Among the nearly 6,000 known species of frogs and toads are some of the world's most fascinating and unusual animals. Many make interesting pets and may live for decades. Some engage in complex social behaviors that range from calling and signaling to performing courtship dances and feeding their offspring.
Frogs and toads inhabit every continent except Antarctica and have adapted to an amazing variety of habitats- rainforests, deserts, icy streams, mountain lakes, salt marshes, cloud forests, gardens, urban environments and more.
Poison frogs, mantellas, and walking toads are active during the day and can often be seen foraging out in the open. Others such as horned frogs may spend days in a single spot. Some toads are willing to be hand-fed, and many nocturnal species can be induced to feed during the day.
Some, such as White's tree frogs, may even perch on one's arm, but most frogs should be handled only when necessary, and with wet hands so that the skin's protective coating is not damaged. Horned frogs and African bullfrogs have tooth like projections, and may bite unless grasped behind the front legs. Poison frogs and other tiny, agile species are best moved by being urged into a small plastic deli cup or other container.
Setting up the Terrarium
Your frog's natural history will dictate the type of terrarium it requires. Poison frogs and mantellas do best in terrariums stocked with live plants. An bare tank, tilted down slightly to create a shallow water section, is ideal for African bullfrogs and horned frogs. An aquatic tank with a turtle basking platform is fine for fire-bellied toads and other semi-aquatic species. African clawed frogs and Suriname toads are entirely aquatic and do not require a land area. Toads should be kept on dry to slightly damp substrate with a large water bowl. Tall aquariums are best suited for tree frogs.
Sphagnum moss and shredded coconut fiber are suitable substrates for many species. Frogs often swallow bedding with their meals and may incur intestinal blockages, so care should be taken and gravel definitely avoided.
Light, Heat & Humidity
Most amphibians do not require UVB radiation- a photoperiod of 12 hours light can be provided with a simple aquarium daylight fluorescent. Lighting intensity is a more important consideration if you are attempting to grow live plants in your enclosure. In this case, your plant choice will determine how much light is required.
Temperatures for tropical species should range from 75-82°F, although tree frogs and poison frogs from tropical cloud forests may require cooler temperatures. Frogs from temperate regions fare best at 65-75°F. Your fluorescent light
may provide enough heat on its own. If not, try a 25 watt incandescent bulb for smaller tanks, though any radiant heat has the potential to dry out the terrarium and extra misting may be necessary.
Humidity requirements vary greatly, but even amphibians from arid regions require daily misting, and all should have access to a clean pond or bowl of water.
Porous skin allows frogs and toads to remain hydrated and oxygenated without breathing or drinking in the same way as most other vertebrates. However, this trait also allows harmful chemicals such as ammonia released in their waste to be absorbed through their skin. Ammonia is extremely lethal, and an ammonia test kit
should be used to monitor levels in any permanent water source. Most aquatic species are best kept at a pH of 6.5 to 7.5. Chlorine and chloramine must be removed from any water used in aquariums and water bowls. Liquid solutions that remove these chemicals instantly are widely available.
Frogs are carnivorous and stimulated to feed by movement. Only aquatic species like African clawed frogs can be fed a diet comprised mostly of commercial food. The aquatic Suriname toad will consume a variety of fishes and earthworms. A highly varied diet is essential for the health of your frogs. Ideal live foods include crickets, earthworms, roaches, sowbugs, waxworms, silkworms, houseflies,and other commercially available and wild-collected insects. Options for poison frogs and mantellas include fruit flies, pinhead crickets, springtails, termites, flour beetle larvae, aphids, and field plankton obtained by sweeping a collecting net through tall grass.
Whole fishes and pink mice are ideal calcium sources for large horned frogs and other species, but they should not be used exclusively as health problems can develop.
Food other than pink mice and fish should be powdered with a calcium supplement
on a regular basis. Vitamin & mineral supplements
should be used 2-3 times per week. Juveniles and small species do best when fed daily. Most other frogs can be maintained on 3-4 feedings per week, while the largest species may need only 1-2 feedings per week.
Daily Care and Maintenance
Daily care includes misting, feeding, changing water, and removing waste. Amphibians should be checked often for discolored skin, lesions, injuries, or any other sign of ill health.
Salmonella bacteria, commonly present in reptile and amphibian digestive tracts, can cause severe illnesses in people. Handling an animal will not cause an infection, as the bacteria must be ingested. Salmonella infections are easy to avoid via the use of proper hygiene. Wash your hands with warm, soapy water before and after handling any animal. Please speak with your family doctor or veterinarian for more tips on preventing Salmonella, or please read our care guide Cleaning and Disinfecting Recommendations
for additional instructions.
When it comes to your new pet, knowledge is the best way to choose an appropriate addition to your family. Learn as much as you can about your new friend before you bring him home to ensure your pet enjoys a long, healthy life.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact our reptile room at 717-299-5691 ext. 1246 or [email protected]
Shallow water dish
Natural wood branches or cork bark