How do I feed a young tree frog that is too small to eat crickets?

“I am a nature lover and I work with kids. I am always bringing in critters in to show the kids and your site is very good about giving me info on some that I have found.

Today, I had a parent bring in a very young gray tree frog. Smaller than I have seen. With feeding, how would you go about that? Most crickets could eat this little fellow. Would I chop earth or wax worms?”

There are a number of foods that you can use, but you’re right to be careful. Feeding crickets or other insects that are too large can lead to big problems.

As a general rule, frogs can usually eat food items that are as long as the width of their head.

Of course there are exceptions. For example, many frogs happily consume earthworms as a regular part of their diet that are much longer than the width of their head, and there are also frogs with specialized diets that are fairly large but need tiny food.

For your gray tree frog, even at just after metamorphosis they should be able to eat crickets. The trick will be getting young crickets. Most pet stores sell three sizes: small, medium, and large and the smalls are usually quarter inch.

Cricket breeders that supply pet stores, though, do sell smaller sizes, including eighth inch long crickets and “pinheads” which have just hatched from eggs and are literally about the size of a pinhead. These may be the size crickets you need, so I would recommend seeing if you can have your local pet store order some.

If not, I think you have the right idea: find other sources of food. Wax worms and chopped earth worm probably won’t work, although they are worth trying. Sometimes dangling these items in front of a sleeping tree frog during the day can invoke a feeding response, but if they are just left in a dish I doubt they will be eaten.

Instead, I would go for flightless fruit flies. You can buy cultures of these online and many pet stores that sell reptiles and amphibians also sell these.

You could also have your students search for frog food outside. Leaf litter collected from a pesticide free site can be sorted and the little arthropods within used to feed the frog until it is large enough to take crickets.

Aphids (perhaps found as pests in a school garden?) would be another option.

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