The classic tree frog, everyone knows what this one looks like! This iconic species is found in the cloudforest canopy across central America as far north as Mexico, and down to Colombia. Those big, bright eyes are to scare predators using what’s called the ‘startle response’; during the day they hunker down into an oval green lump with their orange feet tucked under them and their eyes covered with translucent green eyelids. If they are bothered by a predator they flash their eyes open and move their legs, showing the striped bright blue flanks and bright orange toes. This causes the predator to pause for a moment, giving the frog time to hop away.
Red eyes use their camouflage to great effect during daylight hours. They will find a comfy spot with the correct levels of heat, UV and humidity, then focus themselves down in to an almost invisible green blob on the underside of a leaf. Don’t be surprised (and don’t panic) if you can’t find any of your red eyes during the day!
They are not a large frog at 3 to 5cm, with males being smaller than females. Unlike many other tree frog species, red eyes don’t tend to be too greedy and appear to prefer smaller prey items; don’t be fooled into thinking that this makes them good candidates for cohabiting with other animals, because they are not. Red eyed tree frogs are well known for falling victim to stress, and even if a different species wasn’t trying to damage them, just the stress of sharing what is, compared to the tropical canopy, a small space is enough to cause your frogs serious harm. They are not a good species to handle, and we would definitely recommend that they be an ‘observation only’ pet.
They can live in groups, however. A terrarium of 45 x 45 x 60cm will suffice for a trio, with bigger always being better! They are happiest in a densely planted setup with plenty of broad leaves for cover, and may even breed if the conditions are right. Despite being strictly nocturnal, red eyes do need access to UV light. They tend to spend the days dozing in diffused light among the leaves, and are undoubtedly using the UV they are gathering like this.
Like all frogs, their food should always be dusted with a good multivitamin/multimineral or calcium powder at every feed. They should be offered as wide a variety of insects as possible, with crickets and locusts being the mainstay of the diet. Don’t forget to gutload your feeder insects in order to supply the frogs with all the micronutrients they need in order to keep them healthy.
As they feed in the canopy, choice of substrates isn’t really a problem. We favour a mix of coir fibre and orchid bark, which holds humidity well, is easy to clean and doesn’t tend to rot or smell. A large water bowl is a must, and must be cleaned out daily as your frogs will often use it as a toilet during the night! Tap water should be dechlorinated before use, and the water bowl scrubbed and disinfected at least once a week.
These really are the ultimate treefrog, and with a little care and forethought they are not too difficult to keep. Remember, we are always here to advise or help with any queries you may have. Happy frog keeping!