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ReptiOwenles are fascinating. Amphibians, I find, are even more so. The vast array of shapes and colours, the lifestyles and the survival techniques make them some of the most interesting groups of animals in the world. Unfortunately caring for amphibians seems to be a very niche interest, even within the reptile keeping world. This could be due to the slightly more complex care needs for some species or even because the majority of amphibians tend to be nocturnal. For night owls like me though, these jungle vertebrates make fantastic additions to the household.

Owen

Horned Frogs

Albino Ornate Horned Frog - Ceratophrys ornataHorned frogs, mostly mouth, are ambush predators in every sense, if a little unathletic. These South American frogs lie in wait, partially buried, until an unsuspecting insect (sometimes even small mammals or other amphibians) wanders past. The colours and markings can be particularly vibrant and intricate, when visible. In recent years many different colour variations have appeared including high red, mint and even patternless.

     As far as amphibians go, horned frogs are some of the easier choices as pets, taking into account general husbandry and setting up the enclosure. They should never be housed together though, as they do not discriminate when it comes to potential prey items. And I mentioned before, they are mostly mouth!

Red Eyed Tree Frog

Red Eyed Tree Frogs - Agalychnis callidryas     My personal favourite, nothing beats them in my opinion. These stunners are possibly the most well known species of amphibian in the world, due to them often being the flagship animals for many conservation programs and also being heavily featured in advertisement including the front of our shop!. This is almost certainly due to the amazing colours and especially the striking red that appears once the eyelids open.  

   Red eyes spend the daylight hours tucked under large leaves or smooth surfaces perfectly camouflaged, using their bright green coloring to blend in with their tropical surroundings. When the light begins to dim, though, these tree dwellers are very active. They prefer to carefully climb around their surroundings, only tending to jump when hunting or escaping danger.

   Frogs should only be handled when absolutely necessary; not only do the oils and salts on our skin cause them harm, but they can become incredibly stressed. Becoming stressed is one of the red eyes specialities. After obtaining one they should be left alone, completely. Only go near the enclosure to change water and place food of appropriate size in too. (These are not horned frogs and I have witnessed them having trouble swallowing some of the larger prey items.)

  After they have settled in, usually after about a week I find, they should start to fit into a routine of resting under a prefered leaf or on a section of the tank in the day and emerge to hunt and explore. I have personally had success keeping them at around 60% humidity during the day and raising it to 80% or more during the night. These are fantastic amphibians for those with a little patience and appreciation for something a little more delicate.      

Dart Frogs

Dyeing Poison Dart Frogs- Dendrobates tinctorius (Cobalt)One of the most attractive aspects of keeping tropical exotics, more specifically amphibians, is the possibility of creating a stunning environment for them. Anything from densely planted vivariums to ponds and waterfalls can be made to help the amphibians feel at home while having the added benefit for us (the keepers) of looking amazing. This means the tanks and vivariums can become a real spectacle, something more akin to a fishtank than a standard reptile vivarium. No other amphibian suits this kind of enclosure than the group of frogs known as the poison darts.

   These are diurnal animals, making their life style much more suited to ours, allowing us to view their amazing colours and behaviours without having to stay up into the small hours.  Also, they are not poisonous in captivity, as their toxins are made from the prey items they consume in the wild. Their food is probably the hardest aspect of their care, these tiny frogs can only handle very small prey items. Springtails, hatchling crickets and bean weevils are commonly used but the most convenient and numerous is certainly fruit flies. Fruit flies hatch in the hundreds, which can only be a good thing, as dart frogs are constantly on the hunt for food.

 I have personally had success with keeping ‘Dendrobates leucomelas’ the yellow and black dart frog and ‘Dendrobates tinctorius azureus’ the Blue dart frog. These are certainly the best species to start with, but the range of species and colours and locales within species is incredible.

 Again, I would never advise handling these animals, they are really something to be appreciated through watching and caring for with patience and understanding. Their colours, behaviours, sounds and potential for wonderful enclosures make them, for me, superior to reptiles.

Have you kept frogs before?

If so what piece of advice would you give to a new frog keeper?

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