4 Awesome Amphibians You Can Keep As Pets
Updated: May 3, 2020
Just like humans, the amphibians and reptiles we keep today all evolved from one common amphibian ancestor a few hundred million years ago. If it wasn't for that split from the main ancestor then we wouldn’t have the cool little pets we can keep today! Thank you, nature! Here’s our picks for 4 of the awesome amphibians you can keep as a pet!
1 - The Pacman Frog The pacman frog obviously gets its name from the 80s gaming legend, Pacman. This is because of its massive mouth. These guys are great for beginner frog owners despite them being one of very few types of frogs that have teeth! They grow to about 8 inches long at adulthood and can live for up to 5 years. These chunky guys should be kept alone in their own space, which should be a terrarium that’s at least 10 gallons. It also needs a screened lid. Set up the terrarium bottom with 2 to 4 inches of either coconut fiber or bark bedding and he’ll enjoy burrowing in it. Make sure to clean up after his droppings frequently and change out the whole bedding monthly. Keep the terrarium stocked with appropriate live plants and some store bought branches so he can hide. He also needs a shallow bowl of water that’s large enough for him to sit in.
For heat, use an under tank heat pad or a heat light with a capable thermometer inside to keep track of temperatures. Speaking of which, you’re aiming for between 75F and 85F during the day, and between 65F and 75F at night. Tank humidity should be between 50% and 80%, the live plants will help regulate this. You can use a hygrometer to keep track of the moisture in your tank. Pacman frogs are nocturnal so they’re more active at night. They don’t require sunlight but they need a form of lighting that will mimic day and night in their habitat, if you’ve got a dim room then equip them with a fluorescent bulb and keep it on for 12 hours a day. At night, you can opt for a night specific bulb to keep an eye on your pet with minimum disturbance. Feed your pacman frog every 2 to 3 days a tasty diet of crickets, silkworms and occasionally mealworms or wax worms. On the topic of food, pacman frogs need Vitamin D and Calcium, to make sure they’re getting this then go for crickets that are gut-loaded. This means they’re fed a commercially available, nutrient dense diet. When your frog eats them they’ll get the nutrients from them too. For the calcium, dust the insects twice a week with supplemental calcium to help bone growth.
Only feed them an amount they can eat overnight, if you find insects in the terrarium in the morning then feed them less next time.
Bacterial and fungal infections of the skin and eyes are among the most common ailments of amphibians, and the Pacman frog is no exception. Any redness, swelling or pus is a sign of an infection. Although less common in frogs than in other reptiles and amphibians, a Pacman frog kept in an enclosure without enough humidity may develop a respiratory infection. This is marked by wheezing, drooling and lethargy. Pacman frogs also are susceptible to parasitic infections. If your tank temperatures are warm enough to rule out them cutting down on food due to sluggishness but your frog still isn't eating well, bring your frog to an experienced exotics vet to rule out parasitism. A yearly fecal sample should also be checked to make sure your frog doesn't have an overgrowth of normal parasites. Also be on the lookout for ammonia poisoning. This potentially fatal condition occurs when waste in an animal's enclosure is not properly cleaned. All of these conditions can be treated by a veterinarian if detected early enough. Choosing Your Pacman Frog When deciding on a Pacman frog as a pet, you should look for an active, alert animal that has clear eyes and whose skin looks free of blemishes. If you are able to watch it eat before deciding, that's ideal; rarely will a Pacman frog refuse food unless it's ill. If the Pacman frog you're interested in seems lethargic or is having trouble breathing, or if its abdomen seems bloated, these may be signs of illness. The best bet for acquiring a Pacman frog is via a reputable breeder, who can give you a complete health history on your potential pet. Captive-bred Pacman frogs are the better option because they're less likely to be exposed to parasites and other ailments that wild-caught frogs may have. 2 - Yellow and Black Dart Frog The yellow and black dart frog, commonly known as the poison dart frog is a small frog from southern america. They’re used to very humid tropical rainforests so their humidity needs to be high. They’ll grow to around 2 inches for females and slightly less for males and are an excellent display pet because of their intense bright hue. In the wild, these little guys are poisonous, however that’s not the case in captivity. The reason for this is their diet. In the wild they eat ants and poisonous plants which then give them the poisonous attribute, but they don't get this diet in captivity. Keep these little guys in a tall terrarium of at least 10 gallons per frog, but keeping them in groups is fine for this species. The reason you need this space for a little frog is that you’ll want to fill this up with plants to create a little ecosystem. Set up their tank with a drainage layer under the soil which will stop the soil from becoming too saturated. Then as the frogs create waste, that will feed the plants which allows them to grow. All you’ll really need to do is add food and cut plants as they grow too large. Keep the colours all together though, don’t mix different species as they occur in different places in the wild and have different levels of aggression.
Your terrarium for this frog needs a glass lid, the reason for this instead of a mesh is because it’ll help keep your humidity in place much easier - these little guys need upwards of 80% humidity! Temperatures should stay between 70F and 80F. Add some lighting to help keep the tank warm and if you’re struggling to get to 75F then install an under tank heat mat. Poison dart frogs will eat fruit flies, springtails, isopods, rice flour beetles, phoenix worms and other small bugs. You’ll want to dust these with a multivitamin and calcium supplement every other feeding. You can expect these frogs to live to between 10 and 15 years.
In their fairly long life for a pet, your poison dart frog may experience some illnesses, for example is your frog doesn't eat, loses weight, is listless, has lumps or other irregularities on the skin then this may be a bacterial infection. Treat with BAYTRIL by putting 8 drops in 125ml tepid water. Put a lid on the dish and make sure the frog's head stays above the water. Duration: 15 min, each day for 6 days. If they're Listless, often found in water or hiding, watery droppings then this could be parasites in their intestine. Parasites are always present in the intestines, but they will cause problems when the animal is weak. Treat with vitamins and FLAGALEX. 1drop on 8 drops of tepid water, one drop on back of frog. Duration: each day for 6 days. Treatment for the vivarium: 1ml per 5 liters of water; use this to spray the vivarium. Be careful as overdoses can be deadly for the frogs. Use the right dosage! If the previous case sounds about right but there's no watery droppings this could still be parasites in the intestine, however the treatment may be different. Treat with PANACUR. 25mg/kg body weight. Dissolve and drop on frog's back for at least 10 days. If they Acts spasmodic, is active but loses weight, dry skin this could indicate worms. Treat with: LEVAJECT/LEVADERM/LEVAMISOL. 1 drop in 3 drops of tepid water, Drop water on frog's back, then put one drop on it's back. Treat for 7 days.
3 - Axolotl Axolotls are strange amphibians because they can reach adulthood without needing to metamorphosize the same way a frog does. They live their entire lives under water, never emerging on to land despite having arms and legs. They’re hardy, easy to care for and care requirements are quite minimal. They’ve been known to live past 20 years, but it’s hard to find one older than 10. These guys are great display pets as they’re really unique looking and they’ll live happily in an aquarium! You will need an aquarium on the larger side as they’ll grow up to a foot long - we recommend a 25 gallon / 95 litre tank or higher to combat the waste produced by them. Having a larger tank with lots of live plants will help keep on top of imbalances in the water, you should also test their aquarium water weekly with an API Master Test Kit. You will need to cycle the tank as if you were keeping fish, we’ve got a guide on that over on our fish section that you can read here.
For a filter we recommend a canister filter equipped with a spray bar to give surface agitation which will aid oxygen levels. Axolotls do not like a current, so having a submerged filter will cause them stress over a longer period and they’ll eventually go off their food as well as develop stress related diseases. Lighting is for your benefit only, as like most amphibians, they do not require lighting and new ones may even by shy if kept under bright lights. You should equip the aquarium with some hiding places for them, the typical caves, wood and plants for aquariums will do the trick. Choose a plant friendly bulb to keep your live plants happy and keep in mind that a lot of lights can generate plenty of excess heat which will be detrimental to your axolotl. Temperatures above 74F should be avoided as this will lead to heat stress, axolotls prefer temperatures around the low to mid 60s.
Axolotls have a bad habit of ingesting aquarium gravel, so you should opt for aquarium sand instead. If sand isn’t aesthetically for you, then opt for a large substrate such as pebbles instead, anything up to the size of your axolotl’s head can and will be consumed! Substrate isn’t actually vital - some axolotl keepers don’t use any, but having a substrate will be beneficial for your tanks cycling process and will be a great place for beneficial bacteria to build up which will help keep on top of ammonia and nitrite within the tank. Keep on top of regular water checks and once your Nitrates reach 30ppm, conduct a 30% water change. For food, you can cook up some frozen shrimp from the supermarket or even lean pieces of beef or chicken. Traditional aquarium foods for them include night crawlers (large earthworms) and frozen bloodworm cubes. You won’t need to give them vitamin supplements and avoid live food as axolotls are more susceptible to parasites and diseases from their food. Axolotls have no actual bones in their bodies, their skeleton is mostly made up of cartilage. As such, they’re delicate and they’ve also got permeable skin which means they shouldn’t ever be handled unless absolutely necessary. If you’re needing to move them, use a net with a very fine meshed, soft net. Regular nets often have holes big enough for your axolotl’s fingers to get trapped in and damaged.
Fish shouldn’t be kept with your axolotl at all. Older axolotl’s, larger than around 5 inches tend to be safer tank mates but young ones do tend to be nippy and if you’re keeping several together expect to see some carnage as legs and gills are bitten off. They don’t benefit from having tank mates as they aren’t social animals. There’s no need for a tank mate other than for your own benefit or for breeding. 4 - The Fire Bellied Toad The oriental fire-bellied toad originates from areas in korea and north east china and are a semi-aquatic frog which means they live both in the water and on land. They’re easy to spot due to their bright green colouration on the top side with bright yellow and orange underneath. They also have patterns of black spots and stripe which contrast with the colours to make them look even more interesting. They’re quite small, only growing to around 2 inches and can be expected to live for around 15 years with proper care. We’d recommend a terrarium that’s around 15 gallons per 3 toads and you’ll need to build up both a water environment for them and a land one. They can be escape artists, so make sure there’s a secure lid. For temperatures you’ll want to stay between 70F and 75F during the day, but night time temps can drop to low 60s. They won’t need a basking light as they tolerate the cold just fine. Humidity will need to have around 50%-80% humidity, but the 50/50 water to land ratio will help achieve and maintain this with minimal misting on the sides of the tank.
Offer them a variety of insects in their diet such as small crickets and mealworms and dust these guys off with repti calcium and reptivite, reading the instructions on the back of the packaging. These toads do well in groups when you give them the proper set up and free space. Give them a bunch of live plants to hide around and explore, this will also help maintain humidity. Breeding these toads is quite easy even for first time breeders. You can expect to produce around 60 to 80 eggs on the first attempt. Older frogs with more experienced breeders can create up to two hundred eggs! Tadpoles will start to hatch at around 3 days and after around a month they’ll complete their metamorphosis! When they hatch you’ll see them clinging to the sides of the tank or to vegetation and they’ll consume their stored yolk to feed on. When they become free swimming you can start to feed them a powdered tropical fish flake. Thanks for reading our guide on Dart Frogs! We've recently expanded our social media into Facebook and Instagram as well as pinterest, please give us a follow/like! :) Happy pet owning!
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