stuff every now and then. Of course, it goes without saying that the water should absolutely be clean!!! Your best bet is if you make sure to use stale water, which is water that has been sitting out for at least 24 hours, AND has been dechlorinated. (You can buy chlorine treatment drops at your local pet store.)

Taking Care of Your Frog

Aquatic Tank

By: All About Frogs

This tank is essentially the same setup you would have for fish, an aquarium with water in it. Pretty much the same considerations you would make for fish apply here, although frogs tend to shed skin and therefore require either a more frequent cleaning or a Houdini-like escape artist frogs, even in aquatic tanks!

Tank Size

The classic dilemma, this part always depends on how many frogs you are housing and what kind. More than that and we would suggest moving to the standard 10 gallon tank. African Clawed frogs tend to get quite a bit larger than some would expect and require a larger tank than their cousin Dwarf frogs. For the Clawed frogs, we would suggest a 20 gallon sized tank setting (at least once they reach full size). Naturally, if you have more than a couple, you’ll need to adjust the space required. Of course, if you add fish into the equation, you enter a whole new territory of variables. Best consult your local pet store on overcrowding. (Note: pet stores almost always overcrowd the tanks in house, but since these are not meant as long term living quarters they are not meant to be taken as guidelines to how many animals will fit comfortably in a tank!)

Filtration and Cleaning

Cleaning an aquarium tanks is basically the same for frogs as it is for most freshwater fish, except it tends to be required more stringently because frogs shed more often. There are numerous filter devices available on the market. Ask your pet dealer for advice on these. Special gravel vacuum cleaners can be bought as well, though they basically consist of a “nice” plastic tube which can be easily made at home. In the best case scenario, you’ll be filling the tank with stale water when you clean it. By this I mean, water that has been sitting out for at least 24 hours, AND has been dechlorinated. (You can buy chlorine treatment drops at your local pet store.) That way you are less likely to poison the frogs during regular maintenance.

Lighting

This is still a subject of a lot of debate. Generally speaking, most experts say that unlike lizards, turtles, and snakes, and other herps, frogs don’t need whats called “full spectrum lighting” to be healthy. Full spectrum lighting aids some animals in producing Vitamin D3. Frogs get this vitamin through their diet, so only ordinary light is required. Not that this type of light, which can be provided by using special types of light bulbs available in most pet stores, will do any harm as long as it’s limited to a maximum of about 4 to 5 hours a day. Generally speaking, though, the best rules of thumb are:

Don’t use a light that’s too bright or you could damage the frogs’ vision. Even if it’s not bright enough to damage their vision, a light that is too bright for their comfort will mean frogs that hide all the time, which fairly boring for the keeper.
The most suitable type of artificial lighting for most frogs is fluorescent. For one thing, they tend not to produce too much heat. Some frogs use daylight to know what time of year it is etc…just as they would in nature. A good daylight period is around 12 hours. Of course, it’s even better if the tank gets some sort of daylight in the room. You probably don’t want to have direct sunlight on the tank though, especially since it means algae is going to go rampant on your aquarium walls, and make cleaning the tank a real pain. (not to mention the fact that it will need the cleaning much more often…)

Heating

If your frog requires heating then you’re in luck…the aquarium set-up is the easiest for heating maintenance. There are a variety of heating devices for fishtanks available in pet stores. The most common is the simple thermostat-controlled glass tube heater that fits onto the side of the tank. You can set a temperature for them and everything is nice and automatic. They even have tiny ones that fit into my mini-plastic tank for the Dwarf frogs! The main consideration here, again, is making sure there aren’t any huge gaping holes in the top of the tank through which your pet can escape. Oh, and one other thing…most heating systems heat the tank to “4 degrees higher than the temperature it started out on” … and then you have to adjust it over the next couple of hours (which may be many hours, if your dealing with a larger tank size) so it’s very, very recommended that the frogs are not put into the tank until you have the heater figured out (generally speaking, put the heater in 2 days before you get the frogs) because there sometime is a good deal of fiddling with the temperature that goes on before it gets to be “just right.”

Tank Top

When you buy a tank for your pet frog, particularly if we are talking about the African Clawed Frog, be sure to buy a proper lid for it!!!! I cannot stress this enough, because it is just way too sad to hear the stories of finding a beloved specimen dried up and flattened behind the radiator 3 years after it mysteriously disappeared from it’s tank! I haven’t experienced this problem with my Dwarf frogs, but I’m not taking any chances. I’ve covered the holes in the lid with duct-tape to make sure they don’t get out. If you have Clawed frogs, then you most likely have a tank with a filter system that puts large gaping holes in the back of your lid. You may want to enquire at the pet store what sorts of recommendations they can make for covering the large areas of exposure to prevent the escape of pets.

Substrates

This is the part you need to do the least amount of worrying about, simply because the choices aren’t incredibly diverse. Generally, any aquarium gravel will do well in this case. Make sure to clean the gravel as you would with any aquarium fish before lining your tank! Frogs have been known to accidentally swallow the occasional gravel stone, but this is harmless and generally the stones just pass right on through. You can also find nice stones to line your tank. The main requirement is that the stones aren’t sharp, leaving areas where frogs can scrape against them and wound themselves. I use glass marbles to line the tank of my african dwarf frogs! Sand also works well in the aquarium.

Decor

There are all kinds of aquarium decorations available in pet stores for your tank. Plastic plants are really good, and a place for the animals to hide is nice too. If you’re willing to take the extra energy required, there are fresh-water aquatic plants that frogs seem to really dig a lot too! Ask about it at your local pet store. The real plants really add a nice natural touch to the tank environment and they are adored by the frogs as well, but keep in mind that it tends to require a lot more attention to cleaning and filtration.

Co-habitants

If you have aquatic frogs you may have considered housing some sort of fish in the same tank with your frogs. Of course, you need to keep in mind what sorts of fish might be considered “lunch” by your frog, and vice versa of course!
African Clawed frogs definitely won’t live well with any sort of fish that is small. The reason, of course, is that African Clawed frogs will eat ANYTHING that they can fit into their mouths. Don’t forget that they may look small when you buy them, but they grow and this needs to be taken into account when choosing fish-pals. See the African Clawed Frog Care Sheet for more info. Dwarf Frogs, on the other hand, are more or less harmless to many types of fish. I’ve seen the occasional battle, but the frogs don’t have very strong gripping mouths nor do they have any teeth, so they are generally an annoyance to some fish more than a threat. Keep in mind however, that adding fish means a more dirty environment with more likelihood of pH level problems so you need to be very sensitive to overcrowding and a good filtration method becomes a mandatory piece of equipment. This is particularly true with fish that eat different types of food than the frogs, as it tends to leave more debris. Also, if any of your fish get sick, it’s really important to isolate them from the rest of the co-habitants or you risk infecting the whole crew! The types of fish I’ve had living with African Dwarf frogs have been: neon tetras, 1 beta fish (Chinese fighting fish) which has been known to try to fight with the frogs on occasion (and lose pathetically, with a frenzied beta swimming around the tank and 1 determined froggy attached by the mouth to its’ long beautiful tail.) Bala Sharks, Coolie Loaches, Clown Loaches, and Goldfish. You’ll have to find out yourself what other types of freshwater fish do well with frogs: You can try looking up fish info at Fish Information Service (FINS) or try your local pet store.

Arboreal Tank

By: All About Frogs

Tree frogs spend most of their time up high in tree branches in their natural habitats, and therefore are much better off in taller tanks which better suit their instincts. Personally, the best set-ups I have seen have been using the tall square or hexagon shaped tanks with branches for climbing.

Tank Size

The size of tank you will need largely depends on the type of frog you will be housing in it. Smaller anurans do well in smaller sized tanks, but as the number of specimens increases, so does the tank size requirement.For example, small treefrogs can do well in as little as 20 x 20 x 30 inch (50x50x75 cm) tank.

As a general rule however, most species do really well in a 20 gallon tank. If you can’t afford an arboreal tank, you might try a “combination tank”. Combination tanks are normally 25 gallon aquariums, which measures 18 inches long, 24 inches high, and 13 inches deep. ***Scout your local paper for good deals on used tanks and lids.

Humidity

Many people make the mistake of thinking that if a frog feels dry they’ll hop over to the water supply and take a dip. Much as I love the critters, you can’t give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to this type of intelligence. Some species are very dependent on a humid environment. This can be achieved in several ways. First of all, get a spray bottle!! Keep stale water in it and spray down the tank regularly. Spray everything! Live plants are especially good and retaining the water for some time, though if you have plastic ones it certainly doesn’t hurt to spray those too. (Note: this is not always necessary for certain types of toads which prefer dryer climates). The other thing to do is to put down moss down moss and keep it wet, wet the soil, or if you don’t have soil, you can obtain a moisture retaining product called vermiculite at most garden stores which works really well too.

A secure tank top that keeps the tank from drying up, while still allowing for ample ventilation is a really good idea. Some tank set-ups get a nice green-house like quality which is ideal for certain species of frogs.

If you have a set-up like I do, which has running water in it, you usually don’t have to spray the tank down as much because the running water splashes a bit and creates the same effect. This is, of course, dependant on what species we are talking about. If your frogs require a very humid climate, you may want to try getting an airstone to put in the water. The rising oxygen bubbles will be pretty good in driving up the humidity levels. Ask your pet dealer for more info.

Tank Top

The main issue with finding an appropriate covering for your tank is 2-fold. On the one hand, preventing the escape of a beloved frog pal is the ideal, and on the other, good ventilation is necessary for the health of your pet.

First of all, soft screening is really good! I strongly recommend it for 2 reasons. One, the soft kind (i.e. not the kind that doesn’t bend a little bit when you push on it) will prevent a lot of overactive frogs from getting injuries when hopping up against the ceiling. The other reason, of course is that the screen provides great ventilation. There are a number of screen cage lids that are available in your local pet stores that are perfect for frogs. Make sure the lid is on very secure…not to make the frogs sound like Superman, but you’d be amazed at the amount of letters I get about frogs hopping up so often that they actually opened it and got out!
For frogs that require a sort of greenhouse humidity, be sure to leave some opening in the cover that is screened for ventilation.

Lighting

This is still a subject of a lot of debate. Generally speaking, most experts say that unlike lizards, turtles, and snakes, and other herps, frogs don’t need what’s called “full spectrum lighting” to be healthy. Full spectrum lighting aids some animals in producing Vitamin D3. Frogs get this vitamin through their diet, so only ordinary light is required. Not that this type of light, which can be provided by using special types of light bulbs available in most pet stores, will do any harm as long as it’s limited to a maximum of about 4 to 5 hours a day. Generally speaking, though, the best rules of thumb are:

  • Don’t use a light that’s too bright or you could damage the frogs’ vision. Even if it’s not bright enough to damage their vision, a light that is too bright for their comfort will mean frogs that hide all the time, which fairly boring for the keeper.
  • The most suitable type of artificial lighting for most frogs is fluorescent. For one thing, they tend not to produce too much heat. A lot of frogs will end up jumping on to the light bulb, which can be very damaging if the bulb is really hot. If the type of lighting you choose tends to get very warm, make sure to find a way to keep the frogs from landing on the bulb.
  • Some frogs use daylight to know what time of year it is etc…just as they would in nature. A good daylight period is around 12 hours. Of course, it’s even better if the tank gets some sort of daylight in the room. You probably don’t want to have direct sunlight on the tank though, especially since it means algae is going to go rampant on your aquarium walls, and make cleaning the tank a real pain. (not to mention the fact that it will need the cleaning much more often)

Heating

If you have a frog that requires a temperature different from the climate you live in, you will need to look into options for heating your tank. If you have a fairly substantial water area in your tank, you may need to control the water temperature as well.

Heating the Air:

The best option is simply to warm the room to the appropriate temperatures. In this case, you may want to leave the water slightly cooler, so that they have a place to escape the heat. If this isn’t an option, you have a few other possibilities.

One is to get a Heating Lamp. These seem to work ok, as long as the lamp isn’t inside the tank. If you place the bulb in the tank, you will need to customize it to make sure your critters don’t fry themselves on it when they jump on it (as they seem to inevitably do in these cases.) You’ll probably want to keep a regular timing schedule with the heat lamp to maintain the usual fluctuations that would normally occur. Another option is to get a Heating Pad. This basically is a pad that you put under or around some part of the outside of the tank which warms it. You don’t want it to cover the entire underside of the tank as the frogs need to be able to escape the heat if they want to. NEVER put the heating pad, or any other heating device inside the tank. Amphibians will burn themselves very easily on them.

Heating the Water:

There are a variety of heating devices for fishtanks available in pet stores. The most common is the simple thermostat-controlled glass tube heater that fits onto the side of the tank. You can set a temperature for them and everything is nice and automatic. They even have tiny ones that fit into my mini-plastic tank for the Dwarf frogs! The main problem here is that these tend to require a high water level to function properly, which doesn’t leave you with a lot of room for the land setup. The other option is the fully submersible heater, which although more pricey is worth the dependable temperature control it offers, and is nice and waterproofed with well coated cords so you don’t run the risk of electrocuting your froggies. Just be sure that there aren’t any huge gaping holes in the top of the tank through which your pet can escape.

Oh, and one other thing…most heating systems heat the tank to “4 degrees higher than the temperature it started out on” … and then you have to adjust it over the next couple of hours (which may be many hours, if your dealing with a larger tank size) so it’s very, very recommended that the frogs are not put into the tank until you have the heater figured out (generally speaking, put the heater in 2 days before you get the frogs) because there sometime is a good deal of fiddling with the temperature that goes on before it gets to be “just right.” You will need to seek advice from your local pet dealer for more info on heating issues.

Substrates

The easiest option is to use gravel. It’s easy to clean and comes in lots of different colors and sizes, and it’s re-usable. Make sure to clean the gravel really well before lining your tank! Frogs have been known to accidentally swallow the occasional gravel stone, but this is harmless and generally the stones just pass right on through. You gotta figure if everything frogs eat crawls on the ground then they’re bound to get some ground every now and again anyways! However, if you’re worried, I hear Pine bark is a good choice (surprisingly, I’ve heard that the best kind is actually NOT the kind you find at the pet store but the generic kind you find in plant stores The kind in the Pet Stores tend to be dusty and the chips are really small.) Cedar or pine shavings, by the way, will have the same potential problems as gravel or sand….so avoid these if swallowing the little stuff is a concern.

You can also find nice stones to line your tank. The main requirement is that the stones aren’t sharp, leaving areas where frogs can scrape against them and wound themselves. I use glass marbles to line the tank of my african dwarf frogs! I wouldn’t recommend this for any land portion of your tank, however. Sand also works well and makes a nice soft setting. This is especially good if the animal requires a slightly dryer environment, like many toads. It’s cheap, and you can always compliment it with a few rocks. Common potting soil is a pretty good option as well. It’s disposable, easy to find, easy to keep moist, and isn’t expensive. The coolest thing about it is that you can plant real live plants in it and it will be really close to natural surroundings for your pet. You gotta be careful setting up the water portion if you’re using the soil option so you don’t end up with a lot of mud though.

Decor

Moss makes an excellent compliment for the land portions of your terrarium. My firebellies have a gravel substrate in their tank, but I cover the gravel with dried moss that can be bought in most pet-stores and which was wetted in clean stale water. I just have to make sure that the moss stays a little moist and check that there isn’t any mold growing on it, but the frogs absolutely LOVE it!

Plastic plants and decorations can be obtained from most pet stores. Particularly cool are plants with suction-cups for sticking to the glass. Re-arranging the decorations when you clean seems to make the frogs happy…(I guess even frogs get bored) Hollow rocks or logs that give your frog pal a place to hide are very recommended. I have a giant hollow squid in my Firebellied Toads’ tank and they hide there all the time! If you’re really energetic, you can plant some live plants and make your terrarium totally awesome! Go to your local plant store and start looking for nice plants that will do well in your tank! It’s a bit more work, but it can have really impressive results. (I have never read in any of the guides which plants are good and which are not, but I imaging the list is quite huge. Your best bet is to use common sense, i.e. don’t try planting prickly cactus, and it will probably be just fine.)

For those tree frogs, don’t forget a thick tree branch for climbing. (As for those fancy branches at the pet store, cut one out of your own yard. Scrub the branch with antibacterial soap, then freeze it for forty-eight hours. Freezing the branch is imperative. This will ensure that all harmful bacteria and parasites are killed.)

A colorful background is also enjoyed by frogs. I have a tropical background with lots of greens, blues, browns, and some red in it. You can make your own or buy one. Contact paper and construction paper both work well. Just make sure the background has an even mix of greens, blues, and browns. If you have too much of one color, your frog can actually be affected in a negative way.

Filtration and Cleaning

Cleaning the tank:
There are several things you need to keep in mind here. The main thing is that despite the fact that this can be an annoyance, it’s not something to procrastinate on. A dirty environment is almost always the cause of illness in frogs, and once your frog gets sick it can be very difficult to save it. Regular tank maintenance includes a scrub-down of all the items in the tank (excluding the frogs) with warm water. Yes, that means the plastic plants too…frogs leave residue on everything, including the glass walls, which for some species can be toxic when it builds up. Make sure the glass gets cleaned regularly as well. The other thing to look out for is mold, particularly in moss etc, and dead bugs. Moss is really really cool for frogs because it’s soft, retains moisture, and is pleasant to hang out in, (well, if you’re a frog anyways) but it needs to be cleaned regularly! You can clean it with water (preferably stale water) Though it may be worth the extra buck fifty or whatever the package costs to simply replace the stuff every now and then.

Keeping the water clean: Cleaning an aquarium tanks is basically the same for frogs as it is for most freshwater fish, except it tends to be required more stringently because frogs shed more often. The biggest problem with the half and half set-up is figuring out how to get a filter that works without a full tank. There are undergravel filters which work ok, as well as those over-the-side filters that are fine except for the fact that if you have a tank that has a huge drop between the top of the tank and the water, the noise of splashing can get pretty irritating. I’ve found the best answer to this dilemma was a pump that can be suction-cupped to the floor of the water half called The Shark Internal Filter. It fits to the floor and does a pretty good job of filtering the water (and quietly too!), and your main concern is making sure that the place where the electric chord (which is well waterproofed and won’t electrocute your anuran) doesn’t leave a gap so your frog can get out.

Later, I got a really cool set-up for my Firebellied Toads which was a waterfall/river/pond set-up. It came factory ready, and all I had to do was put the pieces together. There are several of these on the market and most provide a sort of through-the-gravel filter, which pumps water through the “landmass” to the waterfall or river mouth and then spouts it back. You don’t actually see the filter at all, and the only thing you hear is running water (except when the water level gets a bit low and it starts to sputter air bubbles.) This set-up is really cool looking, not to mention a great filter device and I recommend it to anyone who wants to invest a little cash into setting up their frog-tank to look really nice. I’ve been posting whatever online links to the filter kit on the Half-and-Half Tank Setup page. Ask your pet dealer for advice on filters.

Cleaning your tank also falls under the same categories as proper care of fish. Special gravel vacuum cleaners can be bought as well, though they basically consist of a “nice” plastic tube which can be easily made at home. In the best case scenario, you’ll be filling the tank with stale water when you clean it. By this I mean, water that has been sitting out for at least 24 hours, AND has been dechlorinated. (You can buy chlorine treatment drops at your local pet store.) That way you are less likely to poison the frogs during regular maintenance.

Common Frog Diseases and Prevention

By: All About Frogs

Unfortunately, the best way to deal with frog illness is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Sadly, the most common frog problems can be avoided with good care, and once an illness occurs, the prognosis is rarely good.

While you may not think of frogs as being particularly clean creatures, most diseases that pet frogs fall prey to are actually caused by their environment. Frogs tend to be very hardy creatures, but once they get sick the prognosis is rarely very good.Here are a few checkpoints to assure that your frogs have good hygiene.

Selecting your pet frogs:

Unfortunately, I often will go into pet stores and find frogs that are already showing signs of illness. When selecting your pet, check it out first. Once a frog gets sick it can be very hard to cure it, so you want to pick out a hardy one to begin with. Jumpy frogs are healthy frogs. If they don’t make a run for it when they get grabbed, they may not be in good condition. Abnormal bone structure, skinniness, or deformation are tell-tale signs of malnutrition. Hazy or cloudy eyes are signs of infection.

Transport:

Frogs get really stressed when you transport them, so your best bet is to do this as quickly as possible, with as little handling as possible. This is a time when freaked frogs tend to hurt themselves, particularly by smashing into walls and other such dumb stuff that tends to happen in panics. Leave your frogs alone for the first day in their new home because they’ll be pretty panicky, and let them adjust to their new surroundings.

Quarantine:

Once you get a frog, a period of quarantine is recommended. This applies only if you are buying a new frog to add to the one(s) you already have. The reason for this is that you want to be absolutely sure that your frog (healthy as it may appear) doesn’t bring an illness to the other frogs. (The idea here is that it may just be coming down with a case of something.) The best way to do this is to keep it in quarantine in a separate, smaller tank for about a week before introducing it to your other frogs. You can get fairly cheap cover-equipped plastic housing units of various sizes for such purposes. These are also really good for use when transporting frogs.

Water:

Frogs spend a lot of time in water, and clean water is a must! Before you add that water to your frog tank, make sure it has been de-chlorinated. (My sister almost lost her frogs when the tap water had a bit more chlorine in it than usual.) Best procedure here is to get a little bottle of dechlorinating solution from the nearest pet store. (any store that carries fish should have it) Add the dechlorinating drops to the water before the frogs go in… and even better, leave the water in a bucket/pitcher out for about 24-48 hours before you put it in your frog tank. Stale water is always much safer than straight tap water. Once this is done, clean the water regularly, the way you would with fish. wash your hands before touching tank items and be sure to also clean the gravel. (Be careful not to clean too often, as messing with the water too often can lead to “shocking” a frogs’ system.) It may be a good idea to keep one of those pH testing kits around. (They can be found at most pet stores that carry aquarium fish: care here is about the same as would be advised for most fish) And finally, don’t overfeed. If you have too many dead bugs or too much food flakes/debris in the water it can very quickly lead to infection.

Ventilation:

If you have frogs that live entirely underwater, such as African Dwarf frogs or African Clawed frogs, you’d best be worried that they can’t get OUT from their tank. (My sister lost quite a few froggy friends this way…she doesn’t have very good luck with her pet frogs) However, frogs need well ventilated tanks, particularly those that end up needing greenhouse-like environments. The moisture in the tank can lead to all kinds of fungal and bacterial infections. Best recommendation here is to get a screen cover which doesn’t get covered. (just like instructions on a VCR!)

Overcrowding:

Having too many frogs in the same place can also lead to bad conditions. Overcrowding a tank will generally make the frogs unhappy as well as provide breeding grounds for bacteria and fungi. It may also be a factor contributing to injuries, like when they smack into each other, or the walls, or when they get into fights. (If you don’t believe me; spend some time in an elevator with a few complete strangers and see how you feel after an hour or two.) In addition, some species of frogs release chemicals from their bodies that can be toxic to other species of frogs. So it’s rarely a good idea to mix breeds in the same tank. (Not to mention the fact that some frogs will actually eat other species, and even sometimes just smaller specimens, of frogs!

Nutrition:

Frogs found in nature have a very wide variety in their diet. For example, poison frogs lose their toxicity when they are bred in captivity because their diet is no longer as diverse as it would naturally be. Realistically, we can’t provide the complete variety that would be best, but keeping this in mind is a good idea. Crickets tend to be the most available food, and generally make the basic staple for frogs. (Some frogs require much bigger lunches, even mice! For that type of info you’re best bet is to look it up yourself, since I am considerably too squeemish to deal with that sort of subject. See my Suggested Reading List for some great written sources.) Crickets can, and should, however, be supplemented with special calcium gut pellets, like “Calcium Plus, food for Crickets”, that provide the frogs with necessary minerals. These can be found in most pet stores. The best way to do this is to drop some of these pellets in with the crickets several hours before they get fed to the frogs. Then when you go to feed them to the frogs, they will be full of good stuff for healthy froggies! For more info on this: read the section on dealing with Crickets. There are also different types of powders that can be sprinkled on the bugs before you feed them to your frogs.

Handling:

Generally speaking, handle your dear ones as little as possible. Some specimens are extraordinarily fragile and a lot of the most common problems stem from rough handling or frogs that spaz when you try to handle them, then jump out and smash themselves on something and hurt themselves. Also, some species don’t mix well with the salts that are on your skin, so before handling your frogs, WASH YER HANDS!!! Some frogs even release a fluid as a form of self defense when handled. This fluid can sometimes be toxic to the person handling the frogs, so be sure to also wash your hands well immediately after any handling as well. In addition, this fluid comes from a reserve supply of body fluid in the frogs, which needs to be replaced as soon as possible. Frogs don’t “drink” water, but rather absorb it through the skin, so it’s important that the frog has access to water after handling.

Some Common Frog Diseases and Their Treatment

While the best medicine is prevention, here are some common problems encountered by frog-pet owners. I want to stress that if your pet frog is afflicted with an illness, the most important thing to do is to Quarantine that/those afflicted frog(s) before the illness gets to the other frogs in your collection. See the Prevention notes for Quarantine. If you feel your frog is sick, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Nutritional Deficiencies:

Caused by a lack of certain minerals or vitamins, this tends to show up in a variety of ways, such as skinniness and boniness, and deformation diseases such as Rickets which cause poor growth development. Feed your frogs as much variety as possible, as this can occur mostly by feeding your frogs only one type of food: like nothing but mealworms, for example. In some cases, a routine application of powdered vitamin and mineral supplements will prevent such deficiencies. For example, feeding your crickets special powders/additives before feeding them to the frogs can help maintain more of a balance. The most common deficiency appears to be calcium. Sometimes frogs are picky about what sort of food they will take. My Oriental Firebellied Toads, for example, will only eat food that moves. Which means the mealworms I tried to feed them never got eaten because apparently they don’t move fast enough. Sometimes you can coax frogs into eating by putting food on the ends of forceps (particularly if your dealing with some of the more aggressive frogs like Budgett’s Frogs which can bite (and HURT!) your fingers!) Be careful in choosing forceps that aren’t sharp or you might end up with open wound illnesses instead of malnutrition illnesses!

Mechanical Wounds:

Caused by handling, clumsiness (i.e. panic-attack smashing into or falling onto sharp objects), and fighting, such open-wound and cut skin injuries tend to happen most to new specimens or during changing of environments. The wounds can easily get bacterial and fungal infections which can potentially kill your poor frog, so avoiding these situations is best. Badly damaged animals should be isolated and treated with anti-fungal solutions. There are a lot of antibiotics available, but I strongly recommend consulting a vet on this one.

Red-leg:

The most infamous frog disease of captive frogs, Red-leg is usually caused by the parasite Aeromonas hydrophyla. It appears as a reddening of the skin, particularly on the belly and underside of the thighs, (not to be confused with the natural colorings of some species of frogs!) Frogs that get red-leg tend to act apathetic and lazy. This is a really lethal disease so isolate the affected frog(s) right away! Sometimes in the case of newly imported animals it is more likely due to abrasions caused by dry packing, like cardboard. In the latter case, the only treatment necessary is to correct the cause and keep the affected animal(s) in an incredibly clean cage for a few days. Otherwise, redleg caught in it’s early stages can sometimes be treated by bathing the frog in a Sulfamethiazine bath (15 ml for every 10 l water) daily for 2 weeks, or a 2% solution of copper sulfate or potassium permanganate for the same period. If it shows no signs of getting better after the first week, sometimes you can treat them with the use of an antibiotic like tetracycline, so consult your veterinarian on treatment.

Fungal Infections:

Particularly troublesome to the aquatic amphibians and tadpoles, this shows up as areas of red inflammation based on soft white tissue, though generally speaking, it looks like any noticeable abnormal changes in skin color might be a symptom of this. If caught in the early stages, a fungal infection can sometimes be treated by one of several methods: the most commonly recommended method is immersing the animal in a 2% solution of malachite green or mercurochrome for 5 minutes, repeating after 24 hours if symptoms do not improve. If no improvement shows after 3 such treatments seek the advise of a vet. Another treatment I ran across was coating with 8-hydroxyquinoline (one part per 5000 every other day) until the condition vanishes.

Spring Disease:

Caused by Bacterium ranicida, this lethal disease occurs in certain temperate species during breeding season. Symptoms include continuous yawning, lethargy and skin discoloration. Apparently, there isn’t any reliable treatment for this disease, though experimentation with antibiotics may be worthwhile. Consult your vet.

Dropsy:

Possibly caused by bacteria, but much more likely a metabolism disorder – resulting from poor climactic maintenance or improper diet. Dropsy appears as bloating and soft dermal abnormalities around the abdominal region. The treatments sound really risky, involving puncturing the wounds if they aren’t near the eye region. Even the one book I was able to find that describes this illness strongly recommends seeing a specialist for treatment.

Life Cycle of a Frog

By: All About Frogs

True Love?

When Frogs mate, the male frog tends to clasp the female underneath in an embrace called amplexus. He literally climbs on her back, reaches his arms around her “waist”, either just in front of the hind legs, just behind the front legs, or even around the head. Amplexus can last several days! Usually, it occurs in the water, though some species, like the bufos on the left mate on land or even in trees!
While in some cases, complicated courting behavior occurs before mating, many species of frogs are known for attempting to mate with anything that moves which isn’t small enough to eat!

Spawn (egg-mass)

While in the amplexus position, the male frog fertilizes the eggs as they get are laid. Frogs tend to lay eggs single eggs in masses, whereas toads usually lay eggs in long chains.
Some frogs leave after this point, but others stick around to watch over the little ones. Some have very unusual ways of caring for their young.

Egg

Frogs and Toads tend to lay many many eggs because there are many hazards between fertilization and full grown frogness! Those eggs that die tend to turn white or opaque. The lucky ones that actually manage to hatch still start out on a journey of many perils.
Life starts right as the central yolk splits in two. It then divides into four, then eight, etc.- until it looks a bit like a raspberry inside a jello cup. Soon, the embryo starts to look more and more like a tadpole, getting longer and moving about in it’s egg.
Usually, about 6-21 days (average!) after being fertilized, the egg will hatch. Most eggs are found in calm or static waters, to prevent getting too rumbled about in infancy!
Some frogs, like the Coast foam-nest treefrog, actually mate in treebranches overlooking static bonds and streams. Their egg masses form large cocoon-like foamy masses. The foam sometimes cakes dry in the sun, protecting the inside moisture. When the rain comes along, after developement of 7 to 9 days, the foam drips down, dropping tiny tadpoles into the river or pond below.

Tadpole

Shortly after hatching, the tadpole still feeds on the remaining yolk, which is actually in its gut! The tadpole at this point consists of poorly developed gills, a mouth, and a tail. It’s really fragile at this point. They usually will stick themselves to floating weeds or grasses in the water using little sticky organs between its’ mouth and belly area. Then, 7 to 10 days after the tadpole has hatched, it will begin to swim around and feed on algae.
After about 4 weeks, the gills start getting grown over by skin, until they eventually disappear. The tadpoles get teeny tiny teeth which help them grate food turning it into soupy oxygenated particles. They have long coiled guts that help them digest as much nutrients from their meadger diets as possible.
By the fourth week, tadpoles can actually be fairly social creatures. Some even interact and school like fish!

Tadpole with legs

After about 6 to 9 weeks, little tiny legs start to sprout. The head becomes more distinct and the body elongates. By now the diet may grow to include larger items like dead insects and even plants.
The arms will begin to bulge where they will eventually pop out, elbow first.
After about 9 weeks, the tadpole looks more like a teeny frog with a really long tail. It is now well on it’s way to being almost fullgrown!

Young Frog, or Froglet

By 12 weeks, the tadpole has only a teeny tail stub and looks like a miniature version of the adult frog. Soon, it will leave the water, only to return again to laymore eggs and start the process all over again!

Frog

By between 12 to 16 weeks, depending on water and food supply, the frog has completed the full growth cycle. Some frogs that live in higher altitudes or in colder places might take a whole winter to go through the tadpole stage…others may have unique development stages that vary from your “traditional” tadpole-in-the-water type life cycle: some of these are described later in this tour.
Now these frogs will start the whole process again…finding mates and creating new froggies.

 

Taking Care of Tadpoles

By: All About Frogs

Frog tadpoles have gotta be the favorite pet of all time! Raising tadpoles can be much more than just fun- it is easy and educational too!

Here’s what you need to know for dealing with tadpoles yourself:

First you’ll need a suitable container, like an aquarium, fishbowl, plastic garbage bin, paddling pool, or garden pond. Be sure it has good shade—about 3/4 shade is ideal. If you are planning on having a frog pond, be sure there are no Oleanders, Pine trees or other poisonous plants near it! The fallen needles and leaves can be toxic to tadpoles.

Tadpoles absolutely depend on having fresh, clean water. If you take the water from a local stream, creek or pond, be sure it isn’t polluted. Ideally, you can get it upstream from any suspected sources like factories, sewers, etc. If using tap water, let it stand exposed to full sunlight for 5 to 7 days. This will allow the Chlorine to be removed by evaporation. If you don’t have that much time, you can buy de-chlorinating drops at your local fish-carrying pet store. But at least leave the water out overnight, even after using the droplets. Even a little chlorine is deadly to tadpoles. It is always a good idea to keep a little de chlorinated water on hand.

What do tadpoles eat? Well, apparently they LOVE lettuce. Boil the lettuce for 10 to 15 minutes and then drain it. Chop it up a little, and then you can lay it on a tray to freeze it. For average home ponds, use an icecube tray- 1 cube every couple of days should be enough. For smaller tanks, just lay some flat on a tray and freeze it, and keep it in a baggie in the freezer. Give the tadpoles a pinch every few days. Remember: too much food will get the water all dirty, and too little will make the tadpoles get nutty and go after each other. If your water gets dirty really fast, slow down on the feeding…and be sure to replace the dirty water with some fresh spare water.

The length of frog development from egg to tadpole to frog usually takes between 6 to 12 weeks. But it is also temperature dependent, so during cold spells it may take a bit longer or even be suspended till the temperatures go up. For example, eggs laid towards the end of summer may hatch, but tadpoles may stay tadpoles until the Spring/Summer period. So if it’s cold and your tadpoles don’t seem to be growing up very fast, it’s no reason to panic. The length of time a tadpole takes to develop really depends on what kind of frog it came from! I’ve even heard that some tadpoles can remain in their tadpole stage as long as 8 months, while others only take 6 to 9 weeks!

When the tadpoles start getting close to developing legs, they will need some sort of perch so they can get out of the water. Floating water lily leaves and branches are ideal, but you can also create ledges using stones or even tilting slopes of plastic in tanks. The tilt of the ledge may be important depending on what type of frog you have. Young tree frogs can climb smooth vertical surfaces such as the plastic pond liners and glass, but the ground dwelling frogs will need a rough slope when the time comes to climb out of the water.

At this point, if they aren’t big enough to eat crickets but are too large to eat cabbage, you can try starting them off with small insects. A good substitute is bloodworms (live is best) which are usually found in pet stores that carry fish. You can try feeding them to the frogs by taking the lid of a jar and turning it upside down. Fill the cap with a bit of warmish water and lay a bunch of the gross wiggly worms in and usually the frogs will find them. Or you can put the worms directly into their water…

If you’re rearing the tadpoles outside, keep the garden well watered and well vegetated. Young frogs will need a lot of ground cover to hide. There is not much point in rearing frogs in a totally hostile environment. In tanks, the same rules apply as for full grown frogs. Afterall, even if you’re not a frog predator, they still like to hide under plants and rocks when they can! Frog ponds kept year-round may establish a permanent breeding pond. If you’re worried about mosquito problems, drop in a few ‘Blue Eyes’ fish. They thrive on on mosquito larvae and won’t hurt the frogs. These fish should be available from your local fish-carrying pet stores.

How to tell what kind of frog you have from a tadpole:

Telling what a tadpole is is very hard to do…

About the only thing you can do is find a regional guide (like go to the library and find a book about what sorts of animals live in your area) and often if there are frogs, they will also show photos of what they look like as tadpoles. There really aren’t any obvious distinguishing features that separate frog types at tadpole stage. Remember there are around 3,900 species of frogs in the world!

If the field guides for your region don’t have pictures of tadpoles, your best bet is to wait until it becomes a frog and compare the pictures of frogs in the guide.

What Should I Feed My Frog and How Much?

By: All About Frogs

If you’re not sure and cannot find a care sheet on the type of frog you have, always start with crickets. Crickets are easy and basic. Most frogs and toads will eat all sorts of bugs and wiggly jiggly things that most people would cringe to see crawling on their bedroom wall at night… so if in doubt, start with crickets, and add anything else you find them interested in eating. The big fatties sometimes eat goldfish and guppies, and some will even eat mice!
As for teeny tiny frogs, you can try baby crickets or flightless flies or even live bloodworms placed in an upside down milk-cap (or some sort of shallow dish that has a bit of water for the worms.) For tadpoles, see the How to Raise Tadpoles page for more information. If you’ve got an aquatic frog (i.e. it stays underwater all the time), start with frozen bloodworms or brine shrimp.

How much should I feed my frogs?

This is probably one of the most common questions. Your best bet is to experiment and try out how much food seems to be good for your frog. Try dumping in 3 or so crickets per feeding session per frog, and see whether the frogs seem to still be hungry or starts to look underfed. Remember, frogs really do seem to have distinct behaviors, even within a species! Some will gorge themselves on any available tasty morsels regardless of need, while others will only eat once in a while when hungry. Excessive feeding is not healthy for many frogs, though some simply choose to ignore excessive food when not hungry. Determining how much to feed the frog is often a matter of understanding your frog’s personality! Other types of food can be tried (ex. mealworms, waxworms, grasshoppers,etc.) But crickets seem to be the “food of choice.”