What You Need to Know About Pet Frogs

Pet frog
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Frogs can make great pets for the right person, 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. For this reason, you should only buy frogs that you are sure are captive bred locally and tested to be free of disease whenever possible. Avoid capturing wild frogs and keeping them as pets.

Scientific Name: Pyxicephalus adspersus

Lifespan: 4-15 years

Size: 2 to 5-1/2 inches

Caring for Pet Frogs

Frogs in captivity are quite long lived (with proper care) so be prepared for a long term commitment. Average life spans are typically four to fifteen years, although some frogs have been known to live longer.

Some of the smallest frogs you might see in a pet store grow into giants. Sometimes their name adds to the confused expectations (i.e. "pixie" frogs, which sound like they should be small, are actually African bullfrogs which grow to be eight to nine inches long and very fat). They get their cute name from their Latin name, Pyxicephalus adspersus.

Some people might find pet frogs to be boring, but some of the smaller frogs are actually quite active. However, many of the larger frogs are sedentary and don't move around much. Frogs are not a pet that should be handled regularly due to their special, sensitive skin.

If you travel often and tend to leave town for more than a couple of days at a time, keep in mind that it can sometimes be difficult to find someone to care for your frogs.

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Everything You Need to Know About Pet Frogs

Housing Frogs

Setting up a tank with everything your frog needs before bringing them home should be done to ensure a proper environment with appropriate water, humidity, and heat requirements. Some frogs hibernate and you will have to provide certain conditions to make sure your frog does so safely.

Make sure you know the right kind of tank your frog will need (i.e. aquatic, terrestrial, arboreal, or semi-aquatic). A half land and half water environment is probably the trickiest to set up but is also one of the most common types of tank needed for frogs.

Keeping a frog enclosure clean can be a lot of work. Many frogs have fairly simple light, temperature, and humidity requirements but they are very sensitive to contaminants and waste in their environment.

Food and Water

Your frog's diet will vary based on its species, but generally speaking, frogs are carnivores who eat live prey. Many frogs eat insects, including crickets, worms, caterpillars, moths, grasshoppers. Some of the larger frogs will even eat pinky mice. You can purchase live prey at your local pet store.

Be sure that fresh and clean water is available to your frog at all times.

Good Frog Species for Beginners

As with any other kind of pet, doing lots of research prior to deciding on the type of frog that best suits your needs is the best way to make sure you and your frog will be happy.

  • Dwarf Frogs: These are small, active, completely aquatic, and are among the easiest of frogs to keep in captivity. They are very popular pet frogs.
  • Oriental Fire Bellied Toads: These are semi-terrestrial frogs that are fairly active and relatively easy to keep as pets.
  • White's Tree Frog: White's are terrestrial tree frogs that are docile and easy to keep but they do tend to be fairly inactive so some people find them boring as pets.
  • African Clawed Frogs: These are aquatic frogs that get quite large (be careful not to confuse young African clawed frogs with the much smaller dwarf clawed frogs) but their care is not that difficult.
  • American Green Tree Frogs: These tree frogs are another species that are suitable for beginners.
  • Pacman Frogs: Mostly terrestrial, pacman frogs are pretty easy to care for but get quite large and are pretty sedentary.
frogs as pets
Illustration: Wenija Tang. © The Spruce, 2018