4 More Awesome Amphibians You can Keep As Pets (part 2)
From the popularity of our “4 Amphibians you can keep as pets!” post, we’ve decided to expand on it! Did you know that amphibians can give us a whole range of peptides, which help science discover a range of medical cures for many illnesses and diseases? These cures are already being used for things like painkillers, high blood pressure medication and even HIV medication! Despite their importance, around 40% of amphibian species are threatened with extinction.
There might not be a lot the average person can do to help with this, other than donating to foundations that are trying to prevent it from happening. However, if you think amphibians are cool (they definitely are) then there’s a whole bunch of them you can keep in your home! Amphibians make great eye-catching pets that are sure to spice up any room you put them in, they’re also characters in of themselves and aren’t too hard to look after!
Let’s start with the Red-Eyed Tree Frog. Famous for its vibrant green skin, it features bright blue accents on its legs and ribs and has yellow bands running down its sides. In contrast to the green are its huge red eyes for which it gets its name. They make excellent display pets due to how colourful they are! They grow to around 3 inches at max length but average around 2 inches and they can live up to 5 years in captivity.
Red-eyed tree frog belongs to the family Hylidae (tree frogs). It can be found in the wild in southern parts of Mexico, Central America and in the northern parts of South America. Red-eyed tree frogs inhabit lowland tropical rainforests and major threats for the survival of these guys in the wild are habitat loss (due to accelerated deforestation) and climate change. Luckily, the number of red-eyed tree frogs in the wild is still large and stable so these animals are not on the list of endangered species.
To bring a red-eyed tree frog home you’re going to need an enclosure for it. Glass terrariums are great at allowing heat to escape, which ensures that the enclosure stays cool enough. Because of this, your red-eyed tree frogs will be a great match for a glass terrarium. Wooden enclosures such as the ones we recommend for snakes are insulators so they keep the heat in, something that snakes need.
In terms of sizes, we recommend at least a 450mm wide by 600mm tall terrarium. It needs to be big enough for your frogs to hop around and explore but it also needs to be taller as frogs are arboreal animals meaning that they like to climb and live their lives in trees. By getting a taller terrarium this will give you space to add plants and tree decorations which mean that your little hopper friends will be able to explore new heights!
To read more about Red Eyed Tree Frogs including their heating, feeding and even breeding guides, click here to read our Ultimate Care Guide.
African Clawed Frog
The xenopus clawed frog is also known more commonly as the African clawed frog and it’s a species that originates from sub-saharan Africa. In recent years they have been introduced to North America, South America and Europe and they make great pets. They’ve got no teeth nor a tongue and they’re completely aquatic so the care and housing is similar to that of an axolotl. This makes them a great addition to partially submerged or aquatic enclosures. Their most prominent feature is how they get their name. It’s the split in the webbing on their feet and hands which gives the appearance of having large claws. On average these frogs will grow to around 5 inches and live 10-15 years, however there’s instances of them living in captivity for 25 years, however these instances are quite rare.
In terms of care, the African clawed frog is one of the easiest frogs to actually care for, the main reason being that they’re completely aquatic so a small-sized aquarium will suit their needs perfectly. Not only can you keep them in a smaller sized home, but they also eat nearly anything you place in front of them. They’re hardy and widely available online and in pet stores. African clawed frogs are an interesting species and great for beginners.
In captivity, African clawed frogs can live up to 30 years. Adults can grow up to 4 – 5 inches and they’re incredibly hardy; Some keepers have reported them surviving for days and weeks without food, but obviously, don’t allow your pet to do this. Also, this species is often confused and mislabeled as an African Dwarf Frog in pet stores. They’re very similar in appearance but have some small differences such as not having webbed front feet and having eyes on top of their heads.
The African Clawed frog has eyes at the top of their heads and they’re constantly looking above the water and scavenging for food. There’s a lateral line system that spans the length of their body which gives them an ability to sense movement. This in addition to their sensitive fingers makes them pretty adept at locating a range of food sources!
As mentioned above, they eat almost anything and they’ll use their claws to shred organic matter (things like dead fish). They are currently the only amphibians that are known for doing this!
Tank Set Up
Because this species is fully aquatic, an aquarium is absolutely the best option for caging them but we’ve seen large DIY tanks with 50% full water at the bottom with a shelf built up to house semi aquatic species! These look very cool, but aren’t recommended for beginners. You can go as big as you like for the aquarium, and bigger means easier to manage in terms of water cleanliness and checking for impurities, but a 10-gallon tank is considered the minimum for one African clawed frog. Stay clear of tanks with no lid - you can use a screen mesh if you want but this species has been known to propel themselves out of tanks without a lid.
So, you’ll need a decent sized tank with at least a screen lid on it, but what else? We suggest using medium sized gravel substrate and placing several hiding places in there such as ornaments and either artificial or live plants. We also suggest using a filtration system such as a bubble filter if you plan on breeding your frogs in the future, or a submersible filter if not. You’ll need to cycle your tank prior to buying your frog, the same as you’d do with aquarium fish (you can read our guide on how to do that here).
To read more about the African Clawed Frog, including their full tank needs, feeding needs and breeding needs, click here to read our ultimate care guide on them!
Budgett’s frogs are also known as the Paraguay horned frog, they’re very distinct in appearance and they come from areas in Southern America including Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Bolivia. Typically they are a light olive green colour and they can have some light grey or yellow mottling on areas of their skin. They will grow to around 4-5 inches in length so they’re not the smallest frogs we’ve written guides for, with females growing larger than males. They have a rounded flattened body with eyes quite high on their head giving them a strange shapeless appearance. They are highly intelligent but be warned that they’re generally aggressive. They’re also completely aquatic so their set up is similar to that of axolotls and the African Clawed frog.
The Budgett’s frog is becoming increasingly popular as pets. They also go by Hippo Frogs and another name for them is the Freddy Krueger frog, due to their long fingers and aggressive behaviour. They’ll live for 15 to 20 years in captivity. Visually they’re pretty easy to identify due to the funny looking appearance. They’re large bodied, big mouthed and pretty silly looking, making them an unusual looking pet sure to grab attention from guests and make good conversation starters.
During the wet season, these frogs are sit-and-wait predators found feeding and breeding in temporary pools formed by heavy rains. Their large, flattened, gray-colored bodies are marked with irregular olive spots that become a more apparent reddish-brown color after dark. Their undersides are pale cream to white in coloration and unmarked. Their limbs are short and their hind feet webbed; their eyes are positioned on top of the head, allowing them to rest in shallow water with just their eyes protruding above the surface, waiting for unsuspecting prey to pass by. Younger specimens have a green coloration that surrounds the eye and extends down the back as additional camouflage. This usually fades away in adults but is kept by some.
As the winter nears and the pools dry up, Budgett’s use their hard, metatarsal tubercle spade to burrow into the mud, where they avoid desiccation during the dry months by encasing themselves in multiple layers of dry skin. They remain cocooned like this until the warm rains return, allowing them to come back to the surface to feed and breed once again.
Okay so moving on to the care of them and despite being so large, Budgett’s frogs do not require huge enclosures. This is a big advantage when maintaining more than one of these frogs, as their aggressive nature means that they should ideally be kept separately to avoid potential cannibalism. If you want to keep more than one, go for small tanks you can keep together. We’ve seen setups where the filtration system treats the different tanks as one tank, and another, larger tank has all the filtration systems set up. Juveniles are especially cannibalistic and won’t hesitate to eat tankmates. Adults show less of a tendency to cannibalize, and adult animals of similar size may be kept together successfully if well fed. However, the risk is always present.
If you want to read more about the Budgett’s frog, including tank needs, food needs and breeding techniques then click here to read our Ultimate Care Guide on them!
Lastly, the Pixie Frog. The Pixie frog is another … distinct… frog. They’re commonly referred to as the African Bull Frog which is probably a better suited name for it, as it’s the largest frog commonly found in South Africa. They live in open grassland and can be found there within shallow ponds and puddles, during the dry season they create burrows and live mostly underground similar to the budgett’s frog. This frog will eat insects, fish, mice, lizards and other frogs as well as anything else that will fit into it’s massive mouth! They can grow from 4-10 inches in length with males being larger than females and can weigh up to 2kg.
They are a dull green colour with yellow throats and a cream coloured underbelly. Pixie frogs can be expected to live 15-25 years under optimal conditions, and have been known to live over 30 years.
Tank Set Up
The set up for these large frogs is very simple as you can tell just by looking at them that they’re fairly inactive. This means that a single frog can be kept in a 15 gallon or larger tank, we recommend going as big as either your space or budget will allow as it makes cleaning up after them a lot easier. Pixie frogs will also utilize a large, easy to enter water dish for soaking, opt for something heavy such as porcelain or you’ll be refilling it every time your frog knocks it over. Moist coco fiber is an ideal substrate; there should be enough substrate to allow the frog to completely bury itself the way it would in its natural habitat.
Speaking of which, Giant African Bullfrogs are native to the savannahs of sub-Saharan Africa. They are best kept between 75-90 degrees F with a 5 degree drop at night. Coco fiber should be kept moist but not soaking and a vented or screen lid should be used so it doesn’t become too humid while also allowing air to flow - stagnant air can lead to bacterial infections among frogs. A low wattage incandescent light can be placed at one side of the screen lid to reach desired temperatures. If kept too dry, these frogs may enter a state of dormancy called aestivation while they wait for the “upcoming rainy season”.
To Learn more about the Pixie Frog, including feeding, breeding (Spoilers, they lay A LOT of eggs!) and some tips and tricks, click here to read our ultimate care guide!
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