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Article Archive

    White Tree Frog

    White Tree Frog
    • Overview
    • Habitat
    • Substrate & Terrarium Environment
    • Feeding
    • Cleaning
    • Social Grouping & Breeding
    • About the Author
    • Origin: Australia, New Guinea, & Torres Straits Islands
    • Habitat: Woodlands and fields near streams and swamps
    • Average Size: 3-5 inches
    • LifeSpan: Up to 25 years

    Physical Description
    These frogs are sturdily built, with females, the larger sex, reaching 4.5 inches in snout-vent length (males average 1 inch shorter). Usually jade green in color, blue-green and blue individuals are known in captivity. Adult females sometimes develop enlarged ridges of skin, known as supratympanal folds, above the eyes.

    Northern and eastern Australia, New Guinea (northern and southern lowlands and the Vogelkop peninsula), islands in the Torres Straits; introduced to New Zealand.

    Natural Habitat
    Open woodlands and overgrown fields, usually near streams or swamps. Generally stays above ground, and shelters in hollow trees and boulder crevices. Also frequents ranches, farms and homes, where it may be found in mailboxes, meter boxes, bathrooms and other moist areas.

    Caterpillars, moths, spiders, grasshoppers, roaches, beetles and other invertebrates, small frogs and lizards.

    The Enclosure
    White’s treefrogs are best maintained in screen-covered glass aquariums. Vertically-oriented “extra high” style tanks are ideal. Be sure to use cage clips on the aquarium cover, as the frogs are quite strong and may attempt to escape at night.

    Heat, Humidity and Light
    In their natural habitat, White’s treefrogs experience temperatures ranging from 45-95 F. In captivity they do best when kept at 82-85 F, with a night time dip to 68-75 F. Depending upon your room temperature, a fluorescent bulb may do the trick. If you need to use an incandescent bulb, use the lowest wattage possible, lest you risk over-drying the terrarium. Reptile night-viewing bulbs may be used to provide heat at night, although room temperatures usually suffice. Humidity is an important and often overlooked aspect of amphibian husbandry, but White’s treefrogs are rather resilient in this respect. Their terrarium should not be continually moist, but rather should be allowed to dry out after being misted in the morning – the frogs will seek out the water bowl when necessary. Ventilation is very important, as stagnant air conditions will lead to a host of health problems. White’s treefrogs are largely nocturnal and have not been shown to require UVA or UVB light. Un-filtered UVB may, in fact, be harmful to some amphibians. A natural light cycle, in terms of day/night length, may encourage normal activity levels. A florescent UVA-emitting reptile bulb should be useful in this regard and will allow you to keep live plants if so desired. A night-viewing bulb will enable you to observe your frog after dark, when it is most active, and is highly recommended.

    Substrate & Terrarium Environment
    A mix of coconut husk, reptile forest bark, cypress mulch, R-Zilla Compressed Frog Moss and other moisture-retaining reptile/amphibian beddings will work well. Avoid sand or gravel, as these ravenous feeders will swallow most anything in the vicinity of their meals.

    Physical Environment – Habitat Type and Terrarium Decorations
    More “climbers and walkers” than “jumpers”, White’s treefrogs prefer thick, horizontally oriented branches on which to perch. Smooth branches and cork bark rolls, as wide, or wider than the frogs themselves, are ideal. These ponderous frogs are hard on live plants, but well-established snake plants (Sansevieria trifasciata) and cast iron plants (Aspidistra elatior) can be used to good effect. Treefrogs favor the recessed areas among the sturdy leaves as resting sites, and both plants do well in low-light, semi-moist conditions. As long as comfortable perching sites are available, White’s treefrogs are happy to remain in the open, and do not require caves or similar hiding spots.

    Your treefrogs but should be provided with a shallow water bowl. Be sure to add instant water de-chlorinating drops to water used in the terrarium. A once or twice daily misting should keep the humidity levels within the proper range.

    Your pets should be given as much dietary variety as possible. In common with many animals native to habitats where food availability varies widely, White’s treefrogs process their meals effectively. This is a good survival strategy, but leaves them prone to obesity in captivity. Non-breeding adult frogs in good weight require a volume of food equal to approximately 6 crickets weekly. The food should be divided into 2-3 meals. Newly transformed frogs can be fed daily, with meal frequency being decreased to every other day or so as they mature.
    The main portion of their diet should not be crickets, but rather a mix of earthworms (most arboreal frogs refuse these, but White’s gobble them enthusiastically if offered from a plastic feeding tong), roaches, crickets, mealworm beetles, sow bugs, butter worms and waxworms. Silkworms and tomato hornworms, available via internet dealers, should be offered from time to time. I use super mealworms sparingly, and then only newly molted (white) grubs. Food insects should themselves be fed properly before being offered to your pets. Please see our articles: Product Review: Gel-Based Water Sources for House Crickets (Acheta domestica) and Prepared Diets and Food Supplements for House Crickets) for further information. Adults fed a varied diet require a vitamin/mineral supplement approximately once each week. Growing frogs have high calcium requirements…their diets should be supplemented with vitamins and minerals 3 times weekly. Perhaps the biggest mistake pet keepers make regarding this species is to use pink mice as a food source. This is a bad idea and will eventually lead to eye, kidney and liver problems. While these aggressive predators certainly take the occasional rodent or lizard in the wild, research has shown that insects, spiders and other invertebrates form the vast majority of their natural diet. Their digestive systems cannot properly process a diet that contains too many mice or other vertebrates. White’s treefrogs take readily to tong or even hand feeding (use plastic tongs). Canned insects, such as Can O’ Grasshoppers and Can O’ Pillars should be used to increase dietary variety. Wild caught insects, collected from pesticide-free areas, should be offered whenever possible. Zoo Med’s Bug Napper is an excellent insect trap. Sweeping a net through tall grass and searching around outdoor lights will also yield a wide variety of tasty treats. Avoid using spiders, stinging and brightly-colored insects and fireflies, and do not collect during times when your area is being sprayed with insecticides, as during mosquito control programs. My White’s treefrogs relish katydids, grasshoppers, beetles of all types, moths, tree crickets, caterpillars and most everything else I come up with, and these form the bulk of my collection’s diet during the warmer months.

    Amphibian skin is quite porous, and allows for the absorption of oxygen and water as well as pathogens and toxins (i.e. ammonia) from animal waste products. Water bowls must be cleaned frequently, and surfaces such as glass, rocks and plant leaves should be wiped down do remove material that may have been left there as the frogs move about. Plain water is sufficient in most cases. If a disinfectant is needed, the terrarium must be dismantled and thoroughly rinsed before the frogs are re-introduced. Depending upon your set-up and number of terrarium inhabitants, entire or partial substrate changes must be made on a regular basis.

    Social Grouping & Breeding
    Social Grouping
    Similarly- sized frogs will get along well, but they can and will swallow individuals up to one half their own length.

    The sexes can be distinguished by the males’ smaller size and by the dark, loose skin about their throats. Males in breeding condition develop thick, roughened nuptial pads on the outer surface of the thumbs, to help retain a grip on females during amplexus (mating embrace). White’s treefrogs sometimes breed spontaneously, but success is more likely if they are chilled to 60-65 F and provided with a shortened daylight cycle (6-8 hours) for 4-6 weeks. The eggs will hatch in 2 days at 82 F. The tadpoles do not move or feed for 2 days or so, after which they will accept fish fry food, tropical fish flakes and soaked Repto-min Food Sticks. A sponge or corner filter and frequent partial water changes should be used to maintain water quality. Metamorphosis occurs in 4-8 weeks, depending upon temperature and tadpole density. The froglets should be fed vitamin/mineral enriched crickets (“10 day” size to start), sow bugs, aphids and fruit flies.

    About the Author
    Check out more of Frank's articles on That Reptile Blog, That Fish Blog and That Avian Blog.