Red-eyed Tree Frog
Red-eyed tree frog, red-eyed leaf frog
Adults measure 2 to 3 inches (5 cm to 7.6 cm) in length. Males are smaller than females.
As their name suggests, the most apparent feature of red-eyed tree frogs is their red eyes. Certain southern populations have darker burgundy-colored eyes. Their dorsum and legs are green, and the sides of their body are striped in blue and yellow. The shade and amount of blue or yellow varies between populations. To compliment their red-eyes, they have bright orange feet with large toe pads. The ventral side of red-eyed tree frogs is a solid white or crème color. There are also several commercially bred color morphs including xanthic/lutino, black, and albino.
Distribution, Habitat and Behavior
Central America, from southern Mexico through Panama with reports also from northern Colombia. They live in and around humid forests, especially near ponds and other water bodies where they breed. Up to 100 or more eggs are laid in clumps on vegetation that hangs over water. Red-eyed tree frogs are nocturnal and spend the days asleep on leaves where they conceal their bright coloration.
Frequently available from pet stores, pet dealers, and breeders. Red-eyed tree frogs sourced from the wild usually originate from Nicaragua. Captive-bred stock is a better option and can easily be located through private breeders or dealers if not available locally.
When selecting a red-eyed tree frog, purchase one born in captivity over those that are wild-caught. Captive-bred red-eyed tree frogs are generally healthier, less stressed, and easier to care for initially. Avoid purchasing frogs that are smaller than ¾ inch (1.9 cm) in length.
Do not purchase frogs that have patchy coloration (their dorsal side should be uniformly green), and pass up any individual that displays unusual behavior, such as sleeping on the ground or having difficulty shedding its skin. Bacterial infections and internal parasites are two common problems associated with wild-caught red-eyed tree frogs that may need the attention of an experienced veterinarian.
A standard 20 gallon aquarium that measures 24 inches long by 12 inches wide by 16 inches high (61 cm by 30 cm by 40 cm) is large enough for two to four adult frogs. Young frogs can be kept in smaller enclosures. A secure screen cover is essential to prevent escapes.
Possible substrates include coconut husk fiber, sphagnum moss, or moist paper towels. Red-eyed tree frogs can also be kept in living terrariums that contain live plants. Some breeders also have success using no substrate at all, especially in enclosures outfitted with a drain which can easily be hosed down with water regularly for cleaning. Small gravel and pieces of bark should be avoided because they may cause problems if accidentally ingested while the frogs are feeding.
In addition to a substrate, red-eyed tree frogs should be provided with surfaces on which to sleep and climb on. Live or artificial plants that have large leaves and will support the weight of a frog are best. Driftwood, cork bark tubes, vines, bamboo poles, and pieces of PVC pipe can also be used. Provide a photoperiod of 10-12 hours per day with a flourescent light positioned above the enclosure, and consider offering low levels of UVB if possible.
Temperature and Humidity
Red-eyed tree frogs are native to humid forests in Central America and the temperature and humidity level that they are kept at should reflect this environment. During the day the temperature can range from 75°F to 85°F (24°C to 29°C). At night the temperature can drop by 5-10°F. Avoid drafty conditions where the temperature fluctuates widely, keeping the enclosure away from doors or windows. A small infrared light bulb can be used to heat the terrarium during both the day and night if necessary.
Maintain moderate to high humidity levels, usually above 60%. This can be accomplished by misting the cage with water daily. In particularly dry households or times of the year, you may find it necessary to restrict ventilation by taping a piece of glass or plastic wrap over part of the screen cage cover.
A source of clean water should be available to frogs at all times. If tap water from a municipality is used it should be treated with an aquarium water conditioner to remove chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals. Change the water daily.
Red-eyed tree frogs can be fed a diet that consists largely of crickets. Flying insects such as moths or houseflies can be substituted for crickets every few feedings. Wax worms, small silkworms and other insect larvae are also accepted, but should be placed in a feeding dish so that they are noticed before they have time to hide or burrow into the substrate.
Feed adult red-eyed tree frogs around three to six food items every two to three days. Juveniles should be fed daily. Adults should have their food coated with high quality vitamin and mineral supplements once every couple feedings, while juveniles should have their food dusted with supplements daily. It’s best to feed at night when red-eyed tree frogs are active and on the hunt, although frogs will learn to wake up and feed during the day after some time.