raise frogs

A step-by-step guide to raising a frog as a pet

Frogs are one of the most diverse species of animals and there are thousands of species of frogs that live everywhere, both in the desert and in the water. Children love to catch tadpole jellyfish in a nearby stream and raise them until they are frogs. Other frog owners enjoy watching an exotic pet grow and live, sometimes for 20+ years. Due to the incredible diversity and national or local laws restricting frog ownership, you must research frog species to determine which is the right species for you before purchasing or catching a frog.

Build a home for tadpoles

Find out about the laws regarding

Raising tadpoles in your area. Many countries and regions require people to have an amphibious license before they can officially raise tadpoles and frogs. Some species are prohibited from rearing under certain circumstances, such as endangered species. Research information online about national and local laws, or contact a local wildlife management or natural resource office. In Australia there are particularly strict laws for frog rearing, which vary from state to state. If you buy jellyfish from a pet store, you should ask the clerk about the laws in your area.

Find a plastic or glass container.

Short, wide tanks are better than large, narrow ones because the larger water surface allows more oxygen to get into the water. You can purchase a livestock container at the pet store, or use any other clean plastic or glass container. Do not use metal containers or tap water from copper pipes. Use a large container so the tadpoles don’t get cramped. For example, use a plastic paddling pool if you want to raise a lot of tadpoles. Even frog eggs can die in a small container, the causes of this are unclear.

Fill the container with pond water, rainwater, or dechlorinated tap water.

Tadpoles need clean water and could die if they are in tap water that hasn’t had chlorine or other chemicals removed. It is best to use water from the pond where the tadpoles are swimming or rainwater. If this is not possible, treat tap water with dechlorinating tablets, which you can purchase at a pet store, or leave the container of tap water in sunlight for 1-7 days to allow the chlorine to break down. Don’t use rainwater if your area has acid rain or is near an industrial area. If your tap water has fluoride, you will need additional filters to remove the fluoride, which would not be good for the tadpoles.

Add sand.

Some species of tadpoles forage for food or small particles of food in the sand and do best in containers with 1/2 inch of clean sand at the bottom. You can use small, round aquarium gravel or sand from a river bank. Sand from beaches or quarries is not recommended as it may contain harmful levels of salts and other substances. To remove these substances, you can fill small containers (not the tadpole container) half full with sand and add water to it. Leave this for 24 hours, drain the water and repeat at least 6 times.

Add stones and plants so that the animals can climb out of the water.

Almost every species of tadpole needs a way to get out of the water once it has become a frog, as it can no longer stay underwater indefinitely. Rocks that stick out above the water surface are a good possibility. Aquarium plants from a pond or pet store provide oxygen and give tadpoles a place to hide, but should not cover more than 25% of the water surface, otherwise the oxygen from the air can no longer get into the water. Caution: Place the rocks close to the edge of the aquarium, as some species of frogs only look for land at the edge of the water and not in the middle. Don’t use plants that have been treated with pesticides or other chemicals, as these could kill the tadpoles.

Keep the temperature constant.

Tadpoles, like aquarium fish, are very sensitive to changes in water temperature and could die if placed in a tank with a much higher or lower water temperature than the temperature in the previous tank. If you’re buying tadpoles or frog eggs from a pet store, ask what temperature you should keep the water at. If you collect them in a pond or stream, use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the water there. Try to keep the new water temperature as close to the previous one as possible. If you don’t know an expert who can identify the species or give you more precise clues, try to keep the water temperature at 15-20°C. Prepare to bring the container inside before it freezes outside. Bring the water to partial shade if the weather gets too hot.

Consider installing an aquarium aerator.

If your tank is large and you have aquarium plants in the sand but not covering the surface, then there is probably enough oxygen in the air getting into the water and an aerator could cause the tadpoles to inflate. If you’re only raising a few tadpoles, they’ll usually get enough oxygen, too, if conditions aren’t ideal. If you raise a lot of tadpoles and your tank doesn’t meet the conditions described, consider installing an aquarium aerator to keep the air in the tank moving.

Buy frog eggs or tadpoles.

In accordance with national or local laws, you can collect tadpoles or frog eggs from a pond or stream near you. You can also buy them at a pet store, but don’t buy exotic or imported species if you intend to release the tadpoles into the wild. Frogs can live for many years and require a lot of care, so it’s recommended that you raise local species the first time you try them. Use a soft net or small bucket to capture the tadpoles and place them in a shipping container filled with water for them to swim in. Tadpoles can injure themselves if bumped or scratched and cannot breathe in air. A guideline would be to provide 3.8 liters of water for every 2.5 cm of tadpole jellyfish. Keep in mind that most tadpoles grow and become much larger before they become frogs. Too many tadpoles in the aquarium can lead to illness or insufficient oxygen.

Once the temperature has been adjusted, transfer the eggs or tadpoles to the new container.

If the water temperature is different than it was in the water they came from, place the container with the tadpoles and old water in the new container, but make sure the opening of the container is above the water surface so that the water of one container cannot mix with that of the other container. Let this sit until both tanks have the same water temperature, then transfer the tadpoles to the larger tank.

Caring for tadpoles properly

Feed tadpoles small amounts of soft, green leaves.

Tadpoles prefer to eat soft plants, which should be given in small amounts when they run out of food. Leaves with algae can be collected from the bottom of a stream or pond and fed to the tadpoles. Alternatively, you can rinse baby spinach (not other spinach), dark green lettuce, or papaya leaves thoroughly, chop into small pieces, and freeze before feeding. Ask a pet store clerk or do some research online before feeding the tadpoles other plants. Fish flake food is usually not as good quality as vegetables, but can be used if it’s mostly spirulina or vegetables, but not animal protein. Crush large flakes into small pieces and feed a pinch daily.

Feed tadpoles insects occasionally.

Tadpoles should only be given a little animal protein occasionally, as they cannot digest large amounts of it. Use frozen foods for fresh fry, like frozen bloodworms or water fleas, so you don’t overfeed the protein and the tadpoles can eat them too. Feed this to the tadpoles in small amounts once a week. Once they become frogs, you can feed them larger amounts of insects once per day, although they won’t eat for a short time due to the change. There is food for fry where there are live fish.

Clean the water regularly.

If the water becomes cloudy or stinks, or if the tadpoles are hanging out at the top of the tank, then it’s time to change the water. Use the same water as the tadpoles are swimming in, which may have been treated with dechlorinating tablets. Make sure the temperature is the same as the water you already have, as changing the temperature could kill the tadpoles. Replace 30-50% of the old water with new water per change. The water stays cleaner longer if you don’t feed the tadpoles large amounts of food at once. Each feeding should be mostly eaten within 12 hours and then replaced promptly. Only use water filters for aquarium cleaning if you are sure they are weak enough not to suck the tadpoles in or force them to swim against the current. You can use foam filters without hesitation.

Give calcium.

Tadpoles need calcium for their skeleton to grow and may not get enough calcium from their diet. Pet stores therefore sell cuttlefish, which should be carefully chopped before placing them in the container and leaving them there permanently. Alternatively, you can use liquid calcium for aquariums and add one drop per liter of water with each water change. Use cuttlebone pieces that are about 4 inches long. They should suffice for a small aquarium.

Prepare for metamorphosis.

Depending on the species and age, the tadpoles turn into frogs within a few weeks or months. When they develop legs and start losing their tails, the little froglets will try to get out of the water. Prepare a plan as soon as you notice the changes in the tadpoles: most frogs cannot breathe infinitely underwater, so have a non-metal rock or pedestal at the edge of the tank ready for them to climb on to reach air. Some species cannot climb out on their own, so you’ll need to use a small net to lift them out when their tails are halfway off. Attach a lid to the aquarium that has plenty of air holes. Place heavy objects on top if the lid won’t stop the frogs from hopping out of the tank.

release frogs.

Once you’ve caught the tadpoles, you can release the frogs into an area of ​​wet vegetation that’s near the water source where you caught them. If you can’t release them immediately, keep them in the plastic tank covered with leaf litter and bits of bark large enough for the frogs to hide under. Don’t fill the tank with water, just give the frogs a shallow plate of water to sit in and spray the sides of the tank with water once a day. If you plan to continue raising your frogs, you will need to tend them more than once a day before releasing them into the wild. You can find out more in the following section.

Caring for adult frogs

Find out about the needs of the frog species before you buy them.

Some species of frogs require a lot of care, which is something you should research before you buy. If you’re a beginner, buy a non-venomous species that won’t get too big. Many species of frogs don’t want to be touched or sit still for long periods of time, making them less interesting to children. Choose a local frog species that you can legally release into the wild if you decide you no longer want to raise it. Some national and local governments require an amphibian license or ban frog farming altogether. Research the laws in your area online.

Find out if your frogs live on land, in water, or both on land and in water.

Many species of frogs need both, so you need a special two-part tank where the frog has land and water. Others need shallow water in a dish to sit in, while others are completely aquatic and can still breathe underwater as adult frogs. Research the frog’s needs before setting up the aquarium. If you collected the frogs from the wild, have a biologist or someone from the nearest natural resources bureau identify the species.

Find a glass or clear plastic terrarium.

Glass aquariums or terrariums are best for most frog species. Clear plastic aquariums also work, but some species of frogs require ultraviolet light, which could damage the plastic over time. Make sure the aquarium is water and escape-proof, but also has enough holes and mesh for ventilation. Do not use metal netting as the frogs may injure themselves. For trees and other climbing frogs, you should use a large container with enough room for branches and places to climb.

Maintain the temperature and humidity of the container.

Whether you need a heater and/or humidifier depends on the frog species and the local climate, so ask an expert for advice or search online for more information about the species’ needs. If you need to keep the container at a specific humidity level, shop a hygrometer to measure humidity so you can spray the walls with water if necessary. In a two-part aquarium (air and water), the most effective way to heat the water to keep it warm is to use an aquarium heater.

Cover the bottom of the aquarium with natural materials.

The frog needs a natural ground on which to walk, both in air and in water. The perfect floor depends on the species. A pet store associate or experienced frog owner who knows your species can recommend sand, gravel, peat, moss, or a mixture of all. Burrowing species need thicker soil to burrow.

Apply ultraviolet light if necessary.

Some frogs need ultraviolet light for about 6-8 hours a day. Research your species to find out if this is necessary, and ask a pet store clerk what UV lamp is best. There are many species, some of which could overheat the aquarium if the wavelength of the light is not correct. Fluorescent lights produce less heat and are therefore more suitable for regular exposure than incandescent bulbs.

Use clean water and change it regularly.

For terrestrial species, give a plate of rainwater or similar large enough for the frogs to sit in and covered up to their shoulders in water. If the frog species needs a two-part tank or an all-aquatic tank, treat it like a regular tank. This means rainwater or other frog-safe water, an aerator, and changing 30-50% of the water to clean water of the same temperature whenever it becomes cloudy or foul-smelling. It is best to change the water once every 1-3 weeks, depending on how many animals are in the aquarium. Tap water can be treated with dechlorinating tablets and, if necessary, made frog-proof with a fluoride filter. Do not use tap water from copper pipes, as trace amounts of copper can be toxic to frogs. If the aquarium is being kept warm, as is necessary for some species, you will need to bring the new cold water to the correct temperature in a stainless steel pot. Don’t use hot tap water.

Add plants and branches if needed.

Underwater aquarium plants in the part of the tank that is submerged will help keep the tank clean and oxygenated, and also provide hiding places for the frogs. Climbing frogs need natural or artificial climbing branches, but most frog species prefer hiding places such as large pieces of bark.

Choose appropriate live food.

Almost all species of frogs eat live insects in the wild, and feeding live insects is a good idea. Worms, crickets, moths, and insect larvae make good food, and many frogs aren’t that picky about what they eat. However, it’s always a good idea to find out what the species likes and offer food in an appropriate mouth size. Mice or other non-insect meat can put a strain on frogs’ organs unless they are of a large species that has become accustomed to this type of protein. Do not feed the frog large ants as these may kill frogs. Many frogs don’t recognize non-moving objects as food, but you can try feeding the frog dead insects one at a time by holding them near its mouth with tweezers.

Cover the food with amphibian calcium or vitamin supplements.

Frogs need a source of calcium, vitamins, or both because they cannot get enough nutrients from insects. You can buy amphibious vitamins and calcium supplements in powder form that you can put on insects before feeding. There are many branded products and which one is best depends on the frog’s diet and characteristics. In general, separate calcium and vitamin supplements should not be expired and phosphorus supplements should be avoided if the frog’s diet is primarily crickets. It’s easiest to place the bugs and a little powder in a container and shake the container to coat the bugs in the powder.

Feeding times depend on age and climate.

The exact needs of the frog will depend on the species, but if you don’t have specific instructions for your frog species, you can follow these guidelines as well. Young frogs do not eat everything immediately when they come out of the water, but will soon begin to eat quickly and should always have food available. Adult frogs will be happy if you feed them 4-7 insects of the appropriate size once every three or four days. When it’s colder, frogs don’t have to eat as much. Remove dead, floating insects from the water when you see them.

How you touch the frog.

Most frogs don’t want to be touched or can even irritate your hands or damage them through skin contact. However, if your frog is of a kind that can be touched and does not squirm or urinate when you pick it up, you can hold it gently. Research the species to see if it’s safe to keep. Even if gloves aren’t necessary, wash your hands thoroughly before and after holding them, rinsing them two or more times to remove all traces of soap or lotion.

Tips

If the tadpoles have trouble eating lettuce, boil it for 10-15 minutes to soften it before slicing and freezing. Use an antifungal spray diluted 1:3 if hairy or powdery mold is growing on frog eggs. Subscribe to our blog to discover more about raising a frog.

Warnings

The foliage of some trees, such as oleander or pine, is harmful to tadpoles. Place the container away from these trees to minimize risk and reduce the need for cleaning. Remove live mosquito larvae from the surface of the water immediately if you live in an area with mosquito-borne diseases. If you see snails in the tadpole tank, remove them immediately and do a complete water change. Snails have parasites in some areas that can cause tadpoles to grow into deformed frogs.

 

About the Author

Helen Miller

Helen Miller is a freelance writer at CouponKirin. She covers personal finance topics in a syndicated column that appears in Financial Planning Magazine. Her work has been featured by Market Watch, Digital Journal, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, and Yahoo Finance. Helen has a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of California, Los Angeles.