Have you ever seen a frog? Do you like the way it looks? Will you keep it as a pet if you get the opportunity? Well, if you think that you can simply buy a frog breed and keep it in a breathable box in your house, then you are in for a big surprise.
Most pet frog owners who say that it is extremely difficult to keep a frog as a pet; they either have never tried it or they have not done their homework properly. The truth is that frogs can become excellent pets, only if you have enough knowledge about the habitat of your frog species and the effort to take care of it.
Are Frogs a Good Pet Option?
The argument about whether having a pet frog is a good idea or not can only be settled by understanding the pros and cons of having a pet frog. Some of the most common points regarding this are discussed below.
They are Mostly Not for Handling - Frogs are exotic creatures and like to spend their life alone without any interactions from humans. Most of these survive in their own acquired habitat, have very sensitive skin and are recommended not to be handled as even the slight presence of chemicals on the human skin can affect their body.Advertisement
Most Frogs are Nocturnal - Most frogs are nocturnal in nature, which means they are more active during the night rather than during the day. This can be one of the major drawbacks for children who are interested in keeping a frog as a pet.
They can be Noisy during the Night - In addition to being nocturnal, frogs are also considered to be noisy due to their natural cricketing sound. Most people find it very disturbing during the night.
Feeding can be Relatively Difficult - It’s not about how difficult it is to feed the frog. It is actually about what you need to feed the frog. Most frog species eat insects and some rodent animals, which include small rats and mice as well.
A Very Peaceful Pet Option - Since frogs are exotic in nature and do not prefer human interactions, they can be excellent pets to those who like a peaceful atmosphere at home.
Relatively Low Maintenance - Keeping a pet frog is not at all costly. Yes, the initial installing of its habitat could cost a little, but that much is to be done for any pet that you bring home.Advertisement
Frogs Create a Beautiful Habitat - Frogs are most healthy in a thriving habitat. If you enjoy being close to nature, then having a pet frog in a wonderfully arranged natural vegetation is the best thing to do.
They are Tiny in Size and Have a Long Lifespan - Pet frogs can become long and tiny friends, long friends as in for a long time and tiny as in their tiny sizes. A common pet frog can averagely grow up to 3 to 4 inches length.
Can You Have a Frog as a Pet?
One of the important things that people who are interested in keeping pet frogs should consider is the laws in their country. Some Australian states have protective laws for wild frogs and tadpoles and hence are not permitted for captive breeding directly from the wild. Make sure to research about such laws in your country to avoid unnecessary legal activities.
In any case, the only comfortable and most recommended way to get a pet frog is to purchase it from an authorised frog breeder or a society. But make sure to get as much information as possible regarding the pet frog species you are interested in buying. This will also help you in taking care of the pet frog better in its starting days when it requires the maximum amount of care.
Apart from this, do remember the fact that frogs are highly sensitive to their habitat and require careful monitoring of the temperature, humidity and the day-night light cycle. Even their enclosure should very closely resemble the natural habitat they live in.
Moreover, taking care of amphibians is more difficult than taking care of other pet species. They require a specific type of care and have a long lifespan. Some frog species can even live up to 20 years. This makes having a pet frog a great commitment since you need to take care of its specific needs for a long time. Only after considering all of these aspects, you are allowed to have a frog as a pet.
Taking Care of a Pet Frog
Now, if you are still serious about getting a pet frog, then it is extremely important for you to understand how to take care of it. Just feeding it on a fixed schedule will not cut it. Moreover, do keep in mind that there are many species of frogs that are nearing their extinction, mainly due to humans getting and not being able to properly take care of them. Make sure you are not contributing to that problem.
There are many factors that you need to consider while keeping a frog as a pet. Here are a few important points about frog habitats that need to be discussed before bringing the pet home.
You would want a nice enclosure for your new pet frog, which you will have to choose very carefully. It’s not very difficult to understand, all you need to do is focus on the three types of frog species that are commonly suitable as common pet frogs. Each of these types of enclosures is discussed briefly below.
The most common tree frog species are classified as Arboreals. These types of frogs spend a huge amount of time on trees and hence, prefer having extra vertical space over having it wider towards the ground. If you are planning to purchase a common tree frog as a pet, then the best choice of enclosure for you to have is called a terrarium.
These are similar to aquariums, but have more space vertically and allow airflow through the bottom vents. Apart from this, the doors are generally placed in the front, which makes the enclosure very easily accessible for cleaning and maintaining.
Terrestrial frogs require a wider area to live. Frogs that are not able to jump very high or climb very well fall into this category; such as toads and burrowing frogs. For these types of frogs, you can either use an aquarium or a terrarium, placed horizontally. Just make sure to keep the lids tightly closed so that they do not run away.
If you have a fancy choice for a frog, then there are a few frog species that are fully aquatic and can survive in a fully aquatic environment such as an aquarium. Taking them as pets may require a little more knowledge than other common pet frogs. In any case, you can easily use an aquarium for these types of frog species.
Lights and Heating
Every frog needs a day and night cycle to survive. Moreover, frogs also need a certain temperature that needs to be maintained in the enclosure in order to grow and remain healthy.
There are plenty of options you can choose from for this purpose. You can use a heating pad to heat the enclosure if you have a non-aquatic amphibian as a pet frog. They can be easily placed beside or under the closure, out of sight of the pet frog. However, you can also use a basking lamp, which can be placed over the top of the enclosure for comfortable temperature management.
In any case, light and heat are important factors. Please avoid from keeping your pet frog in just dark places, having a light cycle is an important process in their lives. You can easily buy a lamp with a daylight mode and nightlight mode for a very comfortable price.
Apart from lights and heating, frogs need regular humidity as well. For maintaining humidity in the enclosure, the most common technique used is misting. Now, whether you use automatic misting equipment, a fogger, or a cheap misting bottle, is up to you. In any case, you will have to mist the cage often, depending on the frog species you choose.
It is better to plan the humidity ahead of finally deciding the frog species since each species has its own requirement. For example, a poison dart frog may require a high level of humidity, while a common toad may not require much at all.
You can use a “thermometer hygrometer” to measure the temperature as well as humidity of the enclosure easily. They are very commonly available and are not that pricey. This may be one of the most useful pieces of equipment you could buy for maintaining a frog enclosure.
Substrates and Plants
Another important factor is the substrates. Every frog species is comfortable with its own type of substrate; you may need to do some research on this depending on the frog species you purchase.
For this purpose, the non-particulate substrate, which are mixed well are suggested. There are various mixes available which combine coco husk fibre, soil, sphagnum moss and sand. The sand is mixed well in these substrates, which makes it a very healthy substrate for your frog species. You can also plant natural plants inside your frog's enclosure, for which mixes like ABG mix are well recommended for the use.
The Most Popular Pet Frog Species
Now it is time to discuss the most popular pet frog species that everyone loves keeping in their houses. These are shortlisted to five popular species, which are briefly discussed below.
Grey Tree Frogs
Grey tree frogs are very popular among beginners. They are not very difficult to take care of but do require some attention to details. In any case, the most interesting thing about this frog species is that they have an ability to change colours. They develop either grey coloured skin or green coloured, depending on the surrounding they are in.
Unfortunately, they do not do well with human interaction and like to keep their distance. They are generally found in the areas of North America and Canada and are relatively big in size for tree frogs.
For the enclosure, you can use a vertical terrarium; something that is taller than it is wider. They can be kept at a temperature that’s a little warmer than the room temperature. They can tolerate a great range of humidity, but it is best to keep the humidity levels a little higher than 50%. Moreover, it is recommended to mist the enclosure twice every day.
Also known as the Poisonous Arrow Frog, dart frogs are a very beautiful sight. They come in various ecstatic colours and look fantastic wherever they are kept in the house. Yes, they are dangerous in nature, but when bred in captivity, they are completely harmless.
The main reason for them to be poisonous in nature is because they eat alkaline containing insects in the open. However, in captivity, they are only fed insects such as fruit flies, pinhead crickets, etc. which are non-alkaline in nature.
In any case, the important thing to keep in mind is that this frog species requires a good amount of maintenance. They require humidity levels higher than 80% at all times, for which an automated misting system may be required. You will also need a drainage layer to prevent the substrate from getting soggy. You will also need to make sure that there is healthy air circulation; otherwise, it may lead to a list of various health problems.
Poisonous dart frogs are an extremely popular pet species, even among the beginners. However, it is recommended that you purchase this frog species only if you can take care of the specific details that is needed to keep the pet frog healthy.
Red-Eyed Tree Frog
These are the most loved frog species among all. They have bright green, yellow and blue bodies with vibrant red eyes. They are very easy to take care of and have been a popular pet choice for a long time, which makes them an excellent choice for beginners.
For the enclosure, you can easily use a terrarium, but make sure to get a big enough size for the pet to be comfortable. Also, red-eyed tree frogs require constant access to fresh water, so keep an easy to clean, large water bowl in its enclosure. Remember to clean this bowl regularly as the pet frog will use this water bowl as a dumping place as well.
In any case, the water bowl needs to be cleaned effectively with a scrub motion and a 5% bleach solution to disinfect it. Apart from this, they need a good amount of humidity, temperature maintenance and UVB lighting, all of which will only be a one-time investment.
White Tree Frog
This is one of the most adopted pet frog species, mainly because of its size which is relatively larger than other frog species. The interesting thing is that they can be tamed to be handled, which makes them one of the most preferred pet frog options for beginners.
White tree frogs are also popular for their facial expressions, which includes sleepy looking eyes and a smiling face. They are very interesting to watch and come in a green or blue-green colour.
These frogs can grow up to five inches and can live longer than 15 years. They are nocturnal in nature and have very sensitive skin, so anything on human hands such as salt, unintended chemicals, soap or liquid solutions can cause serious health problems. Therefore, it is advised to take extreme care while handling.
A minimum of a 25-gallon aquarium or a terrarium is recommended as an enclosure. Make sure to keep the lid properly closed, as these frogs have padded feet which allow them to scale the sides of the enclosure easily, allowing them to escape. Also, the enclosure needs to be much taller than wide.
African Dwarf Frog
Often confused with African clawed frogs due to their incredibly small size, this frog species is one of the best aquatic frog species you can keep as a pet. It is very easy to take care of an African dwarf frog; all you need to do is keep the enclosure clean and feed it any type of organic materials.
The best enclosure for this frog species would be an aquarium. While choosing an aquarium for this frog species, you can go as big or as small as you want, depending on the budget you have. However, make sure that the height of the aquarium is not higher than 12 inches as these frogs need to swim to the top once in a while to breathe air.
Speciality food for this frog species is available (as it is an extremely popular frog species) at almost every pet store.
Which Frog Species Is Good for a Beginner?
The most common answer you would hear is the white tree frog because they are big in size and can be handled without any problems. But in truth, all of the five popular frog species can be wonderful pets. Just a little effort is required in exchange for a long-time friendship and pet love.
References and further readings:
- John Coborn, 1995, The Guide to Owning White's Tree Frog (buy book)
- Steve Grenard, Frogs and Toads: Your Happy Healthy Pet (buy book)
- Amphibian Research Centre
- Agriculture Victoria, Amphibians
- NZFrogs.org, Keeping Frogs