The world’s rain forests harbor hundreds of tree frog species, some of which adapt well to captivity and make rather undemanding pets. To maintain them successfully, you must recreate several key aspects of their rain forest habitat, including the proper temperatures, humidity and structural components. Although you can decorate the habitat to look like a rain forest, the aesthetics of the enclosure are not important to your frog.
Although tree frogs tend to live in the canopy of trees, like most amphibians, their lives are inextricably linked to water. The abundant moisture in the rain forest allows them to live most of their lives away from lakes or rivers, but most species must still visit water bodies to deposit their eggs. After being deposited in the water, the eggs eventually hatch into aquatic tadpoles, who then slowly metamorphose into fully formed frogs.
However, some tree frogs have evolved strategies that allow them to forgo descending to ground level for egg deposition. For example, some species deposit their eggs on leaves above water bodies, thereby allowing the eggs to slide gently into the water. Others deposit their eggs in saucer-like flowers that collect water.
Tree frogs require captive conditions that mimic their rain forest home. While the habitat need not look like a rain forest, it must provide the frogs with the appropriate temperatures, humidity levels and structural features.
Like all frogs, tree frogs have permeable skin, through which they absorb water, substances dissolved in water and gases. Accordingly, they are very sensitive to environmental pollutants. They must be careful to avoid desiccation, as water quickly evaporates from their bodies in windy, dry or hot conditions.
Different tree frog species require different temperatures, so research the exact needs of your pet to provide a proper thermal environment. Many species will thrive at room temperature, but you must elevate the cage temperatures for some species by using a heat lamp or heating pad. Always monitor the temperatures with a digital thermometer.
Although some are occasionally active during the day (especially when it rains), most tree frogs in the rain forest are nocturnal. During the day, they either hide in some lofty tree crevice, or hunker down in the open, where they rely on their camouflage to escape the detection of predators. This fact proves disappointing for many first-time owners of red-eyed tree frogs (Agalychnis callidryas); instead of walking around, showing off their impressive coloration, they spend their days tucked up, mimicking a leaf, with all of their orange, red and purple areas concealed.
If you wish to observe your frog while he is active, use a red light to illuminate the cage at night. The red glow will not disturb your frog and will encourage him to behave as he would in darkness.
While many tadpoles subsist on aquatic algae, plants and detritus, all adult frogs are carnivores who consume living animals. Most species thrive on a varied, insect-based diet, consisting of crickets, roaches, mealworms and other commercially reared feeder insects. Always offer your frog suitably sized prey that is no longer than the distance between your frog’s eyes. Most frogs require one to two dozen feeder insects per week.
Tree frogs greedily will consume any creature small enough to overpower, including other tree frogs. Accordingly, avoid housing frogs of different sizes together.