Whitney has raised and bred different species of geckos, snakes, lizards, tortoises, and other exotics since 2003.
Choosing Your First Pet Frog
When it comes to choosing a pet frog, you'll find that there are many different options to choose from, but not all of them are ideal for beginners.
First off, yeah, dart frogs may be brightly colored and visually attracting, but they are one of the harder species to keep and are quite fragile. Other species are more rare or wild caught only, which makes them less stable and hardy.
When choosing a beginner frog species, it's best to choose a captive-bred species that is known for its hardiness and good health. There are many species available to choose from, and they can be just as exciting and pretty as some of the more rare species. Just make sure that you do your research before picking a pet frog, so that you know how to properly care for it.
Recommended Frogs for Beginners
- Pacman Frog (Ornate Horned Frog)
- Tomato Frog
- Fire Belly Toad
- White's Tree Frog
- Waxy Monkey Frog
- Red Eye Tree Frog
- Dwarf Underwater Frog
Pacman Frog (Ornate Horned Frog)
The Ceratophrys ornata, or the ornate horned frog, also known as the pacman frog, is native to the subtropical regions of southern Brazil, Uruguay, and eastern-central Argentina. The species is one of the larger frog species in the pet trade and is typically very hardy.
Size and Life Span
Generally, males will be smaller than females, which can range up to 5.5" inches. In general, the species has an average life span of up to 15 years, with most living 7 to 10 years.
These frogs get rather large, but because the aren't very active, they can live fine in a 10- or 20-gallon tank. Use a substrate that will retain moisture and humidity, such as coconut coir or moss. The frogs will burrow into the substrate, and in a lot of cases, you'll have to hunt to find them. You'll also want to add a shallow water bowl that is large enough for the frog to sit in.
These frogs have wide mouths and they'll try to eat anything that they can get a hold of, even if that means it's a little too large. You want to house pacman frogs individually as they will eat other frogs. Other than that, offer a pacman frog crickets, earthworms, minnows, guppies, mice (of appropriate sizes), and other insects. Just make sure that you don't feed a sole diet of mice, as they can get fatty, and pacman frogs are prone to obesity.
Remember, large frogs don't have to be fat frogs. There is a weight issue to consider, and, yes, you can overfeed a pacman.
You can handle a pacman frog, but you want to make sure to wash your hands before and after handling. Your frog absorbs things through its skin, so you want to make sure that your hands are clean before handling. In regards to hand washing afterwards, it's just as important as frogs can have secretions that can irritate your eyes, nose, mouth, and any cuts or abrasions that you may have.
The Dyscophus insularis, or Tomato frog is originally found in Madagascar. They range from a yellow-orange color to a bright red color.
Size and Life Span
Generally, these frogs will range in size up to 4 inches long, with the females being a good bit larger than males. This frog has a slightly shorter life span than the other frogs in this article, living an average of just six to eight years.
When housing a tomato frog, you want to have at least a 10 gallon enclosure for up to two adult frogs; a 20 gallon long aquarium is a much better size for any more than two frogs. Use a coconut coir bedding, as it will help retain humidity and moisture. These frogs require temperatures of at least 64 to 80F, so as you can see, they're pretty forgiving in regards to the temperature. Make sure to provide a shallow water dish with clean water daily.
These frogs will generally burrow and wait for insects to pass by. They will eat crickets, earthworms, and even small mice.
You want to keep handling to minimum, as these frogs will release a sticky, white mucus which will irritate your skin.
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Fire Belly Toad
The Bombina orientalis is a very hardy semi-aquatic frog species that is native to Korea, China, and Manchuria. They are commonly found among water ditches, ponds, puddles, and backwaters. These frogs are more diurnal, which make them more entertaining than some of the other pet frog species.
Size and Life Span
This species of toad has a green back of varying shades from a lime green to dark green, and a red-orange underbelly. They are typically a few inches and length, and are known to live about 10 years or so under proper conditions.
Fire belly toads are relatively small, and about 3 can fit in a 10 gallon aquarium, but larger is always better, as they really do well in a semi-aquatic tank. Some keepers house them on all land with a large water bowl, but many will set up a true semi-aquatic habitat.
The land area of the tank should be composed of a coconut coir, moss, and other woodland type substrates, such as bark and leaves; you can even use non-toxic plants in the enclosure to help make it more natural. When it comes to the aquatic area, you want a slight slope for easy access to the land.
You want to use a water purifier to get rid of the chlorine and materials in the water that can harm your pet, and you'll definitely want to set up a good filter. Also try using various floating plants to create cover in the water, as these toads like to hide in the water, as well as on land. You want the temperatures to range about 70-75F.
This species will eat crickets, minnows, guppies, worms, and other insects.
Do not handle firebelly toads, as their skin secretions can be quite toxic. If you do handle them, you want to make sure the thoroughly wash your hands afterward.
White's Tree Frog
The Pelodryas caerulea, is also known as the White Lipped Tree Frog, Dumpy Tree Frog, and the White's Tree Frog. This species is originally found throughout the northern half of Australia and in southern New Guinea. These frogs are nocturnal, so you won't get much entertainment out of this species.
Size and Life Span
They are about 3.5" in length, but there have been some individuals that have reached up to 5". The species is known to live an average life of about 15 years, but again some have lived over 25. With good care, your White's treefrog, can live a very long time.
This species is a larger species of treefrog, but only requires a 10 gallon tank for an adult. You want the temperatures to range about 80 to 85F during the day. Keep the humidity high with a substrate that is good at retaining moisture, such as a moss or coconut coir.
These species will eat readily on crickets, earthworms, small mice (appropriately sized), and other small prey.
You can handle a dumpy tree frog, but you want to make sure to wash your hands before and after handling. Your frog absorbs things through its skin, so you want to make sure that your hands are clean before handling. In regards to hand washing afterwards, it's just as important as frogs can have secretions that can irritate your eyes, nose, mouth, any cuts or abrasions that you may have.
Waxy Monkey Frog
The Phyllomedusa sauvagii, is also referred to as the Waxy Monkey Tree Frog and the Waxy Monkey Leaf Frog. These frogs are native to South and Central America, in the dry prairies of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay.
Size and Life Span
These frogs are generally at least two to three inches in length, with females being larger than males. They have an average lifespan of about 8 to 10 years.
These frogs require at least a 15 to 20 gallon tank per one adult, and another 10 gallons for each additional adult frog. Keep the enclosure between 85 to 90F during the day with high humidity. The best way to retain humidity is to use moss, coconut coir, or some other substrate that will retain moisture. Some claim that UV lighting may benefit these frogs, but because the frogs are nocturnal, I doubt the use of UV lighting would have any drastic effects on the frogs.
The waxy tree frog will thrive on a diet of crickets, fruit flies, termites, springtails, and other various insects that are appropriately sized.
Red Eye Tree Frog
The Agalychnis callidryas is native to a wide range of places, to include from southern Mexico through Panama, as well as in parts of northern Columbia. The red eye tree frog is a popular pet frog, as they are brightly colored and visually appealing. Also, keep in mind this is a nocturnal species.
Size and Life Span
These frogs range from about 2 to 2.5" long, and can live about 10 years in captivity.
The species requires at least a 10-gallon tall tank with good humidity. Some people keep the enclosure more simple with moist paper towels and a potted plant, but others may go all out in creating a more natural enclosure with a dirt or moss substrate and possible an added waterfall or pond. In the case of a more natural enclosure, you may want to consider a larger size tank, as the more space you take up with dirt, plants, and water décor, the less room the frog will have, so for more natural setups, stick with tanks that are at least 29 gallons.
You want to offer crickets, butter worms, earthworms, and other various insects to tree frogs. This species is prone to calcium deficiency and metabolic bone disease, so you want to make sure that you dust the insects properly.
Try to avoid handling your tree frog, as much as possible. These guys are not as sturdy as a pacman frog, and you'll find although the red eye treefrog is very hardy, it is a little more fragile.
Dwarf Underwater Frog
The Hymenochirus curtipes is a small, flattenend, and rough-skinnned frog that is entirely aquatic. Unlike the firebelly toad, the dwarf underwater frog does not need any land in their enclosure. These frogs are native to West Africa, living in shallow, still water that is heavily vegetated, such as ponds, ditches, puddles, and rice paddies.
This species is very small, and 4 or 5 frogs can live in a 5-gallon enclosure. You'll want to provide a good filtration system, and you'll need to properly treat the water for chlorine and other chemicals. It's ideal to have the water temperature about 75 to 82F. You do not want the temperature to fall below 70F.
In a lot of cases, these frogs are sold as a community frog with other tropical fish, but they are best when housed with just other frogs. (I've had the dwarf frogs in a tank with other fish and a blue lobster, the lobster at the frogs and some of the fish; in other cases, I've seen other fish eat the frogs, so it's best to house dwarf water frogs with only other frogs.) These frogs can be quite shy, but they do really well in tank setups with rooted and floating plants.
These frogs will eat bot live and frozen foods. They thrive on blackworms, bloodworms, and rinsed brine shrimp, as well as daphnia and cyclops. Sometimes they may feed on commercial diets, but the commercial frog pellets are less desired.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Renee buff on August 14, 2020:
hi i have a quextion i have a 10 gal tank with glowfish and one snail what do you think of firebelly toafs being in with them any suggeztion on what kind of stuff i we ould hVe to zdd would putting a log help and what kinds of food
ZacBiniak on October 08, 2019:
I want a pet frog but I’m having a hard time to find one suitable
FrodogenicFrogs on August 18, 2019:
Seems like the Dumpy is aka the Green tree frog from the top end down under, my favourite frog!
Would anyone know the name of a small cute frog I’ve seen in port Hedland, Karratha and Newman? Colour ranges from nearly translucent to white and “sandy” and they are known to enter the unwary donger via the bathroom shower, sink and floor drains?? I’ve even had peeping frogs on the shower screen to join in the cascade!!! If I could purchase those frogs somewhere, I’d be stoked:)) both these frogs love to be photographed, some green trees have actually seemed to pose for the perfect pic & a photo of the smaller type of frog through a shower screen door was a perfect lock screen wallpaper too
Shanti on June 07, 2019:
hi been busy looking at frogs i just realised i might go for the green and golden bell frog is it hard to look after??
Shanti on June 07, 2019:
I am a student where are looking at Mini-Beast need one for project i am going for red eye tree frog could you let me now aout like what it needs weather it bites or anything? thx
Eliza on June 06, 2019:
I love frogs and toads and i love them so much
Tristanthekingandpotostheningafrog on March 03, 2019:
I have a Baja tree frog
luke on October 10, 2018:
im getting a frog for my birthday
kingoffrogs on March 15, 2018:
eastern americian toads are probably the BEST pet frogs/toads for beginners. they eat 1-2 times a week, their water dish needs to be changed once daily, and you can house them together if they're the same size. make sure to use a 10 gallon for one toad, 20 gallon tank for 2 toads, and so on.
Joe on January 22, 2018:
American green tree frogs are easy to house
RichaadeEB on April 06, 2017:
I have been a closet frog fanatic for many years now... I'm finally starting to open up to the real me and let my inner Slippy™ shine, I would like to thank the author of this article for all the power they have given me. :+)
Rythegreat on April 05, 2017:
Thanks I'm thinking about getting a frog and this info really sprouted some ideas. So thank you so much
Olivia on September 05, 2016:
Thanks for the hub... I have 2 American Toads and they are very easy to take care they are one of the best starter pets also.
nicolerkilpatrick on May 10, 2011:
Thanks for this hub, it is useful.
Whitney (author) from Georgia on December 26, 2010:
All animals can bite.
Silver Poet from the computer of a midwestern American writer on December 26, 2010:
Interesting hub. Do pacman frogs bite humans? I heard that they do.
Whitney (author) from Georgia on September 05, 2010:
It is odd that all they do is spend time on the ground. Are you sure that you have the White's Dumpy frog, as these are normally arboreal frogs, spending time in branches. It is not normal for them to spend so much time on the ground, especially burrowing. What are your temperatures and humidity levels
mandy on September 05, 2010:
i have 2 dumpies and they refuse to climb. they burrow. the only time they come out of the soil is at night to the water and to eat their crickets. does anyone know why these pretty little frogs prefer to burrow rather than climb the trees and glass?
Whitney (author) from Georgia on August 05, 2010:
Some frogs will eat the small fish, but like you've experienced, some just ignore them. I guess it's all in the different individual frogs. I've see some frogs just devour small guppies, although a diet of only fish isn't ideal.
Tammy on August 05, 2010:
This is great. I just wish I had more time to read this morning. I will be back. We actually have a fire-belly toad, we had 2 but one died on us. We didn't realize they actually live as long as you have stated. We kept expecting our other one to die but she has stuck around so we are looking to get at least one more or maybe 2.
We like to keep fish in our tank. The frogs never seemed interested in the fish. I guess we keep the well stocked in crickets. LOL. I was interested in the land items to use. And you are very correct about them liking to hide in the plant life. She does like to hide. Sometimes it is hard to find her. So thank you for the info, it was great to learn a little more. I am looking into a White's tree frog myself. I will read your blog again and then do some more research before I get one.
India Arnold from Northern, California on August 04, 2010:
You amaze me with your insight on the animal world. I have many times gained wonderful information on animal behavior and facts by reading your hubs. Thank you again for the cool read. Frogs may well be on the list for the next pet added to the family!
~always choose love~
Sweetsusieg from Michigan on August 04, 2010:
Thanks for the informative hub!! I've had many pets but frogs have never been in my menagerie.
As an aside, we have had living in our shed roof a white toad, awesome creature that has been here for more than 8 years and continues to send his/her offspring all over our yard. Great hub Voted up!!