Best Pet Frogs for Beginners
Choosing a 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, yea 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 their 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.
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 are typically very hardy.
Generally, males will be smaller than females, which can range up to 5.5" inches, but in general, the species has an average lifespan 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 pac man 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, any cuts or abrasions that you may have.
This is one of my favorite books on setting up a Pacman Frog enclosure and ensuring the the frog has the best diet.
The Dyscophus insularis, or Tomato frog is originally found in Madagascar. They range from a yellow-orange color to a bright red color. Generally, these frogs will range up to 4 inches long, with the females being a good bit larger than males.
This frog has a slightly shorter lifespan than the other frogs on this page, living an average of just 6 to 8 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.
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.
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.
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 onlu 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.
These frogs are generally at least 2 to 3 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.
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.
Also, keep in mind this is a nocturnal species.
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.