A Guide to Owning a Frog

Frogs are fun, easygoing pets, with unique personalities and — depending on the type — beautiful colorings. They may not seem like your first choice of pet, but you might be surprised how much enjoyment you can get from them.

Another bonus is that caring for pet frogs is reasonably easy, though you’ll still have to pay close attention to their care. Before you buy, be prepared to answer these questions:

  • What do frogs eat?
  • What type of environment do they thrive in?
  • What are some of the health issues frogs can face?

Common Species Kept as Pets

Tree Frogs

There are two common types of tree frogs kept as pets: green tree frogs and red-eyed tree frogs. Green tree frogs are roughly 4 to 5 inches in size and (no surprise) are bright green in color, with an off-white stripe running from their jaw down their sides. They come from southeastern parts of the United States.

Red-eyed tree frogs are between 1.5 and 3 inches in size and (again, no surprise) have red eyes and, often, yellow toes. They are generally bright green in color as well, and may have blue or yellow stripes on their sides. They originate from Costa Rica.

Both types are tame and relatively laid-back creatures, though red-eyed tree frogs are particularly mellow. Green tree frogs are avid climbers.

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African Dwarf Frogs

African dwarf frogs are entirely aquatic and make great pets because they are easy to care for. They are typically earth-toned in color and are only 1 to 2 inches long, on average. They generally spend most of their time near the bottom of the tank, surfacing only when they need air. They are active when awake but will sleep up to 12 hours a day.

Poison Dart Frogs

Poison dart frogs come from South America and Central America. They are roughly 2 inches long and are black in color with bright yellow markings on their head, limbs and back.

Most poison dart frogs (though not all) aren’t actually poisonous — they simply taste bad to their predators. When bred in captivity, they are not toxic at all, but should still be handled with gloves.

Health and Care

Feeding: Frogs typically eat gut-loaded crickets (crickets that have been fed nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables and fish food) and fruit flies. Feed your frog 3 to 4 crickets a day to start and, if advised, coat the crickets in a vitamin powder for improved nutrition. You may need to drop down to feeding every other day depending on the type of frog.

Aquatic frogs have a different diet that may include water fleas, blood worms and shrimp.

Housing: Multiple full-grown frogs can be housed in a 20-gallon fish or reptile tank as long as no fighting occurs (separate frogs immediately if they begin to fight).

Use 2 to 3 inches of substrate so the frogs have room to burrow, and provide plenty of branches or artificial plants so the frogs have places to hide and rest. You’ll also need a water bowl or water section (unless your frog is aquatic, in which case use a full tank of water).

Heat the tank to 70 or 80 degrees Fahrenheit, allow it to drop to the high 60s at night and spritz it daily to provide proper humidity. Provide a full-spectrum light and maintain a recommended light cycle of 10 hours of light to 14 hours of darkness.

Health Concerns: Frogs are susceptible to a variety of diseases and health issues, depending on the breed. These include bloating disease, metabolic bone disease and intestinal obstruction. Most often, these issues are caused from improper nutrition or environmental problems, so be sure to pay close attention to the diet and housing needs of your particular breed of frog.

Life Expectancy: Life expectancy varies based on breed, but most frogs live somewhere between 5 and 15 years.