Common Name: White’s tree frog, dumpy tree frog
Scientific Name: Litoria caerulea
Adult Size: Three to five inches long
Life Expectancy: Typically up to 7-10 years, although over 20 years has been reported
White’s tree frog, also known as the dumpy tree frog, is a fantastic choice for novice frog enthusiasts. These green or blue-green frogs, native to Australia, Indonesia, and New Guinea, are beloved for their compact size and charming facial features, including seemingly drowsy eyes and a seemingly smiling mouth. Their skin has a waxy coating that allows them to tolerate relatively drier conditions compared to other tree frog species, making them well-suited for a variety of home environments.
Behavior and Temperament
White’s tree frogs are primarily nocturnal creatures, meaning they are more active during the evening and night hours. These frogs are generally sedentary and docile, often becoming quite tame and amenable to handling. They are also social animals and can thrive with a companion.
It’s essential to note that amphibians, including White’s tree frogs, have highly permeable skin, making them sensitive to environmental contaminants. Therefore, handling them requires extreme care.
In their natural habitat, White’s tree frogs spend most of their time in trees, so providing an enclosure with plenty of climbing opportunities is essential. A vertical or high-sided 15 to 20-gallon aquarium is recommended for a single adult frog, and a hexagonal tank can be an ideal choice. A secure lid is crucial because these frogs have adhesive footpads that allow them to easily scale the glass walls of an aquarium.
Multiple frogs can be housed together as long as they are of similar size, as larger frogs may attempt to prey on smaller ones. To prevent frogs from rubbing their noses on the glass in an attempt to explore beyond the enclosure, consider placing a strip of paper a few inches tall around the outside of the tank. Frogs do not perceive transparent barriers well, but they understand opaque boundaries.
To create a suitable habitat, provide numerous branches, sizeable cork bark pieces, and foliage for climbing. These surfaces should be robust enough to support the weight of these stocky frogs. When using live plants, make sure they are substantial and pesticide-free. Potting live plants in small, movable containers can simplify tank cleaning.
Covering the back of the tank with dark paper allows the frog to find a secluded and dimly lit area for daytime resting. Placing a large piece of bark diagonally across the cage provides a hiding spot for the frog. Thick plant covers or interior structures with multiple exits can also create hideouts for resting frogs.
Daily spot-cleaning is necessary, removing any large waste matter from the tank. Change the water dish daily, using non-chlorinated water.
Heating and Lighting
Create a temperature gradient within the enclosure. Place a basking light or heater on one side of the cage to maintain temperatures between 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day, with a nighttime drop to 68-75 degrees F. Confirm temperature accuracy using both handheld and tank-side thermometers.
Lighting should be subdued, and if necessary at night, use a nocturnal bulb. A regular light-dark cycle of 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness suits these nocturnal frogs. While exposure to UVB is not essential, it won’t harm White’s tree frogs. A 5% UVB source can be used if UVB exposure is desired.
Even though White’s tree frogs are arboreal, a suitable substrate helps recreate and maintain their native warm and wet tropical habitat. Begin by lining the tank’s floor with large-sized washed gravel, topped with chemical-free soil. Use large bark pieces for added structure and cover any exposed soil with sphagnum moss to retain the moisture necessary for humidity.
Avoid using small gravel or bark shavings that frogs might accidentally ingest. Some keepers prefer minimal substrate, such as paper or paper towels, for temporary tanks to ease cleaning. However, maintaining appropriate humidity is more challenging with this substrate approach.
Maintaining proper humidity is vital for White’s tree frogs. You can achieve this by misting the enclosure daily to keep the environment humid. A shallow water dish should be provided for drinking and soaking. Ensure that the water is dechlorinated and changed daily to prevent the buildup of harmful chemicals.
Habitat and Temperature
When creating the ideal habitat for White’s tree frog, it’s important to consider temperature, lighting, substrate, and humidity. To maintain the right temperature gradient, place a basking light or heater on one side of the enclosure. This setup should result in a daytime temperature range of 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit and a nighttime drop to 68-75 degrees F. To ensure accurate temperature readings, use both handheld and tank-side thermometers.
For lighting, opt for subdued illumination. If you need to provide light at night, use a nocturnal bulb, as these frogs are nocturnal and don’t require special lighting. Establish a regular light-dark cycle of 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness. While exposure to UVB is not mandatory, it won’t harm your White’s tree frogs. If you wish to include UVB exposure, utilize a 5% UVB source.
Substrate and Humidity
Creating a suitable substrate is crucial for mimicking the warm and humid tropical environment these frogs hail from. Start by covering the tank’s floor with large-sized washed gravel and top it with chemical-free soil. To create further structure, incorporate large pieces of bark, and ensure any exposed soil is covered with sphagnum moss to retain necessary moisture and humidity.
Avoid small gravel or bark shavings that frogs might accidentally ingest. Some keepers prefer a simpler substrate, using paper or paper towels to ease cleaning in temporary tanks. However, it’s challenging to maintain proper humidity with minimal floor covering.
To regulate humidity, use a hygrometer inside the tank. Keep the relative humidity between 60 to 70 percent by misting the enclosure daily with dechlorinated or bottled (non-distilled) water. Another option is to install rain bars at the top of the enclosure. Provide a water dish with the same water, but remember to let all water used in the enclosure sit in an open container at room temperature for 24 to 48 hours to off-gas any dissolved gases and reach room temperature.
Fresh tap water should not be used with frogs due to the presence of chlorine and chloramine used in the water purification process. If you must use chlorinated water, treat it with a dechlorination kit available at pet stores. Alternatively, use bottled water, but avoid distilled water as it lacks essential minerals.
Diet and Feeding Schedule
When it comes to feeding your White’s tree frogs, providing a diverse and nutritious diet is crucial for their well-being. Here’s a list of suitable food options for your pet:
- Live Crickets
- Insecticide-Free Moths
Variety in their diet is essential to ensure they receive a wide range of nutrients. However, it’s important to be mindful of the quantity you feed them, as White’s tree frogs are prone to obesity. Here are some feeding guidelines:
- Large Frogs (greater than three inches long): Feed them a few large crickets every two to three days. Adjust the frequency based on the frog’s activity level and body condition.
- Smaller Frogs: Offer them three-week-old crickets approximately every two to three days.
- Juveniles: Feed them daily.
To determine the appropriate amount of food, it’s best to assess the frog’s body condition. Look for ridges just above the frog’s eardrum. If you don’t see any noticeable ridges, the frog might be underweight and should be fed a larger volume or more frequently. On the other hand, if the ridges become prominent and start to sag or fold over, the frog may be obese. In this case, reduce feedings by no more than 50 percent gradually over time.
It’s essential to ensure that the insects you feed to your frogs are well-nourished. Gut-loading the insects with nutritious foods, preferably 24 hours before feeding, can provide your frogs with better quality nutrition. Additionally, dust the prey items with a calcium-vitamin supplement. Here’s a general guideline for dusting frequency:
- Mature Frogs: Dust prey items once a week.
- Mid-Sized Frogs: Dust two or three times a week.
- Very Young Frogs: Dust prey items daily.
Frogs often use their water dish not only for drinking but also for rehydration and soaking. Therefore, use a water dish that is spacious enough for the frog to comfortably sit in it, with the water level typically just below their nostrils when sitting. Be cautious not to make the water too deep, as White’s tree frogs are not strong swimmers, and there should be no risk of drowning.
By providing a balanced and appropriately sized diet, you can help ensure that your White’s tree frogs remain healthy and maintain an ideal body condition throughout their lives.
Health and Common Issues
One of the most critical concerns for White’s tree frogs is the potential threat of chytridiomycosis, a disease caused by the chytrid fungus. This fatal condition spreads rapidly in the wild and has led to a significant decline in amphibian populations worldwide. Chytridiomycosis is characterized by symptoms such as lethargy and weight loss, and unfortunately, very few effective treatments are available.
To protect your frogs from this devastating disease, consider the following measures:
- Quarantine: If you plan to introduce new frogs into your collection, it’s essential to quarantine them in a separate enclosure for an extended period before introducing them to your existing frogs. This helps ensure that they are disease-free.
- Biosecurity: Practice good biosecurity by maintaining strict hygiene when handling your frogs. Avoid cross-contamination between different frog enclosures by thoroughly washing your hands and any equipment used in their care.
- Regular Monitoring: Continuously monitor your frogs for signs of chytridiomycosis and other health issues. If you notice any unusual behavior or symptoms, such as lethargy or weight loss, consult a veterinarian experienced in amphibian health.
- Water Quality: Maintain clean and dechlorinated water in your frog’s habitat to minimize stress and prevent skin issues, which can make them more susceptible to diseases.
- Environmental Management: Ensure that your frog’s habitat is well-maintained with appropriate temperature, humidity, and hygiene to create conditions that are less favorable for the growth of the chytrid fungus.
While chytridiomycosis remains a significant concern, proactive management and disease prevention can help safeguard the health of your White’s tree frogs and contribute to the conservation of amphibians in captivity.
Acquiring White’s Tree Frogs
When considering acquiring a White’s tree frog as a pet, it’s essential to be aware of the costs and the importance of selecting a healthy, disease-free frog:
- Cost: Expect to invest around $30 for a White’s tree frog, making them an affordable choice for amphibian enthusiasts.
- Importance of Reputable Breeders: Chytrid fungus exposure is a primary concern when purchasing White’s tree frogs. To mitigate this risk, it is crucial to source your frog from reputable breeders. These breeders not only ensure that the frogs are disease-free but also verify that they have been captive bred. Captive-bred frogs tend to be hardier and better adapted to the captive environment.
- Captive-Bred vs. Wild-Caught: Captive-bred White’s tree frogs are generally better suited to captivity, as they have not experienced the stresses of the wild. In contrast, wild-caught frogs may struggle to adapt to the conditions of captivity, and their health may be compromised.
- Potential for Parasites and Infections: Wild-caught amphibians can introduce parasites and infections to your habitat, which can be detrimental to the health of your frog and other pets. This is another reason to choose captive-bred frogs.
- Sources: Reptile shows and online breeders are reliable sources for obtaining White’s tree frogs. However, exercise caution when purchasing a frog you haven’t personally observed. Ideally, you should be able to witness the frog eat, as a healthy appetite is a positive indicator of good health.
Pros and Cons of Keeping White’s Tree Frogs as Pets
White’s tree frogs make wonderful pets for those interested in amphibian care, but like any pet, they come with their own set of advantages and challenges:
- Ideal for Beginners: White’s tree frogs are an excellent choice for novice amphibian keepers. Their docile nature and adaptability make them a welcoming introduction to the world of frog ownership.
- Manageable Size: These frogs are relatively small, growing to a maximum length of around three to five inches. Their compact size makes them suitable for smaller living spaces.
- Tolerant of Handling: White’s tree frogs tend to be comfortable with gentle handling. While it’s important to minimize handling to reduce stress, they are generally amenable to short, supervised interactions.
- Low-Maintenance: Compared to some other pets, these frogs are relatively low-maintenance. They don’t require daily attention, making them a good option for those with busy schedules.
- Sensitive Skin: White’s tree frogs have particularly delicate skin that is prone to issues. Bacterial and fungal skin infections can occur, so it’s essential to maintain proper humidity levels and water quality in their habitat.
- Habitat Monitoring: Keeping White’s tree frogs healthy requires careful and consistent monitoring of their enclosure. This includes regulating temperature, humidity, and lighting to create a suitable environment that mimics their natural habitat.
- Sensitivity to Environment: These frogs are highly sensitive to changes in their environment. Any abrupt changes or imbalances in their habitat can lead to stress and health issues.
- Long Lifespan: While it’s not necessarily a con, it’s crucial to be aware that White’s tree frogs have a relatively long lifespan for amphibians, with some individuals living up to 20 years. This means a long-term commitment to their care.
To enhance your frog’s habitat, consider adding additional enrichments such as branches, climbing opportunities, and hiding spots. Providing a dynamic environment can stimulate natural behaviors and reduce stress in your frogs.
Reproduction and Breeding
Breeding White’s tree frogs can be a rewarding but complex endeavor. It may involve creating specific environmental conditions, such as simulating a rainy season, to induce breeding behavior. It’s essential to research and prepare for the breeding process if you plan to engage in this aspect of frog husbandry.
Health and Veterinary Care
Regularly monitor your frogs for signs of illness, such as changes in skin color, lethargy, swelling, or altered eating habits. In case of concerning symptoms, consult a veterinarian experienced in treating amphibians.
By addressing these additional aspects of White’s tree frog care, you can ensure that your pet frogs thrive in captivity and enjoy a healthy and fulfilling life.
Handling and Interaction
While White’s tree frogs can become tolerant of handling, it’s essential to limit this interaction to a minimum. Handling should be done with clean, moist hands to avoid transferring toxins to their sensitive skin. The focus should be on observing their natural behaviors and enjoying their presence rather than frequent handling.
Decor and Enrichment
In addition to branches and live plants, consider adding various hiding spots, such as hollow logs, coconut hides, and cork bark tubes. Providing a diverse and enriching environment will encourage natural behaviors and reduce stress in your frogs.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Perform a thorough cleaning of the enclosure every few weeks. Remove uneaten insects, waste, and any contaminated substrate. Replace substrate as needed to maintain a clean and hygienic environment for your frogs.
Establish a regular feeding schedule for your frogs, offering a variety of insects every few days. Adjust the quantity based on the frog’s age, size, and appetite. Be attentive to their feeding habits and adjust as needed.
By providing a comprehensive care routine for your White’s tree frogs, taking into account all these aspects, you can ensure that your pet frogs thrive and enjoy a long and healthy life in captivity.