Catching and Keeping Tree Frogs

What could be cuter than Kermit the frog with suction cup fingers? A basic care guide for these neat little critters.

Finding and Catching

Found in southeastern United States, these little critters can often be found at night crawling on the sides of houses near water. They are a lot less “jumpy” than regular aquatic frogs and this makes them much easier to catch, as long as they come down low enough to get without a ladder. Unlike the poison arrow frogs, American tree frogs are not toxic so you can pick them up, but I do recommend you wash your hands after handling them just like any other reptile or amphibian.

Housing

A large aquarium with a very secure lid works best. For the bottom of the tank, you should fill it with about three inches of water with a good filter to keep it clean. Don’t worry about your pet drowning, it won’t spend much time at the bottom, but you do need to worry about chlorine. All amphibians absorb chemicals through their skin, so be sure to purify your water before use. To avoid feeder insects drowning, you might want to put some islands into the water for them to crawl onto.

Tree frogs all have suction cups on their toes which allow them to climb dang near anything, even glass! To make them feel more at home, and spruce things up, I recommend some fake plants for them to cling to as well. Tree frogs love to congregate at the top of whatever enclosure you put them into, usually in crevices, so be careful not to squish them, and make sure you have a secure lid. If you don’t, they will escape. If you feel your home is a tad on the cool side, get a heating lamp or pad to keep your pet comfortable.

Feeding

Tree frogs love flies, but since these can be hard to provide on a regular basis, crickets will do, but I do advise you to throw in some beetles and such every now and then; nobody wants to eat the same thing everyday. Now THIS IS IMPORTANT! One of the biggest problems with feeding tree frogs is the vitamin supplement powder. Because their tanks are so moist, any powder you put on your crickets will probably wash off before they are eaten, so you have to first feed vitamins to the crickets, then feed the crickets to the frogs. You are what you eat, and what you eat ate as well.

Cleaning

Tree frogs can be a bit messy. When they cling to the glass, they leave behind a kind of slime. This needs to be cleaned AT LEAST once a week, if not more. Just use an algae scrubber. If left unchecked, you’ll need a razor blade to get this stuff off, it’s like nature’s super glue. They leave their waste on the glass as well. You also need to clean the water regularly as dirty water can cause a lot of health problems.

Friends

Tree frogs do well with other amphibians of relatively the same size. Like every other frog I have experience with, they will eat anything small enough to swallow that crosses their path, even their own young! Keep this in mind when deciding on your pet’s roommates.

Breeding

After about a year, most tree frogs are ready to mate in spring. As long as you have this relative tank setup with about four to six inches of water, and if you feed them a wider variety of insects, they should spawn. Once they do, remove the parents for the safety of the young, they may eat the eggs, tadpoles, or young frogs. The eggs hatch in about a week. Feed the tadpoles fish flakes, or read my care sheet on tadpoles. the tadpoles start changing into adults after about six weeks.

Other Considerations

Male tree frogs have a somewhat loud mating call. Keep this in mind before deciding to get one as a pet. Though personally I enjoy the sound, some find it irritating. Tree frogs are less timid than regular aquatic frogs and will climb on you if you let them, just be gentle with them and wash your hands afterwards. Tree frogs become litter or darker in color depending on what they are resting on. Frogs are living creatures too, so please don’t mistreat or abuse them.

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  1. Denice

    On July 16, 2008 at 8:24 am

    it msut be noted that in most areas catching/keeping ANY wild animal is illegal. As frog species are on the decline, removing ANY from their natural breeding area is wrong. ALWAYS return any wild animal within 4 hours. In some places the law states you cannot even keep them that long.

  2. Togot

    On July 17, 2008 at 2:41 am

    Denice, that’s a good point. luckily, in my state all ones needs is a fishing licence to catch nearly anything that isn’t on an endangered list. thankfully the frogs are booming here, but i still make it a point to breed my pets and release their young where i got the parents. that is why many of my care sheets include breeding and rearing instructions. my turtles just laid a clutch and i can’t wait for their babies to hatch!

  3. randomperson

    On August 13, 2008 at 3:53 pm

    Hey togot, I was at this place where my dad works and I saw 2 brite green frogs and they were the size of an adults fist, do u think it may be a tree frog?? please help

  4. Togot

    On August 13, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    randomperson, that sounds a little big for a tree frog. the easiest way to tell is to let the frog rest on your palm, and slowly turn your hand over, while keeping your other hand underneath in case it falls. if it can cling to your hand upside-down, it is probably a tree frog. their most distinguishing features are the suction cup tips of their toes. I hope this information helps you in your identification.

  5. hannah

    On August 26, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    we have a terrariam and there are a few american green tree frogs in it. yesterday they were mateing but i though they only did that if the femal was laying eggs, so i am confussed. does anyone know why they were doing this? i mean they are like a year or so old.

  6. Togot

    On August 27, 2008 at 2:59 am

    Hannah, are you sure they were mating? tree frogs tend to cluster together and even on top of one another so it would be easy to confuse it for mating. there are some species of frogs and toads that have a very strong mating drive, but i have never seen this in tree frogs.

  7. barb

    On August 29, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    my tree frog was in a tank with a little bit of water and when i had come of i found him to be baloted and he was in the tank so i don’t know if he drank to much water or what. PLEASE TELL ME WHAT I SHOULD dlo for him. Because i love him and i don’t want to see him die!

  8. Togot

    On August 29, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    Barb, when a frog is bloated there are several possible causes: it may have eaten something that isn’t food, such as gravel or bark in its enclosure. sometimes this can simply pass through the animals system or it can require surgery to remove. poor water quality can also cause problems that will lead to bloating. Frogs don’t actually drink, they absorb water through their skin. the chlorine in tap water destroys amphibian’s kidneys which is why I always recommend against using it. another cause common in pets is a dietary imbalance due to too much chitin in the diet. chitin is what insect exoskeletons are made out of which is why you should mix up your pets diet to include worms. you can either check these causes and try to fix them, or find an exotic pet vet to check on your animal.

  9. Poppyhop

    On September 30, 2008 at 10:36 am

    I live in indiana. I found a tree frog. are they aqutic frogs? Also my frog only has one eye. will it live?

  10. Togot

    On September 30, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    they are not aquatic in the sense that they like to swim. please read the section on housing above, and as for the eye, animals can be amazingly resilient, so the loss of an eye shouldn’t cause him too much trouble, though he may have some slight difficulty eating now that he has no depth perception.

  11. Poppyhop

    On October 1, 2008 at 6:27 am

    My tree frog disipeered! HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. Poppyhop

    On October 1, 2008 at 6:40 am

    nevermind. i found him

  13. Tania

    On October 5, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    we moved our green tree frogs into a larger terrarium the day before yesterday and there is now a jelly like substance in the uppermost leaves of the bromeliad we have in there. Has she spawned?

  14. Togot

    On October 5, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    Tania, unless you see eggs in the jelly, it is most likely the slime that tree frogs excrete to help them cling to surfaces and keep themselves moist out of water.

  15. Tania

    On October 6, 2008 at 10:22 am

    I can’t check the plant as the frogs are always in it! I can see a black dot at the top of the slime though.How else can I check or do I just have to be patient?

  16. Togot

    On October 6, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Tania, even if they are eggs, there isn’t much you need to do other than make sure they are hanging over a source of water. when the babies hatch, they should wiggle until they drop into a pool of water where they will grow up. some more exotic species of frogs carry their babies on their backs.

  17. Tania

    On October 6, 2008 at 3:51 pm

    Thanks alot for the advice

  18. Poppyhop

    On October 19, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    Awareness alert! Frogs are being found all over the USA with defects. It can be anything from 8 extra limbs, to eyeballs in the throat! Scientists don’t know whats causing it, but more and more frogs are becoming endangered because of this. Frogs can’t live long with BIG defects!

    Sincerely, Poppyhop

  19. Poppyhop

    On November 10, 2008 at 6:56 am

    how do I tame my frog?

  20. Togot

    On November 11, 2008 at 2:55 am

    Poppyhop, if you mean make your frog used to you, the best way is simply to spend time with it. be in the same room, let him see you, let him realize you are not a threat. talk to him so he gets used to your voice, and make sure he sees that you are the source of his food. if you are careful you can get to a point where he will let you touch him and even pick him up as long as you don’t clutch him tightly. he will never respond to his name or do tricks for you, but you can make it so he isn’t afraid of you.

  21. Poppyhop

    On November 18, 2008 at 2:39 pm

    i know that the frog will never do tricks, but my toad does. it sits up on its but when I say lift my finger up.

  22. frogger

    On November 29, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    I have a tree frog named sticky and the only thing he will eat is worms. Iwant to bred him but te only problem is that I cant find a female.Is it ok to have wood frogs with him. they don’t seem omind each other

  23. Togot

    On November 30, 2008 at 2:31 pm

    Frogger, as long as they are of similar size and you can provide a suitable environment for both of them, there shouldn’t be a problem

  24. Brooke

    On December 13, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    Please help !!I have a green tree frog and we don’t if it a female or male .Do females have darker white spots on their belly?

  25. togot

    On December 21, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    I’m afraid I don’t know of any physical difference, but if it croaks, or clicks it is generally a male.

  26. Brandon

    On December 31, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    I dont know what to give my frog to eat HELP PLEASE?

  27. Togot

    On January 1, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Brandon, Tree frogs love flies, but since these can be hard to provide on a regular basis, crickets will do, but I do advise you to throw in some beetles and such every now and then; nobody wants to eat the same thing everyday. Now THIS IS IMPORTANT! One of the biggest problems with feeding tree frogs is the vitamin supplement powder. Because their tanks are so moist, any powder you put on your crickets will probably wash off before they are eaten, so you have to first feed vitamins to the crickets, then feed the crickets to the frogs. You are what you eat, and what you eat ate as well

  28. Poppyhop

    On April 26, 2009 at 6:20 am

    Help! My tree frog has wedged her self behind a plant and won’t come out! Her eyes are listless. She’s breathing, though. Pleeeeeeease help me before it’s too late!!!!!!!!

  29. Togot

    On April 26, 2009 at 8:42 am

    Poppyhop, tree frogs often like to wedge themselves into tight hiding places, but if your worried about your pets health, try removing the plant, or enticing it to come out with an insect held by tweezers. dimming the lights might also help encourage her to come out.

  30. Poppyhop

    On April 27, 2009 at 12:42 pm

    Turns out, her toe was caught on the plant and she hadn’t been able to hunt. Her toe didn’t bleed, but is squashed now because it had been caught between the stem and the filter. I’m just lucky it didn’t get caught in the filter!

  31. pond lover

    On May 6, 2009 at 8:06 am

    i have a question how do you feed vitamins to the crickets?

  32. Togot

    On May 6, 2009 at 6:35 pm

    pond lover, you feed them cricket food which you get at pet stores. this food is loaded with vitamins which the crickets absorb and in turn your pets absorb by eating the crickets

  33. Poppyhop

    On May 22, 2009 at 6:01 am

    my tree frog spent too much time underwater. I got worried about her, so I fished her out and put her on a plant. She’s just kinda sitting on the plant, barely breathing and looking down. What should I do to help her?

  34. Togot

    On May 23, 2009 at 8:32 pm

    Poppyhop, it sounds like your frog may be sick, but i can’t diagnose it with a description. my advice is to take it to an exotic pet vet for treatment.

  35. Abby

    On March 24, 2010 at 4:52 am

    My green tree frog Hopper II has always been extremly healthy..I love him very much and take very good care of him…today i caught 3 flies and fed them to him, but now [about and hour or two later] he is bloated under his chin and stomache area…please help me! Im only 17 and dont know much frogs, but Im willing to learn anything to help him

  36. Togot

    On March 28, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Abby, he may have eaten something else along with the flies, possibly some debris in the tank. In serious cases this causes compaction which blocks up the digestive system and can lead to death, but if you’re only noticing it now it might not be too serious yet. Don’t feed him for a few days and see if the problem goes away. If not he may need surgery to fix the problem.

  37. FroggyFreak

    On April 19, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Hi Togot, first i’d like to say your site is wonderful and the help you give is admirable:) We just found a tree frog and brung him home so he is new to the family. Just have a few questions; first is, when cleaning the tank can you use anything? I thought since he clings to the side of course it couldn’t be deturgent based, but maybe household vinegar. The second is, what kind of live plants can be put in the tank with him? An example is, I thougth about but a layer of dirt at the bottom of the tank and wanted to add some plants. Again thank you for the information that you have already supplied it was very helpful in gettin us started:)

  38. Togot

    On April 21, 2010 at 3:31 am

    FroggyFreak, it doesn’t matter what you use to clean the tank as much as how well you rinse and dry it before putting your pet back into it. As long as you remove any chemicals that your pet can absorb through its skin, it should be alright. As for the plants, anything with large leaves for your frog to sit on should make it happy.

  39. Kathy Gittleman

    On April 27, 2010 at 7:57 am

    Togot… You information provided is wonderful.I googled frog identification and yur blog came up./

    Yesterday we purchased A bunch of hanging ferns at a Walmart and when going to hang them on the prch we relized we go a surprize gift! Yes I believe it is a tree frog. I just happen to have a small tank and set up a habitat for the frog. Wee we have name it “Fern” due to where we found it.

    It is greyish in color, with suction cup feet. I goes in and out of the water, and I have noticed it likes tocongegate high in the tank and balls itself up into a 1″ oval shaped blob in the upper corner of the tank by the lid.

    How would I find out what specific type of tree frog it is. And does this sound like it is safe to keep as a pet. The first thing my husband wants me to find out is if it could be poisonous.
    Thanks

  40. lisa oliveri

    On June 14, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    i live in pennsylvania,i took a picture of a frog stuck to the side of my house last night,it turned out to be a tree frog(i think),is it normal for this frog to be in pa,or is it probably someones pet?

  41. CHELSIE

    On June 29, 2010 at 11:47 am

    HELLO MY SON HAS A TREE FROG AN I HAVE BEEN CARING FOR IT..AN LATELY I HAVE NOTICED THAT IT WENT FROM BEING A LIME GREEN TO A DARK GREEN WITH BLACK SPOTS…….IS THAT OK OR IS IT SICK SHOULD I LET GO?

  42. Togot

    On July 1, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Kathy Gittleman, I’m sorry it took so long for me to respond to this, but somehow I just didn’t see this comment until now. I hope this site will help identify him, if you haven’t already. http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=tree+frog+species&FORM=IGRE&qpvt=tree+frog+species#
    As for being poisonous, your husband is probably thinking of poison arrow frogs. These frogs are usually very bright in color and can be dangerous to keep as pets if you don’t get them from a pet store. They don’t create poison on their own however, they eat poisonous insects and steal it from them, so those raised in captivity aren’t dangerous.

  43. Togot

    On July 1, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    lisa oliveri, it would depend on the species. Tree frogs in general live throughout much of the world.

  44. Togot

    On July 1, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Chelsie, a change in color, especially to a darker tone, usually means a frog is about to shed its skin.

  45. FrogFan

    On July 30, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Dear Togot,
    Could you help me? I found tree frog tadpoles in a puddle and two are already frogs, but I still don\\\’t know what kind they are. They are lime green with brown legs and gold eyes, but they don\\\’t have that white stripe that the Green Tree Frog has. The tadpoles look like bull frog tadpoles, but the ones that have back legs have suction cups on their feet. Thank you!

  46. FrogFan

    On July 30, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Dear Togot,

    I caught some tree frog tadpoles and two already lost their tails. But none of the descriptions or pictures seem to match mine. They are lime green with brown legs and gold eyes with a white underside. The tadpoles look like bull frog tadpoles (I’ve raised those, too) but the ones that have back legs have suction cups already. Think you can help? Thanks!

  47. Togot

    On July 31, 2010 at 5:38 am

    FrogFan, here is a large list with images of tree frog species that i hope will be helpful. http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=tree+frog+species&FORM=IGRE&qpvt=tree+frog+species#

  48. Sqiggles

    On August 20, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Last week my son brought home a wee tree frog (about the size of a dime). We set it up a lovely enclosure in an old 5 gallon fish tank.
    Today he brought home a much larger tree frog (about the size of a small plum). Can we keep them in the same enclosure?

    Squiggles

  49. Togot

    On August 21, 2010 at 4:43 am

    Sqiggles, there is always a chance that frogs will eat smaller frogs if they can, so it’s not a good idea to keep them together if there is a large difference in their size

  50. poppyhop

    On August 30, 2010 at 10:55 am

    My tree frog, Minty, died. I just found him laying across the dirt, all dried up and black. What happened?

  51. Jenny

    On August 30, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Our house is being invaded by tree frogs. I’m finding them in every room, climbing up the walls, on the floor, upstairs and downstairs. We live in the east central part of Indiana and haven’t had any rain in weeks.

    Why do you think they are coming inside the house?

  52. Togot

    On August 31, 2010 at 3:30 am

    Poppyhop, it might be the dried up part that killed him. Tree frogs require a lot of moisture and humidity. Other than that, I really can’t say without more information.

  53. Togot

    On August 31, 2010 at 3:35 am

    Jenny, the lack of rain is the most likely reason. If it’s dry outside, the frogs might be trying to find a more humid/moist, climate-controlled environment so they won‘t dry out and die. Normally they would climb into tree crevices, caves, or burry themselves in such conditions, but a human home is probably just as inviting to them.

  54. Sqiggles

    On September 11, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Hello Togot;

    We live in southern BC. We have 3, what we believe are pacific tree frogs, that my son found and brought home. They seem to be thriving in the enclosures we have set up for them.

    Now that Fall is upon us we are wondering if they would continue to thrive over the winter or if we should consider releasing them so they can hibernate. Any advice?

  55. Togot

    On September 13, 2010 at 2:20 am

    Sqiggles, you don’t have to hibernate frogs and toads, though not doing so means they won’t live as long because hibernation is similar to suspended animation. The animals might stop eating during these months, going into a hibernation-like state even if kept at room temperature. You can try to let them hibernate in their enclosure if you can gradually bring the temp down to between 40-50 degrees, but it’s usually difficult to do so indoors. In the end, the decision is up to you on which option you prefer

  56. Hallowheart

    On November 13, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Togot,
    I have a young Pacific Tree Frog. I wasn’t sure what gender it is, but its throat is beginning to grow darker so I’m starting to believe it is male. Also, it has begun making very loud noises.
    However, I’m really confused about the noise it is making–Pacific Tree Frog’s are known for their call, because they are a chorus frog, but mine makes really strange clicking noises that sound like a tongue against the roof of a mouth!
    Is this just because he is young?

  57. Togot

    On November 14, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Hallowheart, frogs make various noises for different reasons.

  58. zorski

    On November 17, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    what a great web site and blog.
    I have bringing home pacific treefrog tadpoles from a water nursery all summer.. I even had my gardener build me a tadpole/frog pond to keep them separate from my koi and help them propagate.
    every year i do this, and i haven’t hear the ribbit in the spring. i have garden snakes (which i understand are rare around here-i have no lawn, just garden beds-so no herbicides or pesticides-must be why the snakes like my yard.) so i suspected they are getting to the frogs before the frogs are big enough to get out of the way.
    so i set up an aquarium in the house with 11 tadpoles. so far i have seen five morph into frogs. thent he froglets disappeared. i do have a pot full of dirt in the aquarium. do the frogs automatically bury themselves in the dirt for the winter? i plan on only keeping one or two in the house next spring and releasing the others-i assume they will automatically know how to fend for themselves.
    zorski

  59. Togot

    On November 18, 2010 at 4:24 am

    Zorski, if conditions are right, frogs will burry themselves for winter, and they do automatically know how to fend for themselves. Tree frogs are also very good climbers, so they may have gotten out of the tank, but don’t try to dig them up to check

  60. zbc53@comcast.net

    On November 18, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    wow thanks. yes i know not to try to find them, and they can\’t get out of the tank.
    some facts re: hatching tadpoles in your own aquarium.
    i used natural pond water ( my pond is clean and does not circulate with any outside water sources).
    i used duckweed, water lettuce and frogbit (aquatic plants), hornwort and some gravel and few sticks to climb out and fortuitously a pot of dirt.
    I didn\’t need to artificially oxygenate the water since the hornwort etc did it for me. the tadpoles eat the duckweed and beneficial creatures on the roots of the aquatic plants.
    I also used a spotlight and a full spectrum light all day to mimic the outdoor sun and let the tadpoles bask like they do outside.
    it is so fun to watch them morph and see tiny frogs sitting on the leaves of the lettuce.
    petsmart has wingless fruitflies, and small crickets which i will give them when they wake up next spring.
    it\’s easy to breed your own fruitflies with an enclosed plastic container and rotting fruit once you get some from your local pet store or amphibian/reptile pet shop.
    i will probably keep 2 in the house as long as they don\’t keep me up at night with their ribbiting, so what should i supplement their diet with besides fruitflies and crickets, and do i need to add vitamins since in the wild they don\’t get them from humans.

  61. Togot

    On November 19, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    zbc53@comcast.net, it sounds like you have a pretty good setup. I use a vitamin spray on the crickets I feed to mine since their diet in captivity is more limited than it is in the wild. I also give them the occasional earth worm.

  62. dtxleblanc

    On April 10, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    any suggestion our frog has escaped and we cannot find him. Thanks

  63. Togot

    On April 10, 2011 at 8:50 pm

    dtxleblanc, He is probably someplace dark, such as under a bed. Probably trying to find moisture. You can try putting out a shallow bowl of water. His greatest danger is drying out.

  64. jazmine

    On May 23, 2012 at 1:32 am

    I caught a lime green tree frog outside..he is wonderfully beautiful! I love to hear his deep throaty croaked..but I’m worried his habitat is not quite right. I have about two inches of pebble and water barely to the top of them with no dirt only fake broad leaf plants a couple of twigs and one real broad leaf. I feed him crickets from the store and moths and such that I catch outside but the crickets he eats seem to be coming out practically WHOLE! Plz help…thnx Jasmine

  65. jazmine

    On May 23, 2012 at 1:37 am

    And I have no filter in the water a.d a heating lamp lid how should I regulate it?

  66. Togot

    On June 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Jazmine, try adding more heat to the tank to help with digestion. As for the water, it would be best to simply change it when you clean the tank.

  67. Anicia

    On August 26, 2012 at 11:14 pm

    I caught a tree frog a few months back and set up an aquarium for it. I cut the bottom off a milk container and put it in one side and put pebbles all around it up to the edge and a small layer on the bottom. I also keep a large rock In it that barely sticks up over the water. The other half of the aquarium I layered with dirt equally tall and grew grass on that half along with a small plant I bought. I keep lots of sticks all over it and keep the temp at apron 70 with a lamp. I also have a juvenile crested gecko in the tank. I feed both of them crickets once a week and keep a cap of baby food in at all times. The past few nights however the tree frog has been making strange noises. Before it never made a sound. My mom described it as almost sounding like a monkey and when I hear it I’ll go look at him and his stomach and throat will be all swelled up. Why is he making this noise? And do you think the habitat is ok for him?

  68. Togot

    On September 11, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Anicia, that’s likely the frog’s matting call, and it sounds like a nice setup for him

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