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Green Tree Frog (Hyla cinerea)

Green Tree Frog
(Photo by John Pickering)

Introduction: Green tree frogs are a medium-sized, arboreal frogs, native to the southeast United States. They grow to between 1.5 and 2 inches (4 cm and 5 cm), and vary in color from lime green to brown depending on environmental conditions, such as temperature, humidity, and light intensity. Most green tree frogs have a cream or yellow stripe that runs from the side of their head, down to their hind legs. In addition to this stripe, occasional frogs also have small yellow spots scattered on their back. Their ventral side is white. Albino green tree frogs are occasionally available from breeders and specialty reptile dealers.

Nearly all green tree frogs in the pet trade are wild-caught, and frequently arrive at pet stores in poor health. When selecting a green tree frog, avoid any with open soars, irregular coloration, unusual swelling, or severe rostral abrasions. They are nocturnal animals, and healthy frogs remain asleep during the day unless they are disturbed or notice food. Stress is also a common problem with recent wild-caught green tree frogs, so it’s important to monitor them closely for the first few weeks they are being cared for. It may be helpful to individually quarantine green tree frogs for a month in order to closely observe each individual and monitor their health. They are most often caught during the breeding season in the spring, and during the late fall and winter it can be difficult to locate them for sale.

Cage: Green tree frogs are active amphibians at night and deserve plenty of room in captivity. A 15 gallon high aquarium that measures 20 inches long by 10 inches wide by 18 inches high (51cm by 25cm by 46cm) is large enough three or four adult frogs, although more room is better. A secure screen cover is essential to prevent escapes. It may be helpful to cover three sides of the cage with black poster board or aquarium background to reduce stress and make the frogs feel secure.

A substrate that is easy to clean, holds moisture, and can not be swallowed, or is safe if swallowed, should be provided. A safe soil, such as coconut husk fiber (bed-a-beast, forest bed, eco earth, etc.) works well. Other substrates that can be used include moist paper towels, foam rubber, or large river rocks. Do not use reptile carpeting because the rough surface can irritate tree frogs, and avoid gravel, sand or small pieces of bark because they can be dangerous if swallowed. In addition to the substrate, perches and hide spots should be provided. Driftwood, cork bark tubes, bamboo poles, or even PVC pipe segments can be positioned at different angles in the cage to form perches. Fake or live plants provide cover, working particularly well when draped over the abovementioned perches.

Temperature and Humidity: During the day, the cage should stay between 72°F (22°C) and 80°F (26.5°C). At night the temperature in the cage can drop to 65°F (18°C) without harm. Green tree frogs are tolerant of occasional days outside of this temperature range. The cage can be heated with a low wattage incandescent light bulb during cool months of the year if needed.

The humidity level in the cage can vary. Consider misting the cage with water several times a week to bring about temporary increases in humidity. If the ambient humidity level in your house is very low during certain times of the year, you can restrict ventilation on the cage and mist more often.

Water: Provide a shallow water dish with clean water in it. This will need to be changed every day or when it appears dirty. Treat tap water with tap water conditioner to remove chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals or use bottled spring water.

Food: Green tree frogs accept a variety of feeders, including live crickets, wax worms, mealworms, small silkworms, red worms, moths, and flies. The size of the food item being fed should be about the length of the width of the frog’s head, although many green tree frogs are capable of taking larger prey. The majority of their diet should consist of crickets, with other food items being substituted for them every few feedings. Feed adult frogs two to six feeders every other or every two days depending on the size of the frog and food being offered. Juvenile frogs should be fed daily. High quality reptile vitamin and mineral supplements should be dusted onto their food every two to four feedings for adults, and more often for juveniles.

Last Updated 06.05.05

Online Resources - Green Tree Frog Care
Green Tree Frog Care Sheet By Frogland
Grizzly Run - Green Tree Frog Care
Mellisa Kaplin's Green Tree Frog Care Sheet
Tree Frog Care
University Of Michigan - Green Tree Frogs
USGS - Hyla cinerea