A Guide to Caring for American Green Tree Frogs as Pets

Green Tree Frog
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American green tree frogs are, as their name suggests, green with a light stripe from the side of the head down the flanks. They don't get terribly big, but these hardy frogs are easy to adopt and make fine pets even for the novice frog owner. 

Breed Overview

Scientific Name: Hyla cinerea

Common Name: American green tree frog

Adult Size: Up to 2 1/2 inches long

Life Expectancy: 2 to 5 years


Click Play to Learn More About the Cute and Shy American Green Tree Frog

American Green Tree Frog Behavior and Temperament

These small frogs are timid, and most don't tolerate being handled well (although after many years in captivity, some will grow to accept it). For most frogs, handling causes them stress which can affect their health. 

Don't plan to keep this frog's tank in your bedroom; it is nocturnal, and the males especially are active and vocal at night. American green tree frogs are not the most cuddly of pets, but they are very cute to watch. Just bear in mind their limitations. 

Housing the American Green Tree Frog

A minimum 10-gallon tank is suitable as a cage for green tree frogs, although larger is fine. Keep in mind that frogs are arboreal (i.e., they spend almost all their lives in trees) and the height of the cage is more important than the floor space, so a tall tank is best. You also need a secure cover to prevent escape (mesh or wire is fine).

You can use a variety of materials for a substrate such as smooth gravel, cypress mulch, or soil with peat/vermiculite. Just make sure the frog is not ingesting the substrate while feeding. Some people use indoor/outdoor carpeting. The substrate can largely be covered with moss and cork bark.

An opportunity for climbing is very important, so provide a variety of branches and live or artificial plants. Consider philodendrons or sturdy ferns for live plants. Ensure any wood collected from the outdoors is pesticide-free, and you must treat collected wood to remove harmful bacteria or bugs. Driftwood and cork bark also make good cage furnishings.

Unlike many other frog species, the American green tree frog doesn't require any special heating considerations, and since it's entirely nocturnal, no supplemental UVA/UVB light is required. 

Food and Water

Green tree frogs are generally good eaters and feed exclusively on insects. Crickets can make up the bulk of a green tree frog's diet. The crickets should be gut-loaded—fed a high-protein, nutritious meal before being offered to the frog—and dusted with a calcium and multivitamin supplement a couple of times a week. Fruit flies, houseflies, moths, and other insects can also be fed to your American green tree frog if available.

Tree frogs will likely eat more in the spring and summer months than in the winter. Feed smaller frogs daily, while larger frogs can be fed daily or every other day, using body condition as a guide. If it appears that your frog is getting obese, cut back on the number of feedings.

Provide a large, shallow, sturdy water dish with dechlorinated water; it must be shallow since these frogs are not good swimmers. Mist the cage daily with dechlorinated water to maintain humidity.

Common Health Problems

As with most amphibians, bacterial and fungal infections of the skin and eyes are common ailments. Pus (which may look cheesy), swelling, or redness are signs of an infection. Although less common in frogs than in other reptiles and amphibians, respiratory infections can occur in frogs whose enclosures are too humid or not humid enough. Symptoms of a respiratory infection include wheezing, drooling and general lethargy.

If your frog is not eating well and shows no other obvious symptoms, it may have a parasitic infection. Usually, this needs to be diagnosed by a veterinarian who specializes in reptiles and amphibians. A yearly fecal sample should also be conducted to make sure your frog doesn't have an overgrowth of normal parasites. Also, be on the lookout for ammonia poisoning. This potentially fatal condition occurs when waste in an animal's enclosure is not properly cleaned. All of these ailments can be treated by a qualified vet if caught early.

Choosing Your American Green Tree Frog

Frogs can make lovely pets, but frogs in the wild are facing population declines and extinction largely as a result of human activities. Unfortunately, the pet trade is likely contributing to the amphibian extinction crisis and the spread of a devastating infection by chytrid fungus.

This is just one of the reasons to only buy frogs from reputable breeders. Get a frog that is captive bred locally and tested to be free of disease. If you take in a wild-caught frog as a pet, you have no way of knowing what diseases or health issues it may have.

You should look for an active, alert animal that has clear eyes with skin that looks free of bumps or cuts. If you are able to watch it eat before deciding, that's ideal; most frogs will not refuse food unless they're unwell. Likewise, if the frog you are considering seems lethargic or is having trouble breathing, or if its abdomen seems bloated, these may be signs of illness.

Similar Species to American Green Tree Frogs

If an American green tree frog interests you, you may want to look into similar species such as African bullfrog, leopard frog, or a White's tree frog.