Red-eyed Tree Frog Care Sheet (New Owner Guide)

Red-eyed tree frogs are one of the most popular pet frogs you can buy. Their eyes aren’t just bright red, they’re also huge and disproportionately large when compared with the size of the rest of the frog. In addition, the red-eyed tree frog has a very slender green body, which makes their eyes stand out even more. In this red-eyed tree frog care sheet we’ll discuss the main things to know if you’re considering becoming an owner of one of these unique amphibians.

This species is often considered a must-have for frog enthusiasts, and robust captive breeding programs make it easy to ensure that you aren’t getting a wild-caught frog, which protects the population in the wild.

With all that being said, let’s get right into the guide to caring for a red-eyed tree frog!

Red-eyed tree frog care sheet

Common name: red-eyed tree frog
Scientific name: Agalychnis callidryas
Range: Central America
Lifespan: Over 5 years
Adult size: 2-3 inches long
Temperament: Fairly docile

1. Housing

Glass terrariums are best for these frogs, because they let enough heat out that you won’t have to worry about the frogs overheating, but they retain moisture very well. These are tropical frogs whose natural habitat is the rainforest, which means they like humidity.

You’ll need a terrarium that’s at least 15 gallons in volume, and if you have the space you can go bigger than that, too. It’s also good to pick out a terrarium that’s taller than it is wide. Red-eyed tree frogs are arboreal, so they spend very little time on the ground. It’s far more important to ensure that they have plenty of space for climbing.

That means you’ll also want to decorate the terrarium with objects and plants they can climb on, and that substrate is less important. You’ll want some sort of substrate, but really the only reason it’s there is to maintain humidity levels. Something like sphagnum moss, coconut fiber, or even a damp paper towel will work.

A water dish is also necessary. It will help with the humidity, but it also provides fresh water for the frog to drink, which is absolutely necessary.

Product recommendations

TerrariumThis terrarium from Exo Terra is perfect for red-eyed tree frogs. It’s nice and tall to give them plenty of room to climb, and it’s even big enough that you could house a second frog in it if you decide to get more. The front-opening doors are a huge plus, too. Since these frogs climb, they’ll spend a lot of their time up near the top of the tank, and opening the top creates an opportunity to escape. Front-opening doors are more secure.

Water dish– Your red-eyed tree frog will need access to fresh drinking water. This one will work well, and it will look great in your finished terrarium.

Vegetation– Lots of frog owners like to use live plants, but these require much more maintenance. Artificial plants like these will look just as good and give your frog something to climb on as well.


2. Temperature and humidity

Red-eyed tree frogs do best at 75 degrees. That temperature needs to be fairly constant, so you’ll need a thermometer and a heater that are connected to maintain the ideal temperature range for your frog. A heatmat is better for this than a heat lamp. The mat sticks onto the glass on one side and radiates heat more gently and evenly than a heat lamp. Plus, using a mat will heat the tank unevenly- one side will always be a bit cooler. This is a good thing, since it will allow your frog to cool off when it needs to.

You also need to keep the humidity level between 70-80%. A shallow water dish, accompanied by moistened substrate, can usually maintain that level of humidity with no trouble. If the humidity levels keep dropping below 70%, you may need to mist the tank a couple of times each day.

For the mist, the water bowl, and the substrate, you should always use purified water, not tap water. Tap water has chlorine in it, and since frogs absorb water and chemicals through their skin, chlorinated water can poison your frog.

Product recommendations

Heater– This small heating pad works great. It will keep one side of the tank warm without overheating the other side.


3. Diet and feeding

Red-eyed tree frogs like bugs, a lot. You can feed them nothing but crickets and they’ll be quite happy. Some people like to supplement with silkworms, mealworms, and roaches occasionally, but these should always be special treats rather than the staple of the diet. Crickets are really the best staple food for your frog.

You can feed live crickets if you like, and many frog enthusiasts decide to raise their own crickets to feed their frogs. That way they know exactly what the crickets are fed, and can ensure that they’ve been gut loaded before they’re fed to the frog.

Gut-loading is important- it simply means that the crickets have had a nutritious meal before the frog eats them, and it’s important for ensuring that your frog is getting enough nutrients. However, raising your own crickets can be a hassle.

If there’s a well-stocked pet store nearby, it’s likely that they have feeder crickets for sale, and they can tell you when to stop by to pick up crickets that have been gut-loaded to feed your frog. If that still seems like too much trouble, don’t worry: freeze dried crickets are also a great choice.

No matter how you’re getting your crickets, you need a calcium supplement, too. Your frog is not going to get enough calcium from the crickets you feed it, and the calcium supplement is necessary for ensuring that your frog is healthy. Simply dust the crickets with the supplement powder before feeding them to your frog.

Recommendations

Crickets– live crickets are great, and provide some added stimulation for your frog as they hunt them down. But you may not always have easy access to live crickets, so it’s good to have these freeze-dried crickets on hand.

Calcium supplement– your frog won’t likely get all the calcium it needs just from the crickets. Supplements like this one can be dusted onto their food before they eat to make sure they get enough.


4. Substrate

Substrate is the ground in your terrarium. With terrestrial species, this is hugely important. They’ll live their whole lives on that substrate, and picking the right material matters. Arboreal frogs like red-eyed tree frogs are less picky about their substrate needs. The main reason for having substrate for them is to maintain humidity levels and to help absorb urine and feces.

Truthfully, damp paper towels will work just fine, although you’ll have to replace them frequently. Sphagnum moss is also popular since it holds moisture very well. It is, however, a living plant, and while there are some benefits to having live plants in the terrarium, it’s usually easier to avoid them.

Coconut fiber is probably the best substrate you can use. It holds moisture like sphagnum moss, but it’s not a living plant, so it’s low maintenance. With any of these substrates, you’ll need to change them regularly. For moss or coconut fiber, two or three changes per month should suffice.

Recommendations

Coconut Fiber Substrate– You can’t go wrong with this coconut fiber. It’s a trusted brand that’s been making this high-quality substrate for a long time. Your frog will thank you.


5. Maintenance

If there’s one thing that new frog owners often neglect, it’s maintenance. Your red-eyed tree frog, like any other living thing, will urinate and defecate, and create other forms of waste inside it’s terrarium. It’s trapped in it’s environment with all the waste it produces, so regular cleaning is essential to your frog’s health.

Two or three times a month, you should remove your frog from the terrarium and put them in a secure container- cheap plastic travel terrariums are ideal for this. Next, remove everything, including substrate and decorations, from the terrarium.

Clean the glass of the terrarium with warm water (no soap) and let it dry. Rinse off the plants to make sure they’re clean before adding them. It’s also a good idea to scrub the water dish clean. Once that’s all done and the glass is dry, add fresh substrate, return all the decorations (be sure to put them back in the same arrangement as before) and return your frog to it’s nice, clean home.

Recommendations

Sponges– Frogs have sensitive skin, which means using soap or disinfectant is usually a bad idea. These sponges are specially designed to scrub your terrarium and furnishings clean without needing soap.


6. Handling

Frogs have delicate, porous skin. They absorb oxygen and water through their skin, and that means they’ll absorb the oils from your skin along with anything else on your hands like soap, detergent, pesticides, or anything else you’ve come into contact with.

That means you should minimize contact with your frog. These just aren’t pets that you should handle on a regular basis. Occasionally, though, you’ll have no choice. You’ll have to remove them from the terrarium to clean the tank, and from time to time it’s good to pull them out so you can get a close look at them and make sure that they’re healthy.

A good precaution is to wear sterile gloves each time you handle them. This isn’t a perfect solution, so you should still minimize handling, but it will protect them quite well when handling is necessary.

Recommendations

Gloves– Sometimes it’s just necessary to handle your frog. Gloves like these are great for making sure you don’t expose your frog to any toxins from your hands when you remove them from the terrarium to clean it.


7. Other things to know

red-eyed tree frog

Red-eyed tree frogs are nocturnal. During the day, they often hide by closing their eyes and drawing their legs up over the blue patches on their sides- in this position, all of the exposed skin on the frog is green, and they are difficult to spot. If your tank looks empty during the day, look closer! Your frog is probably just hiding.


Red-eyed tree frogs as pets

Red-eyed tree frogs are delightful pets. Their huge, bright red eyes give them a striking appearance, and at night they can become quite active and fun to watch.

This species is very common in the wild, and is commonly bred in captivity, so there are no conservation related concerns for them either.

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The Critter Hideout

The Critter Hideout talks about all types of creatures and critters including reptiles, amphibians, insects, and spiders. Our goal is to simply share helpful information and answer common questions.