How to Care for Pet Frogs? Guide for Beginners
Frogs are one of the most unassuming animal species out there. They are amphibians, which means they can live in the water. Though they swim quite a lot, frogs still prefer living on solid ground.
Now, I don’t know why you’d want a pet frog but it’s not my place to judge. You do you. Frogs can be friendly pets, I guess. As long as you feed them, ensure the proper temperature and humidity, they’ll be happy.
I’m here to offer you a bit of background on frogs. What do they eat? Where do they live? What conditions must you provide for a pet frog? How do they reproduce? These sorts of things.
At the end of this article, you’ll know for a fact whether a pet frog is a good idea or not. Moreover, you’ll know what to feed your frog if and when you do get one.
Frogs are literally everywhere near bodies of water. You’ll find them throughout northern Europe, Ireland, Britain, and so on. They need a sustainable and cool breeding pond where they can reproduce and live out their lives.
Because frogs are amphibians and can breathe through their lungs or skin, they prefer a humid area. Watery habitats that retain their dampness during summer are preferable for these amphibians. Throughout the world, there are over 6500 different species of frogs.
When not breeding, frogs may even wander away from their breeding pond. Though, they won’t go beyond 500 meters from the pond. During the day, when it’s too hot, you’ll often find them swimming or sitting in the shade of the riverbank vegetation.
The sun isn’t really great for them, especially when the temperature is too high. During the winter, they retreat to their hives and wait out warmer periods. Though, frogs are quite resilient to cold temperatures.
Frogs also look for places to hide from predators, as well as avoid hot and cold temperatures. They may choose to burrow in the soft ground on the bank of a pond, where it’s moist and cozy.
In the summer, that place is always damp and cooler, while during the winter, the temperature is preserved. Usually, frogs look for shaded environments with lots of vegetation. Dampness, shade, coolness, and a nearby pond are everything frogs need to be happy and reproduce.
Food & Diet
Frogs are not picky eaters, fortunately. In their natural habitat, these amphibians eat almost anything that fits into their mouths. This includes:
- Crickets – The main meal of a frog. During the night, frogs become the most adept hunters and eat a load of crickets.
- Locust and grasshoppers – For nutritional variety, frogs also get a few nibbles of locusts and grasshoppers. Not that they realize it’s healthier to eat diverse. Whatever they catch, they eat.
- Mealworms and waxworms – This is a real delicacy for frogs. They rarely find worms to eat but when they do, it’s a real feast.
- Mice – Bigger frogs will also eat mice if they fit into their mouths. Field mice often fall prey to hunting frogs.
- Blackworms and blood worms
- Caterpillars and other worms – Again, not the easiest to find but quite delicious for frogs.
I recommend feeding your pet frog everything on this list for a more diverse diet. You can easily get most of these things from a pet store or fishing bait stores. Frogs will eat anything that’s not nailed to a wall and is tasty.
As long as they can fit into their mouths, it’s good. As a rule of thumb, don’t feed your frog food that’s bigger than its head. Otherwise, it may lead to intestinal problems.
It’s really interesting to watch a frog hunt its prey, especially the moment when it sends its tongue flying toward the prey. A frog’s tongue can snap back into its mouth in 15/100ths of a second. That’s so fast most animals won’t even see it.
The moment a frog’s tongue snaps from its mouth, the prey’s fate is already decided. What’s more, frogs have sticky tongues that immobilize the unwary prey. And there’s almost no way the prey can escape the frog’s mouth once inside.
While frogs generally maintain the insect population within optimal ranges, there have been situations when their unbridled diet led to mass hysteria. One such event took place in 1935 when cane toads were brought to stave off the massive population of sugarcane beetles in Australia.
Instead, the cane toads ate the native frogs, snakes, and other marsupials. Initially, only 102 cane toads reached Australia, but a 2010 study put them somewhere around 1.5 billion. They’d also spread to an area of 386,000 square meters.
A frog’s enclosure needs to be damp, moist, shaded, and spacious enough so the frog can move around. You also need a body of water because all frogs are amphibians. They can’t live without a pond or a body of water to build their nests around.
So, if you plan on buying a pet frog, be ready to build a fitting enclosure around a body of water. If you have a pond in your backyard, that’s a great start.
Frogs are nocturnal creatures so they don’t need sunlight. But they do need light in their terrarium or enclosure. Install a fluorescent lightbulb that mimics a day and night cycle of 12 hours.
During the night, I recommend using another lightbulb with less intensity, so the frogs aren’t disturbed. When they sleep, they don’t need a lot of light. In the wild, frogs only get moonlight during nighttime, and that’s when they hunt. During the day, they do their siesta, so they won’t need as much light.
Frogs will need around 70-100% humidity in their enclosure, plus a load of plants and vegetation to maintain the moisture and shade. The more frogs you have, the bigger the enclosure should be. Only ventilate the enclosure for a few hours during the day.
Add climbing branches and live plants, with a moist substrate to maintain the overall humidity. You can use moist paper towels, sphagnum moss, potting soil, peat moss, coconut husks, and other moist materials.
I advise you to use a hygrometer to keep the humidity level in check. Without proper humidity, frogs will dehydrate and may even die. You should also spray the enclosure regularly with non-chlorinated water.
Include a bowl of water or, preferably, install a body of water in the enclosure. If you keep the frogs in a terrarium, make sure the moisture is more than enough (about 70-100%).
The temperature in the terrarium should always be kept between 75- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit. Or the frog dies. Basically, anything that deviates from the frog’s natural habitat conditions has a chance of killing it mercilessly. Not enough humidity? Frog dies. Too hot or too cold in the enclosure? Frog suffers and dies.
During the night, you can lower the temperature by 10 degrees, which means a minimum of 65 Fahrenheit.
A thermometer is great in this sense. You’ll always have a grasp on the internal temperature in the enclosure. In my opinion, a ceramic heater or a light fixture are the best tools for the job.
Turn it on during the day, lower the temperature during the night, and your frog lives happily ever after. Until it dies, that is. Frogs only live for approximately 4-10 years. Depending on their living conditions and overall health, they’ll easily live past 7 years.
As I said before, a frog’s substrate can contain potting soil, peat moss, sphagnum moss, moist paper towels, or even coconut husks. In any case, you can choose any material that efficiently retains moisture and humidity.
Occasionally spray the substrate with water to replenish the moisture and all’s good. Your frog will thank you subtly and enjoy its sweet time in all that moisture. That’s about it when it comes to the substrate. You’re welcome.
Frogs breed in a most wonderful way – the male rides the female to a suitable place for laying the eggs, and then he fertilizes them. Initially, the courting process involves croaking, dancing, and attracting the attention of the females.
When the mating season begins, ponds get infested with male frogs croaking like crazy. These small amphibians try to impress the females by croaking as melodically as possible. When another male encroaches in their territory, a fight ensues. The males start vibrating by inflating their vocal cords and eventually, they enter a scuffle.
The winner gets to go to a female. If the female chooses him (the process is unknown), the male leaps on her back, and onward they go. Sometimes, a female can have more than one male on her back.
Eventually, only one will get to fertilize the eggs. Basically, after the female lays the eggs, the male sprays sperm all over them and that’s that. But occasionally, more males fertilize a female’s eggs.
Female frogs will choose a shaded, shallow pond that has enough vegetation to offer protection for the eggs. As the embryos grow up, the egg clusters will naturally float to the surface of the water.
Eventually, when all the eggs come together, they look like a jelly mat. The more frogspawn and jelly there are, the better. That’s because only 1 in 50 eggs hatch successfully.
Here are some interesting facts about frog breeding:
- Female frogs are larger than males – As they age, frogs get bigger, so when you see a big frog, it’s most likely the oldest one. With toads, the difference between male and female size is almost double, with females being able to carry around multiple males.
- When laid, the frogspawn is all-dark, similar to caviar. When it enters into prolonged contact with water, the frogspawn becomes jelly-like with only a black center. In about 8-10 days, the frogspawn should hatch successfully, though as I said, only 1 in 50 eggs hatch and lead to healthy frogs.
- During mating season, the male climbs on top of the female and clamps his inner feet around the female’s body. This hold is called an amplexus, and it involves the swelling of the inner fingers of the front feet, also called nuptial pads.
- The male on top of the female uses his hind legs to kick away other males. The entire thing happens in a few seconds, with the female laying her eggs and the male fertilizing them.
Frogs are one of nature’s most prolific species, and they make for great pets. Though, they’re not exactly cuddle-material, if you get my drift. Frogs are always moist on the surface layer of the skin because they always ooze humidity.
That’s how they retain their moisture and humidity during sunny days. Plus, they rarely leave their damp and moist nests. When they’re not swimming, frogs are either hunting or relaxing in the vegetation near lakes and water bodies.