Frogs and Toads
FROGS AND TOADS
Toad and frogs are amphibians. Bufonidae is the family of toads while Ranidae is the family of frog species. We recommend escape proof habitats for the frogs, toads and/or their live food. Toads need carpet, dry moss, bark or other similar bedding. Leafy plants to hide under and a water bowl are also needed. We recommend the plants to be in pots, unless water plants or the “air plants” are utilized. Water can be from the tap as long as it has set 24 hrs to breath off the chlorine. If in a hurry bottled water with no additives can be utilized. All amphibians need a place to hide within their habitat to reduce environmental stress. Expect your frog or toad to be more active at night than in the day. Tropical frogs may require temperatures of 75-85 degrees, while the temperate species like it cooler at 60-75 degrees. The green tree frog (Hyla cinerea) is a tropical frog that prefers 68 (night) to 80 degrees F during the day, plus a basking light. One does not need to lower the temperature to encourage temperate frogs for hibernation. Amphibians do not need to hibernate to be healthy. If adding heat for the tropical frogs you will want to add it to only one side of the tank. A tall jar of water and an aquarium heater inside may be sufficient for some toad or frog species. For toads a 60 watt bulb to one end of a 20 gallon habitat is adequate. If the light bulb is inside a larger “dome”, this is preferred to help warm the air temperature within that area. Around this dome we recommend bricks or pottery which will not overheat and catch fire. A hot rock inside a pottery jar is also possible to construct in a toad habitat; ensure the hot rock has a surrounding brick floor inside the dome that is not heated. Too high of a temperature is lethal. Periodically check both sides of tank for the inside air temperature to ensure they are at the correct levels. To measure the air temperature lay a dial-type thermometer inside the tank for 1 minute. The vitamin lights for reptiles are also encouraged for amphibians.
The habitat will be determined by the species; a toad will need a dry container with a screened top while a climbing frog will need a tight fitting lid. Frogs require a higher humidity than toads, and a more frequent cleaning of the habitat, such as weekly. A larger water bowl or container is needed for frogs; you can then remove the container for an easier method to clean the habitat. For toads a small bowl with less than 1″ of water is adequate. For cleaning use a 1/30 chlorine bleach solution with a water rinse, wipe down and then allowed to dry. A smaller travel container is recommended for the frogs or toads when you clean the habitat. Gravel should not be used, and instead we recommend moss, shredded paper or mulch. Hiding places, logs and plants are also recommended. Non-chlorinated water, or water which has been allowed to sit for 2-3 days, should be utilized. UV B is not required as the light source.
Amphibians do not drink; instead they absorb water from their skin. Unlike reptiles that excrete uric acid, the amphibians excrete ammonia. (A few tree frogs do excrete uric acid). We recommend handling amphibians with wet latex gloves or a net. The skin of a toad is also built to absorb air and water, if you have chemicals on your hand you can literally poison a toad by handling him. By placing pressure on the stomach and back it is easier to hold a frog or toad. Some species, such as the Bufo toads, pickerel frog species, or the Dendrobatidae (arrow-poison) frog can cause irritation when handling them. The Bufo toad has a parotid gland behind their eyes, which can produce a creamy, toxic fluid. If a dog bites on a toad, “Bufo poisoning” can occur. A human handling a toad rarely will ever have a problem; hand washing is always recommended afterwards. Humans do not get warts from toads or frogs.
Toads and frogs eat smaller animals. Essentially anything that moves is prey. A bullfrog can even devour a baby duckling. Beetles, cockroaches, crickets, earthworms, fruit flies, grasshoppers, mealworms, silkworms, wax worms and white worms are most commonly fed to amphibians kept in captivity. There are bowls which help keep the insects contained until eaten. Feeding once every 2-3 days can be adequate. Fireflies are toxic to reptiles and amphibians, which includes frogs and toads. Some may eat small fish. A few of these prey species you can raise at home. We do not advise ants as a food for obvious reasons such as escaping. We recommend that one periodically use a reptile vitamin-mineral supplement for their captive amphibians. Place the moist worm in a bag or vial with the supplement and shake; then feed immediately to the hungry frog or toad. You can train amphibians to look for food in a specific area, such as a flat rock or plate. There are also commercially available red worms that eat human garbage, which can then be used for amphibian food. Clawed frogs and other species can easily adapt to be fed moist cat or dog food. We recommend you first try dipping a prey they like into canned a/d, then proceed slowly with more a/d and less prey to convert to this type of food. If possible we would like to see all amphibians eat up to 1/4 of their diet as a/d, canned food or a commercially available food for amphibians. A variety of food sources are very important. The mature frogs and toads can be fed every other day 5-6x insects, yet the juveniles should be fed daily. After shedding their skin expect frogs and toads to maybe eat the skin whole.
Reproduction requires the male to sit by the female and fertilize the eggs as she passes them. Even toads require water to reproduce. Clawed frogs may also carry the fertilized eggs and attach them to vegetation. Once the eggs are laid and/or the larvae hatch the adults should be removed from the area if you are trying to raise the offspring. An exception is the Marsupial frog that carries the eggs in a pouch until they are hatched. The Poison Arrow frog may carry the eggs or larvae on his back. Baby Auran species (frogs and toads) are called tadpoles. Tadpoles eat various foods from moistened fish chow, algae and boiled eggs and /or cat food, spinach, chopped up prey for the adults, some lettuce. Expect tadpoles to even eat other smaller or dead tadpoles. It is difficult to sex most any amphibian; sometimes the males are smaller, more vocal and/or colorful. With Aurans there may be nuptial pads on the forearms of some species, to help them hold onto the female during breeding season. It can be illegal to release some non-native species of wildlife into our environment. As a general rule you should keep only one species of amphibians, reptiles or even bird species within each habitat.
The average tree frog can live 5-6 years with proper care: a leopard or bull frog can live up to 12 years. The African clawed toed frog can live to 30 years with proper care. The most common problem we see in exotics is due to malnutrition and habitat problems.
The Staff at the Nelson Road Veterinary Clinic
We have many other handouts on salamanders and similar species, along with how to change from a single insect only diet to a more complete food. A care of the various insects and prey handouts are also available.