If you fancy keeping an exotic pet as well as tropical fish in an interesting biotope setup, you might want to consider the Green Tree Frog. These small, bright green, tree-dwelling frogs are relatively easy to care for and are hugely entertaining to watch, too.
Read this guide to learn all you need to know about caring for the American Green Tree Frog.
What Is An American Green Tree Frog?
The name, American Green Tree frog, is something of a confusing misnomer in that the Green Tree frogs you find for sale in pet stores are actually American Tree frogs. Hyla cinerea is a readily available, easy-to-care-for frog that can make a great pet. The African Tree frog is a totally different species.
How Big Do American Green Tree Frogs Grow?
American Green Tree frogs typically reach 4 to 6 inches in length when fully mature.
American Green Tree Frog Lifespan
These frogs can live for over six years if kept in a suitable environment and fed a nutritious, balanced diet.
American Green Tree frogs come from the Southeastern US, ranging from eastern Virginia to Florida and west as far as Texas.
As their name suggests, these bright green frogs are arboreal, spending their time in trees among dense foliage. The frogs’ huge eyes and perpetually smiling mouths give them a comical, cute appearance that makes them very appealing pets.
Green Tree frogs should not be handled, as they are very timid and don’t appreciate being picked up. Although you can eventually teach your frog to accept being held, they generally don’t like it. Also, the frog’s porous skin is very delicate, and coming in contact with the secretions from your skin can damage the frog and transfer toxins from your skin to the frog.
If you do need to handle your pet frog, be sure to wash your hands afterward.
A crucial point to note is that this species of frog is nocturnal. Male Green Tree frogs are especially lively at night, and Green Tree frog vocalizations can be very noisy. So, you don’t want to keep them in your bedroom unless you suffer from insomnia!
Do not house these Green Tree frogs with other species. Some frog species can become extremely stressed in the company of other frogs, and many have significant differences in temperature and care requirements.
American Green Tree Frog Care Guide
In this section of our guide to the American Green Tree frog, you can learn how to care for these beautiful, fun pets.
What Do Green Tree Frogs Eat?
American Green Tree Frogs are insectivores, eating only live food. To keep your frogs in peak condition and thriving, you need to feed them earthworms, wax worms, fruit flies, moths, house flies, and gut-loaded crickets, all of which you can buy at a pet store that stocks food for exotics.
Never feed your frogs insects that you’ve taken from the wild environment. There’s a considerable risk in doing so in that those creatures often contain parasites and harbor diseases that could make your frogs sick.
Preparing Food For Your Frogs
Anything that you feed your frog should be gut-loaded. That means you need to provide the food items a nutritious diet a day before you want to feed them to your frog. When choosing food for the frogs, be careful not to select prey items that are too large for the frog’s mouth. As a general rule, crickets should not be larger than the space between your frog’s eyes or the distance from its nose to its eyes.
If possible, make sure that the crickets have molted. That’s because an insect still covered with a large, hard exoskeleton is very difficult for your frog to eat and digest and could cause serious digestive problems.
It will benefit the frog if you dust the food with a calcium and multivitamin supplement a couple of times every week.
Where To Feed Your Frogs
Many amphibian keepers prefer to feed their frogs in a separate tank.
By using a dedicated feeding enclosure that’s free from bedding and decorations, you can be sure that your pets have eaten all the food you’ve provided. The insects and other prey can’t hide from the frogs, and the frogs won’t accidentally eat any bedding by mistake. Be extremely careful when handling your frogs to move them. Green Tree frogs are extremely delicate, and you can easily tear their skin if you handle them roughly.
How Often Should I Feed My American Green Tree Frog?
Green Tree frogs tend to eat more during the spring and summer months than during the winter.
Small frogs should be fed every day, while larger frogs can be fed every day or on alternate days.
How Much Should I Feed My Frogs?
You should offer your frog three to four crickets per feeding. Be careful not to overfeed your frogs! These creatures are opportunistic feeders in the wild, and they can quickly become overweight, which is very bad for the frogs’ health.
If your frogs do get too fat, try reducing their food a little or perhaps provide them with more space to move around.
What About Water?
Although frogs are amphibious, the American Green Tree frog is not a particularly good swimmer. For that reason, you must provide a shallow water dish that won’t tip over. Fill the container with dechlorinated water.
Frogs live in a humid environment, absorbing moisture from the air through their porous skin. So, to keep the tank humid, mist the frog’s habitat daily using a spray bottle filled with dechlorinated water. The frogs will most likely drink from water droplets on the tank walls or plant leaves.
Creating The Perfect Habitat
Like all wild creatures, the American Green Tree frog does best when kept in an environment replicating its natural habitat.
The minimum tank size for a Green Tree frog terrarium is 10 gallons, although a larger space is preferable.
Since these frogs spend most of their time living in trees, cage height is more important than floor space. So, for that reason, we recommend that you choose a tall tank rather than a long one.
As these arboreal frogs are excellent climbers, you need to securely fit a piece of mesh across the top of the tank to prevent escape attempts!
Green Tree frogs must be able to climb to remain happy, healthy, and thriving. So, equip the tank with plenty of plants and branches. You can use artificial vegetation, too, if you want to.
If you decide to gather wood from your local area or garden, make sure that the wood is not contaminated with pesticides. Also, you’ll need to sanitize or treat the wood to get rid of harmful bacteria and any parasites that might be living in it. You can also use cork bark and driftwood to furnish the habitat.
Many tropical frog species require heating in their cage. However, the American Green Tree frog is different. Your frogs should be fine as long as the temperature doesn’t fall below 65° F at night. If the temperature gets lower than that, you’ll need to add supplemental ceramic or infrared heating.
In fact, these frogs’ temperature needs are similar to yours; they do best in a range of temperatures from 70° to 75° F. American Green Tree frogs are cold-blooded creatures, meaning that they need to self-regulate their internal body temperature. To do that, the frogs move around their habitat to find warm spots. It can be helpful to put a ceramic heater at one end of the tank or in a corner. The frogs can then gravitate to that area when they need to warm up.
Humidity must be maintained at around 50 to 60 percent in the frog’s tank during daylight hours and spiking at 80 to 100 percent at night when the frogs are active. Humidity levels must never drop below 50 percent.
As mentioned earlier, you can achieve that by misting the cage every day with dechlorinated water. Use a humidity gauge or hygrometer to monitor the moisture levels in the frogs’ enclosure. If you’re not around to manually mist the frogs’ cage during the daytime, invest in an automated fogger device that you can set on a timer.
These frogs are entirely nocturnal, spending most of the daytime sleeping and becoming active at night. That said, the tank must have a day/night cycle so that the frog’s biorhythms remain stable. Also, your plants will need between eight and ten hours of light per day for photosynthesis.
A UVB fluorescent light tube (5.0) can be beneficial for the frogs, as that helps the frog to metabolize calcium.
The best choice of bedding or lining for your frogs’ habitat is a coconut fiber mat or some reptile carpet. These items are safe, economical, and easy to maintain. You can wash the liners, and your frogs won’t accidentally eat them, which can happen if you use wood or paper bedding.
However, you can use organic soil, cypress mulch, smooth gravel, moss, or cork bark if you prefer. Gravel can be boiled every week to sanitize it, but that’s a big job. Also, your frogs might ingest some of the substrates with their food. So, all in all, we recommend that you use either coconut fiber mat or reptile carpet as bedding for your pets.
The best plants for your terrarium habitat are those that thrive in the frogs’ preferred climate.
So, you need high humidity, temperatures in the high 70s F, and low light levels. When choosing plants, double-check that they are not toxic to the frogs, such as philodendrons or robust species of ferns.
You’ll need to do regular tank cleanings every week.
Do not use detergent or soap! Chemicals could kill your frogs. Either wash your hands in clean, soap-free water or wear latex-free gloves. Remove the frogs from their enclosure very gently at cleaning time, placing the creatures in a small, clean container.
Remove everything from the frogs’ tank and give it a good scrub under hot water. Rinse the tank, too. Don’t use any form of soap or detergent to clean your frogs’ tank or decorations.
Use washable liners for the cage bedding. That could be in the form of reptile carpeting or coconut matting that can be washed in a gentle laundry detergent, provided that you rinse the liner thoroughly in cool, clean water. It’s handy to have two tank liners so that you have a spare one ready for use when one is being cleaned.
Health And Disease
As with most frogs and other amphibians, fungal and bacterial skin infections can be common problems for American Green Tree frogs. Watch out for reddened skin, pus, or swelling, which are signs of disease. Sometimes, if the humidity levels in the tank are inadequate, your frog might suffer from respiratory ailments.
Watch out for general lethargy, wheezy breathing, and drooling, all of which can indicate a respiratory problem.
If your frog is not eating properly but is otherwise okay, it might have a parasitic infection. Generally, you need a specialist exotics veterinarian to check your frog. A fecal sample will show if the frog has a parasitic overload.
Pet frogs can be susceptible to ammonia poisoning, which can quickly kill your frogs. Ammonia poisoning happens when organic waste builds up in the enclosure, and you can prevent that from happening by cleaning your pet’s tank every week.
Reassuringly, all the common ailments that can affect American Green Tree frogs are easily treatable, provided that you quickly get your frog to a specialist vet.
Although it can appear quite alarming, it’s perfectly normal for frogs to shed their skin periodically.
During the shedding process, the frog might puff up his body or crouch awkwardly as he tries to loosen his skin, convulsing as if he’s having a coughing fit. Once the frog skin is shed, your frog will eat it; the skin contains lots of nutrients that the frog is keen to take advantage of!
Insufficient tank humidity can inhibit shedding. So, make sure to spray the tank lightly twice every day, especially during shedding. Mist the tank in the morning and again in the afternoon, ensuring that the spray has dried completely before the lights go out for the night.
What If The Skin Doesn’t Shed Completely?
Sometimes, the frog’s skin doesn’t come off completely. The skin can remain stuck to the creature’s head or toes, refusing to come away.
Don’t handle the frog yourself and attempt to pull off the skin as you could tear the new skin. Instead, see your veterinarian. After holding your frog to move him into a separate container for transport to the vet, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly.
How To Choose An American Green Tree Frog
Now that you’ve decided to go ahead and get yourself an American Green Tree Frog, you’ll need to make sure that you buy a healthy one.
It’s better not to buy a wild-caught frog. Many native tree frog species are in decline in the wild, and they also can carry diseases. So, your best bet is to get a locally captive-bred frog from a reputable breeder. Ask the breeder to show you proof that the frog has been tested and is free from disease.
Where To Buy An American Green Tree Frog
If you connect with another frog owner online, you might get a recommendation for a good breeder. Specialist exotics vets are usually a good source of information regarding good breeders. Also, if you can find a reptile expo to visit, that’s often a great place to find amphibians on display and for sale. You can expect to pay around $10 for a frog.
What To Look For
When choosing a frog, you want one that appears alert. The frog’s eyes should be clear and bright, and the skin should be clear of blemishes and cuts.
Ideally, you need to watch the frog feed. Frogs are opportunistic eaters, grabbing whatever food comes their way immediately. So, if the frog refuses to eat or seems disinterested in food, you know that there’s a serious problem.
Lethargic frogs and those frogs that appear bloated or have trouble breathing should be avoided.
American Green Tree frogs are fun, quirky pets that are relatively easy to look after.
Like all exotic creatures, including tropical fish, frogs need weekly maintenance to thrive and remain healthy. Also, frogs are carnivorous, exclusively eating a diet of live food. So, if you’re at all squeamish, a frog might not be the best choice of pet for you.
Do you have pet frogs? If you do, tell us all about your pets in the comments box below.