Taking care of a frog is never so simple and, even less, to be underestimated. In fact, we must pay close attention to the hygienic standards of the substrate and water, as well as the right temperature and an optimal humidity level to promote a healthy life for our animal and avoid the onset of diseases and infections.
It can be said that there are “simpler to raise” frogs, better suited for beginners, and more “tough” ones, suitable for experts in the sector. In any case, there are bases to respect and follow the rule, so that our frog can find itself in an environment that is as optimal as possible and suited to its needs.
We remind you that frogs, but also toads – generally more terrestrial – need an area of water always available, which can be a part of the terrarium dedicated to it, or a simple tray (generally the latter is mainly used for fossorial frogs, which spend most of their lives hidden in the earth and under moss – for example the Ceratophrys, known amicably as Pacman Frogs). It is therefore a good habit to always provide clean and fresh water, so that the frog can cool off when it feels the need.
Another fundamental factor is food. Frogs normally eat insects, such as crickets, worms, moths, caimans and other small or medium-sized arthropods (however, the size of our frog must also be taken into account), but also small animals such as mice or fish. The food, whatever it is, must be healthy and rich in nutrients.
Obviously, then, based on the type of frog raised, whether it is a Bombina Orientalis or a Bullfrog, the types of terrarium and environment change. But let’s see in detail what are the basic rules for the perfect care of amphibians.
First of all, the species of frog to look after must be considered. Some species have more needs than others, so you need to be thoroughly informed about their life in the wild, what they eat and what environment they live in. A Litoria, for example, will need a vertically developed terrarium, with an environment rich in strong vegetation and branches on which to climb, while a Ceratophrys will be satisfied with a lower one, with a lot of substrate and some hiding places to shelter. So, before buying any kind of frog, get informed, and see if it is right for you!
The terrarium, or terracquarium, is the crucial part. A good terrarium should ideally be made of glass, easier to clean, if you are to house frogs with special needs. Attention also to robustness: if you decide to insert large volumes of water, stones, plants and gravel, it is better to have a terrarium that rests completely on the ground, without those raised edges that many are equipped with … you would only risk unpleasant inconveniences such as breakages caused by the too much pressure. If, on the other hand, you decide for a simple substrate with some accessories, then there will be no major problems.
For tree frogs and climbing frogs, more height-developing terrariums are needed, furnished with branches, plants and other structures they can climb on. Do not use metal nets: the frogs could be seriously injured! A fundamental thing of a good terrarium is the air intakes. The frogs must have excellent ventilation, with a continuous circulation of air so that the carbon dioxide can escape. The tank must also be leak-proof.
Another fundamental point is humidity: from species to species, each frog needs a certain level of humidity, as stable as possible. Often a simple tub of water is not enough … a well moist but not soaked soil, the plants and supports as well as the well nebulized terrarium walls are essential, to avoid unpleasant inconveniences: the frogs dry very easily, and we must be us to promote an environment that is as adequate as possible!
To promote humidity, real plants are very useful; Find out about the needs of your frog and create a terrarium with vegetation typical of its area … It will certainly appreciate more than an empty case with helpless objects, and you will also be able to admire a realistic and ever-growing landscape! But be careful, not all frogs will know how to respect a coexistence with plants… Ceratophrys or Xenopus, for example, will trample and eradicate the vegetation. It will therefore be useless, and a waste, to insert a nice photo: better a mossy decor!
The substrate. There are those who indulge themselves with the most particular substrates, from peat, moss, stones to create hiding places, and those who use simple absorbent paper always soaked in water. The absorbent paper is used for semi-sterile terrariums, suitable for hosting delicate species and subject to bacterial infections and diseases, as it certainly offers a more aseptic and clean environment, or small or quarantined subjects. For more information on semi-sterile terrariums, take a look here!
Find out about the most suitable substrate for your frog: Australian frogs, for example, need a deeper substrate, composed for example of peat and coconut fiber, while a Xenopus will be satisfied with a bottom of coarse gravel or, better, stones medium size.
The substrate must be basically clean: you can change it every 2 or 3 weeks, it also depends on how much and how it will dirty your frog. If you manage to eliminate the stool, you can also change it once a month. In any case, hygiene is essential: pathogenic diseases come mainly from here!
Many breeders use alternative terrariums, replacing regular potting soil with paper towels. These terrariums, called semi-sterile terrariums, offer an aseptic environment, less subject to pathogens, as well as a faster and less expensive, easy and simple management of the terrarium.
Water is FUNDAMENTAL. Beware of those who tell you that you just need to spray the terrarium … a tub of water will never hurt, as long as it is not too deep and always clean. Better still, for frogs that need a lot of water, have a completely dedicated area, with islets and hiding places.
In any case, whether you have more aquatic or more terrestrial frogs, you will need to pay a lot of attention to the cleanliness of the water. You can install in a filter to keep the water clean for longer. Dirty water will bring diseases … always try to provide fresh water!
The water to be used must be free of chlorine and other elements harmful to frogs. They also breathe from the skin, they hydrate themselves… their skin is like a sponge that absorbs everything. Before using the water, if you know that it may contain substances that are harmful to your pet, let it decant for at least 24 hours before using it.
Some frogs require a lot of light, others less. It is a good idea, however, to install low intensity ultraviolet light, especially if you decide to keep plants in your terrarium. In addition, the light will promote the production of vitamin D3, which is essential for the synthesis of calcium.
Warning: too intense and continuous light (more than 12 hours a day), instead of favoring the growth of the animal, will have negative effects on it. Check your species’ requests for light carefully before making any rash purchases: you risk spending money unnecessarily and damaging your pet’s health.
Incandescent lamps dry the skin faster. So opt for a cold light lamp, it will produce less heat without risk.