A Guide to Owning an Amphibian

Reptiles and amphibians make great pets, especially for those who prefer something interesting to watch over something you can hold and cuddle.

Amphibians provide a slightly different experience than many reptiles because they are often smaller (and therefore more manageable) and are also generally less temperamental.

Popular Pet Amphibians

Most amphibians make great pets for the simple fact that they are easy to care for, and most aren't prone to biting or attacking. Still, some amphibian species are more interesting than others in terms of appearance.

If it's frogs you like, the most interesting choice is the tree frog, either the green or the red-eyed variety. Tree frogs are very laid-back, but their distinct colorings make them great focal pets that will always get attention.

Toads are a little less flashy in their appearance but still make great pets. Their warts give them a fun gross-out factor, but often their underbellies are brightly colored and are quite beautiful. Fire bellied frogs probably have the most visual appeal of all the common pet breeds.

Salamanders are one of the most popular choices for pet amphibians and are reminiscent of pet lizards. Like frogs, many breeds have striking markings, such as the spotted salamander, which is covered in polka dots. The entirely aquatic axolotl is unique, as well, because it does not undergo metamorphosis into the traditional salamander appearance.

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Buying Pet Amphibians

Unfortunately, many breeds of amphibians have been captured to the point of near extinction to supply pet shops with their stock. It's important to ensure that your amphibian was bred in captivity to avoid causing more harm to the species in the wild.

If you're looking for amphibians for sale from breeders or pet stores, you'll find that prices vary widely, but typically you'll pay more for types with more distinctive markings. Age is also a factor, as babies are generally cheaper than adults at their peak.

What You'll Need Before You Buy

Amphibian care generally starts with creating a home for your pet. A 10- to 20-gallon tank is usually a good start. Most amphibians need rocks to climb on and plants to hide in to make them feel at home. Some may also have specific heating and lighting needs, so be sure you find out exactly what your pet will need before you bring it home.

Dietary needs are probably the biggest consideration in preparing for your pet amphibian. Many are susceptible to serious health issues if they become deficient in vital nutrients, and if not corrected, these issues can be fatal. Find out exactly what amphibians eat and how they eat it before you make your choice of pet.

Finally, as with any pet, you'll want to make sure you're committed to caring for your new amphibian. Many can live for 10 years or longer, so make sure you research all the amphibian facts and understand exactly what you're getting into before you buy.