Australian Green Tree Frogs (Litoria caerulea), also known as White's Tree Frogs, Dumpy Tree Frogs, or simply Green Tree Frog, are native to Australia and are popular pets among frog enthusiasts.
Green tree frogs have been described in various ways. Some compare them to Jabba the Hutt due to their voracious appetite and chubby appearance. Others find their smiling faces and friendly eyes to be endearing. While they can be incredibly gluttonous and eat almost anything, they always do so with an adorable tree frog expression that can captivate just about anyone. These charming attributes, combined with the frog's resilient nature and simple maintenance, have established the Green tree frog as one of the most popular amphibian pets.
They are known for their bright green color and their ability to climb and jump. If you are interested in keeping a Green Tree Frog as a pet, here is a comprehensive guide on how to care for them.
Green tree frogs are quite resilient and can adapt well to varying terrarium conditions. However, it's recommended to provide an 80-litre horizontal terrarium at minimum for four young frogs. As they love to climb, a taller terrarium that can accommodate larger climbing plants and branches is ideal if possible.
The terrarium should have a secure lid to prevent escapes and should be kept in a cool, shaded area away from direct sunlight and drafts.
While these treefrogs are social creatures, it's advisable not to keep very young (small) frogs with older individuals as they may display cannibalistic behavior.
Adult Green tree frogs can reach up to 13cm, but most females only reach 10-11.5cm from snout to vent length. Males are typically smaller. Green tree frogs are very difficult to sex as they appear very similar and the differences may not be apparent in younger frogs. Males have a vocal sac, and can have dark nuptial pads on the base of their thumbs.
In captivity, these frogs can live over 20 years, but more commonly live for 7-10 years. In the wild, their lifespan would typically be shorter due to the risk of predation as they have no natural defensive capabilities other than camouflage.
Heating and Lighting
Green Tree Frogs are mainly active during the night but they do get some exposure to natural sunlight. When kept in captivity, it has been observed that not providing them with ultraviolet (UV) light can lead to metabolic bone disease as well as stunted and deformed growth.
However, as these frogs only require low levels of UVB lighting, it is crucial to select the right spectrum globe for them. A Reptile One UVB 2.0 globe, ExoTerra UVB 100 globe, or any globe with similarly low UVB ratings is recommended. These lights can also promote plant growth, but is best to be used in combination with a globe such as the ExoTerra Natural Light if you're aiming for the best plant growth.
It is important to avoid using high UVB output globes such as a 10.0 UVB rating as the UVB output is too high and can cause serious harm or death to your frogs. Providing 10 hours of light per day is sufficient. If you plan to breed the frogs, you may need to adjust the day length according to the seasons.
A daytime temperature of around 26°C is ideal, which can be maintained by a heat mat and thermostat combo. It is generally best practice to place the heat mat on the back or side of the terrarium, rather than underneath. This is due to a Green tree frog's behavior to burrow itself into the substrate if they are too hot or dry (low humidity).
Lowering the temperature slightly at night will mimic natural temperature fluctuations. Also, make sure to use a well-ventilated lid that fits tightly to prevent respiratory issues.
Green Tree Frogs require a substrate that can hold moisture but does not mold or cause respiratory problems. Coconut fiber, sphagnum moss, and peat moss are all suitable substrates. The substrate should be at least 5 centimeters deep and should be misted daily to maintain humidity levels.
Green Tree Frogs require clean and fresh water to swim and soak in. A shallow water dish should be provided, and the water should be changed daily to prevent bacterial growth. You can also mist the terrarium daily to maintain humidity levels and provide your frog with an opportunity to drink.
Green Tree Frogs require enrichment to keep them stimulated and healthy. Provide your frog with a variety of climbing opportunities, such as branches, vines, and plants. Live plants, such as pothos and bromeliads, can also help maintain humidity levels and provide hiding spots for your frog. Do not use toxic plants or sharp or pointed decorations that could harm your frog.
Green Tree Frogs are carnivorous and require a diet of live insects. Crickets, mealworms, and waxworms are all suitable options. Juvenile frogs should be fed every 1-2 days. Feed your adult frog 2-3 times a week, and dust the insects with calcium and vitamin D3 supplements to maintain their health.
Unlike most amphibians, Green Tree Frogs can be handled, but it is important to do so carefully and gently. When handling your frog, use wet hands to avoid damaging its sensitive skin. As their skin is delicate and permeable, be sure your hands are soap and cream free before handling. It is also important to support their entire body, as they can become stressed if handled improperly.
Wash your hands well after handling.
Keep an eye on your frog's health and behavior. If you notice any signs of illness or distress, consult with a veterinarian immediately. Signs of illness include lack of appetite, lethargy, abnormal behavior, and discoloration or sores on their skin.
Reproduction and Breeding
In their natural habitat, these frogs mate during the rainy season. This can be replicated in captivity using a rain chamber. Male and Female frogs meet at slow-moving water bodies and ponds. The male grasps the female behind the front arms. The female lays several hundred eggs that are fertilized by the male as they are produced. These eggs hatch within 2-3 days. In captivity, the tadpoles can be fed well on aquarium fish foods. Metamorphosis generally occurs within two months, although some tadpoles can remain in this stage for up to a year. Newly metamorphosed froglets can be quite small and need daily feeding with calcium-dusted fruit flies and pinhead crickets until they can consume staple foods like those mentioned earlier.
Keeping a Green Tree Frog can be a rewarding experience if you provide them with proper housing, substrate, water, enrichment, feeding, handling, and healthcare. Remember to do your research and learn as much as you can about these frogs before bringing one home. They require a significant amount of care and attention, and they are not suitable for everyone. If you are looking for a unique and interesting pet, a Green Tree Frog may be the perfect choice for you.