Pet Tree Frog Guide: What You Need To Know

Written by A-Z Animals Staff
Updated: April 3, 2022
© Sophie


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Getting a pet tree frog — just like any pet — requires some preparation and forethought to ensure you’re ready to welcome your new friend into the family. Here is your pet tree frog owner’s guide to help you get set up for success!

Before Buying a Tree Frog

Before buying a tree frog, it is important to understand more about them. Like any pet, they have very specific needs for their habitat, feeding, and wellness. Although the frog itself can cost as little as $10, you can easily spend as much as $250 on their habitat setup and other starter supplies. These costs are before you even take your frog home for the first time.

You cannot just buy a tree frog as an impulse purchase and keep them in an empty fish tank. You need specific things ready for them, including their home, to ensure they can survive the transition into your household and to help them live a long, healthy life. In fact, when well cared for, these little smiling frogs can live as long as 15 years!

One of your biggest responsibilities as a pet tree frog owner is feeding the animal. These little amphibians are strict insectivores. This means you need to feed them live insects like crickets, grasshoppers, flies, and worms according to the frog’s species-specific diet. For nutrients not in their food, you also need to provide calcium and multivitamin supplements.

Despite having unique needs, tree frogs make great first-time pets. They are low maintenance when compared to other animals like dogs and cats. But you need to know they love to climb and will escape their tank if possible, then scaling the walls of your home with their sticky feet. This means they can easily get lost within your home and even escape to the outdoors, given the opportunity. They also have very loud mating calls that can keep you awake at night if you are a light sleeper.

You will spend most of your pet’s life admiring him or her through a glass vivarium, instead of handling them. It is critical to understand that they have sensitive skin and oils or residue on your skin can harm them. Otherwise, tree frogs are fun to watch and care for on a daily basis.

Australian Green tree frog on branch
The Australian green tree frog is one species that can be kept as an exotic pet.

How much does a tree frog cost?

You can adopt a tree frog for as little as $10 and as much as $50, depending on where you buy it. You may even be able to find a tree frog listed for free from a family needing to give away their pet. In national chain pet supply stores, local pet shops, and animal shelters, you will pay the lower end of the spectrum for your pet. Breeders typically charge the higher rates, closer to the $50 estimate.

Your tree frog’s habitat needs to keep the pet healthy and happy. To meet these goals, you need a stimulating, well-planted environment large enough for climbing on branches and driftwood. It also must offer both dry land and a wet pool in which the frog can soak. Tree frogs are not swimmers, so they only need a pool deep enough for sitting and submerging up to their head. The land portion of their habitat must have ground covering called substrate, usually coconut fiber, sphagnum moss, or bark. These animals also require fluorescent lighting from a light kit for 10 to 12 hours per day. You can buy a starter habitat kit with some or all of these items for between $25 to $100. A custom habitat will cost you anywhere from under $100 to $250 or more.

Maintenance costs for your pet frog will include food, fresh substrate, and vivarium cleaning supplies. Most veterinarians recommend cleaning the habitat weekly or every two weeks at most. To meet these needs and keep your pet well-fed, you will pay about $25 per month on the low end or as much as an occasional $500 if your pet needs veterinary care.

Together, all of these costs add up to a minimum of $150 in startup expenses, including the pet itself. Many people spend as much as $350 to start. Over the animal’s lifetime of 10 years, you will pay between $3,000 to $5,200 or more for monthly maintenance. That amount includes food, cleaning supplies and ongoing substrate replacement. Of course, a well-outfitted custom habitat and veterinary care can add to these costs.

New Tree Frog Owner Shopping List: What to Buy

Outfitting your tree frog’s habitat is one of the most fun aspects of their ownership. You get to design how you want their vivarium to look using hearty plants, branches and other climbing setups like driftwood. The habitat setup is also one of the biggest costs associated with taking your new pet home. Besides their tank, you also need to provide food, vitamins and minerals.

Below is a list of your pet tree frog’s needs from the very start of your life together:

  • Tree frog habitat – Your pet’s habitat in your home must mimic the surroundings in which they live in the wild. This means you need to outfit it with lots of plants, branches, dry land and a small pool. To meet these needs, your tree frog’s vivarium should be a 10-gallon aquarium tank or larger. As an option, you can buy a temporary small tank. Either way, the habitat must have a tight-fitting lid or screen to avoid the animal’s escape.
  • Wood pieces – Wood pieces with natural bark provide your tree frog with options for climbing and sitting to observe the world around them
  • Substrate – Coconut fiber, sphagnum moss or bark provides ground covering to help keep the vivarium clean while also adding a forest-like appeal
  • Climbing accessories – Tree frogs love to climb and need plenty of options for doing so
  • Faux plants and foliage – Faux plants are much easier to manage than real plants and provide realistic surroundings and concealment for your tree frog
  • Water dish – Your pet’s shallow water dish will double as a wading pond and drinking source
  • LED lighting – Your frog needs 10 to 12 hours of lighting per day
  • Mister – To simulate their natural rainforest surroundings, your tree frog needs occasional misting. You can accomplish this by paying about $2 for a misting bottle you use to spray the habitat daily or a misting system that costs up to $150 and automatically provides this moisture to the habitat
  • Food – Your tree frog is an insectivore and needs an ongoing supply of live crickets, grasshoppers and worms to hunt and eat
  • Gut loader – The insects you feed to your tree frog must first be gut-loaded with nutrient-rich food, themselves. You can find this gut-loading insect food in jars at your local pet supply store.
  • Insect container with lid – For gut-loading (feeding) and keeping the insects you will provide to your tree frog, you need a clear container with a tight lid
  • Calcium and multivitamin dust – You can dust the frog’s insect food with these supplement powders once weekly to ensure complete nutrition

Ongoing Needs: What You Need to Care For Your Tree Frog

Your pet tree frog’s ongoing needs consist mainly of habitat maintenance and feeding supplies. Below are the specific items you must provide or replenish on an ongoing basis:

  • Habitat cleaning supplies – Your pet tree frog’s habitat gets dirty quickly. Left too long, this grime from the animal’s waste and environmental humidity will lead to bacteria growth and potential health risk. For this reason, you must clean your tree frog’s vivarium every week to two weeks, emptying the habitat and washing it clean with non-toxic cleanser found in your pet supply store. You must also use this cleaning solution to wash all of the faux plants and other hard objects in the tank.
  • Substrate – After cleaning the tank each week, you must replace all of the coconut fiber, sphagnum moss or bark ground covering
  • Climbing accessories- and plants – You will occasionally need to buy new climbing accessories, faux plants or other habitat decorations to keep your frog stimulated in his or her environment
  • LED bulbs – The vivarium light bulbs will require replacement from time-to-time
  • Food – As an insectivore, your tree frog needs an ongoing supply of live crickets, grasshoppers and worms to hunt and eat
  • Gut loader – Your supply of the nutrient-packed gut loader you feed to the frog’s insects will require replenishment from time to time
  • Calcium and multivitamin dust – It is important to continue providing these essential nutrients for your frog throughout its lifetime

Exercise and Ongoing Care

Tree frogs are happiest when left alone and unbothered in their vivarium tank. This means you will have few responsibilities for their ongoing care, beyond feeding and habitat cleaning. They get exercise on their own, climbing around the tank on the branches that you supply.

Unlike many other pets kept in tanks, you should not handle your tree frog often. While you can take mice, hamsters and geckos out of their habitats to explore your home, you should not do this with your tree frog. Merely handling your frog can expose them to toxic substances they absorb through their sensitive skin. The safest place for them is in their vivarium.

Habitat Temperature and Humidity

You must keep your pet tree frog’s habitat at temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime and as low as 68 degrees at night. Most species thrive between 74 degrees and 85 degrees during the day with tank humidity of 60% to 80%. You can keep the air moist and wet in their habitat by frequently using a spray bottle to mist the air with chlorine-free water. Or, invest in a tank humidifier. Either way, the water you use should not be from the tap because this contains chlorine and is toxic to these little frogs. When measuring humidity in the vivarium, use a digital probe hygrometer held in the middle of the tank.

Cleaning the Tree Frog’s Habitat

Tree frog habitat cleaning is critical for their ongoing wellness. You should perform this deep cleaning once every week to two weeks. To do so, you should wear latex gloves and gently take your frog out of its habitat. Place it in a holding container like a small plastic “starter tank.” Ensure this tank has a lid or you will quickly have an escapee lost in your home. If your frog does escape, remember that they love to climb and are often found scaling walls with their sticky feet.

Once removing the frog from its habitat, remove all decoration and accessories from the vivarium. Empty the tank bottom of the old substrate. Then use non-toxic pet tank cleaning solution to wash the tank according to the product’s instructions. Also wash each faux plant, climbing accessory and other items before placing them back into the tank. Provide a fresh supply of substrate material. Never use gravel or sand for this ground covering in the habitat. Only use coconut fiber, sphagnum moss or bark. Gently return the frog to its habitat and tightly replace the cover.

Feeding Your Tree Frog

Tree frogs are insectivores. They should never be fed vegetables, fruits or human food of any kind. You should also never capture wild insects for feeding. These are more likely to carry parasites or other diseases and can lead to frog illness. Only feed your frog insects from a pet supply store. Choose the insects you feed according to your specific species of tree frog. Here is a more in-depth article on what tree frogs eat.

Foods eaten by most tree frog species include:

  • Crickets
  • Mealworms
  • Flies
  • Moths
  • Grasshoppers
  • Other worms
  • Spiders

You should feed a juvenile tree frog once daily and adults every other day. Before feeding your store-bought insects to your tree frog, you will need to gut-load the prey. This process involves placing the insects in a small holding tank with a lid and placing gut-loading food in the tank with them. Give the insects 24 to 48 hours to consume this nutrient-packed food before feeding them to the frog. By doing so, the nutritional value of the insects increases for the benefit of your pet tree frog. Once weekly, also dust the prey insects with powdered calcium and multivitamin supplements.

Of course, like any pet, your tree frog also needs fresh, clean, chlorine-free water at all times.

How long will your tree frog live?

If you provide a healthy and stimulating environment for your tree frog, they can live a long time in captivity. Some species live as long as 15 years in captivity. But most sold as pets live between 8 to 10 years. They are fully grown at between 6 months to 18 months of age, depending on species type.

Of course, your tree frog’s lifespan depends largely on their environment. In captivity, they rely on their owners to keep the habitat enclosure clean, humid and appropriately lit at the right temperature. Their habitat does not require heating but should never drop below 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime and 68 degrees at night. Ideal day temperature for most species is 74 degrees to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The air humidity in their tank should stay between 60% to 80%, measured by a digital probe hygrometer in the middle of the tank.

Common Health Issues for Tree Frogs

Like any pet, tree frogs can suffer from illnesses. The best way to avoid health problems in your frog is to provide a clean habitat. Use only non-toxic cleaning agents and handle your frog infrequently. When handling them to clean their tank or for other reasons, wear latex gloves or wash your hands thoroughly first to avoid transfer of oils or other substances from your skin. Always wash your hands well after handling your tree frog, too. Some of the ailments they suffer can cause health problems for humans.

To know if your tree frog is healthy, look for alert, clear eyes. The frog should be active with healthy looking skin. They should eat well and maintain a steady weight. Signs of illness include loss of appetite, lethargy, skin lesions, bloated abdomen, weight loss, distressed breathing and weak limbs.

Common illnesses tree frogs can suffer include:

  • Chemical intoxication – This sickness is caused by transfer of chemicals from their environment or through human handling
  • Intestinal obstruction – This is a common ailment suffered by frogs that eat too many hard-shelled insects or swallow gravel from the tank substrate, thus a reason why you should not use gravel in their habitat
  • Nutritional deficiencies – These deficiencies are caused by not eating the right foods or not being provided with calcium and multivitamin supplements
  • Skin problems – Such issues are typically caused by bacterial infections, fungal infections or skin abrasions
  • Salmonella – This bacterial infection is carried through the frog’s digestive tract and can easily be transmitted to humans

Where to Buy Your Tree Frog

You can find tree frogs to buy or adopt in national retail pet supply stores. You can also find them in local pet shops, animal shelters and online directory listings. Breeders in your area can be found through a web search or by talking to your veterinarian or other animal care professionals.

About the Author

AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

Pet Tree Frog Guide: What You Need To Know FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Can I own a tree frog as a pet?

Tree frogs like the American Green Tree Frog make great pets. You can easily buy or adopt these little frogs in a national chain pet supply store, local pet shop, animal shelter or through a local breeder. Sometimes you can also find them available through families or individuals giving their pet tree frog away, such as when the family is moving to another state. Tree frogs make great starter pets because they live 8 to 10 years in captivity and are relatively easy to care for and fun to watch.

Is it hard to care for a pet tree frog?

Tree frogs need a 10-gallon tank habitat, called a vivarium, that you clean once every week to 2 weeks. This tank must be kept at a temperature range of 74 degrees to 86 degrees Fahrenheit during the daytime and a humidity of 60% to 80%. This is relatively easy to manage. You also need to feed your tree frog live insects bought from a local pet store. Otherwise, your tree frog happily lives within this habitat and does not need much human interaction or assistance.

Do tree frogs bite?

Tree frogs rarely welcome human interaction and can bite on occasion. This is like any frog that may bite a human if handled. It is not usually a painful bite and rarely breaks human skin. Still, the frog will defend itself if it feels threatened.

Do tree frogs make noise at night?

Tree frogs are nocturnal animals. This means that, if you have a pet tree frog, your little creature will sleep much of the day and become active at night. During the nighttime they may chirp or bark as they try to attract a mate. Their mating call can go on for hours and may keep you awake from time to time, although many people find it soothing. They also love to make these noises after rain. Because your pet lives in a contained habitat, the only rain they receive is an artificial misting from your spray bottle or their automatic tank mister, sometimes kicking off their noisemaking.

Do pet tree frogs recognize their human owners?

Your pet tree frog does not have the mental ability to connect you, their human, to a concept like “ownership.” They do not bond with humans and will not show gratitude when you feed them, clean their habitat or mist them with water. In their relationship with you, you are merely an observer of their life and they hardly notice you.

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