Frog Care Guide
Frogs make truly amazing pocket pets but keeping them happy, healthy and content requires the right home environment and diet.
Having wriggled their way into our hearts with their huge eyes and goofy grins, frogs are popular and endearing pets. They’ve come a long way from the bullfrog races and practical jokes of nineteenth-century schoolchildren. Now, it is almost easy to produce a comfortable and homelike frog habitat in a terrarium in your own home.
Cleaning the terrarium and feeding the frog are not so easy, but if you choose your frog carefully, your pet can live with you happily for more than twenty-five years.
Setting up a wonderful habitat for your first frog is easy these days, because the pet supply houses have come up with everything you need:
- Glass terrarium with canopy (cover) and light. For many kinds of frogs, you’ll be looking for a terrarium that opens in the front and has a secure latch. For some other types of frogs, a tank that opens at the top, and has two sections (one for water and one for land) is the way to go. The two-section tanks can be made from a regular aquarium: fit a piece of glass inside as a divider, and secure with clear aquarium caulking. Sand the top of the divider so that it has no sharp edges, before sliding it in. There are a few pet frogs that are entirely aquatic, and a large fish tank will do nicely for them;
- Artificial lighting, which should fit into the canopy of the terrarium. Many kinds of frog require some ultraviolet-B (UVB) light, in addition to regular light.
- Substrate materials: aquarium sand or gravel, mulch-like material, pebbles, or peat moss. The best kind of substrate will depend on the kind of frog you are planning to house. Treefrogs will need mulch and sand, for example;
- Water dish, if the frog is not entirely aquatic;
- Plants, rocks, and branches – real and fake – for shelter and climbing;
- Water filter, if there is more than a dish of water being used;
- Thermometer and hygrometer (it measures humidity, not needed for entirely-aquatic frogs);
- Submersible aquarium heater and/or under-tank heating pad (necessary for some frogs, not needed for others);
- Water pump and fake water fall, or ‘mist maker’ (optional for some species, and vital for others);
- Housing for the frog’s food;
- Hidey-huts; and
- Critter-carrier, for vet visits, quarantines, and a place to put the frogs while you clean the main tank.
There should be enough room in the terrarium to allow the frogs to jump around, and enough items to climb to keep the little creatures busy. That said, some types of frog will sit like the proverbial lump on a log between feedings. If the terrarium is set up correctly for the species and number of individuals living inside, don’t worry about how much exercise they are getting.
Fresh, clean water needs to be available at all times. The same places that sell terrarium supplies carry an assortment of perfect water dishes and ‘wading pools’ for frogs. Buy at least two, so that a clean one can be in the terrarium while the other one is being washed. A bottle of water conditioner is useful for neutralizing some of the common chemicals in tap water.
Generally speaking, frogs are carnivores (meat-eaters) that eat their food while it is still alive. Crickets, various types of worms, caterpillars, moths, and fly larvae are all standard fare. Some of the larger frogs also eat mice, other frogs, and fish. For some species of frog, the rule is: “If it is alive and fits in the mouth, it is lunch”. Many pet stores sell worms, crickets, and so on. They can usually also provide the enclosures, substrates, and food for these creatures.