Melissa Kaplan's
Herp Care Collection
Last updated January 1, 2014

The basic care of the green tree frog

Hylidae cinerea

©1996 Tim Matta


The green tree frog is native to the south-eastern parts of the United States. They are commonly seen in Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas, and southern Georgia in the local shrubbery of the neighborhoods. They can be heard calling at night in the spring and early summer along side lagoons and ponds. They are a simple yet attractive frog that can make an interesting and neat but easy to care for pet. In this document I will go over the care and maintenance of this frog and hopefully clear up any questions anyone may have if you already own one.

Since your frog is native to a semi-tropical climate it will obviously need a semi-tropical setup. You will want to start with the enclosure itself. Glass aquariums work the best not only because they are easy to clean but they make for good visibility inside. You will want to use nothing less than a 10 gallon. Since this is a tree frog, an enclosure that is taller than it is longer would work the best. A screen top is also required for security reasons and good ventilation.

As for the substrate, I use Astroturf which can be easily purchased at your local hardware store or even a pet store. You can also use the reptile carpeting. I feel these substrates work the best because there is no risk of a frog ingesting anything while feeding.

As for cage furniture, you can use driftwood, cork bark, sticks and branches (warning: anything you collect from the outside must first be soaked in a mild bleach and water solution overnight, then soaked in water for another night and allowed to thoroughly air dry to kill any bacteria or bugs that may harm your frogs. Be sure the items are not releasing any fumes when they are placed into the enclosure).

You will also need some kind of foliage. You can use fake or live plants, but unless you are setting up a very large and elaborate setup, fake are the best as live plants are hard to keep alive indoors, unless you are planning on using air plants. Those work well, but make sure you don't let them dry out (avoid keeping these plants under or over heat sources).

You will want to place the sticks and any wood pieces on diagonals from corner to corner and on slant from high to low. You will also have to supply your frogs with de-chlorinated water for soaking and defecation. This water must be changed every day or when dirtied to prevent bacterial infections!! The best container for this is a shallow bowl with about 1 to 2 inches of water. You can use anything that is heavy enough the frogs can't knock over, although a store bought water bowl specially made for terrariums will look the best and add a realistic flair to your enclosure.

Since these frogs are nocturnal you do not need any special incandescent or fluorescent lighting.

For heat you can use under tank heaters situated under one end of the enclosure (not in the middle). NOTE: Do not use these heaters (undertank) with wood enclosures!! You may want to put a rock over the area that is being heated to absorb heat. My frogs constantly use this method to obtain heat. Another heating method is to use a nocturnal heat lamp (no larger than 15 watts) situated over a high point in the enclosure. (Make sure there is a screen cover between the lamp and the frogs!!) My frogs also seem to enjoy this method.

Your frogs are insectivores and will take small insects that they can easily fit in their mouths. I find crickets to be the best because they are readily available and are easy to breed on your own. Whatever the food, make sure the insects have a day in their own enclosure to get some food. T-Rex sells a cricket food for gut-loading that I use and find to be very inexpensive and good. The food contains extra calcium so the frogs will benefit from the nutrient rich gut of the insects. You will also want to coat the food with calcium and multi-vitamin supplements about 3 times a week. The frogs also need to be misted once a day with de-chlorinated water. Do all spraying in the morning to prevent any bacterial buildup.

You should thoroughly clean the enclosure once a week. This involves taking every thing out and rinsing and scrubbing it under hot water(no soap). You may want to place the frogs in a small container at this time. The tank itself will need to be cleaned too (hot water, no soap). As for the carpeting, this you can wash with laundry detergent but it must be rinsed well with cold clean water. You may find it useful to have two pieces of carpet so when one is dirty you will always have a clean one ready to go in.

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