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10 Best Amphibian Pet Species (With Pictures)

Nicole Cosgrove

There are a ton of amphibian species that make great pets, but some can be fairly complicated to keep. Even the species that are easy to look after have specific requirements, and they definitely come with a great deal of responsibility.

Most amphibians need water or at least, a moist environment to survive. Too little water or humidity can dry out their sensitive skin, and too much sun can damage their cells. They can easily absorb toxins through their skin, so their captive habitat needs specific humidity and temperature levels in order for them to stay healthy. As long as these needs are met, though, they make interesting pets that are generally healthy and an absolute joy to watch.

There are a variety of frogs, newts, and salamanders available on the market as pets, and here are 10 of our favorites!

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The 10 Best Amphibian Pet Species

1. Axolotl

axolotl in tank
Image Credit: Jeffrey Lagmay, Shutterstock
Lifespan: 10-20 years in captivity
Average size: 6-18 inches long
Care level: Easy-moderate

Axolotls are a species of salamander that come in a variety of colors, or morphs, with a truly unique appearance. They do not undergo the usual metamorphosis from larvae to adults but keep their gills and remain fully aquatic their whole life, so they are not pets that you can handle but are still incredibly fascinating animals to watch. They are generally easy pets to care for and relatively hardy. They have easy-to-provide dietary needs, making them great for beginners.


2. Dart Frog

green and black poison dart frog on a leaf
Image Credit: worldswildlifewonders, Shutterstock
Lifespan: 4-6 years in the wild, 6-12 years in captivity
Average size: 1-2.5 inches long
Care level: Easy

Dart Frogs, or Poison Dart Frogs, are interestingly, only poisonous in the wild. Captive-bred dart frogs are non-toxic, and even wild-caught dart frogs lose their potency in captivity. These frogs are some of the most beautifully colorful frogs in the world and are easy to care for. Unlike most amphibians, Dart Frogs are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day. Because they are small, they can be housed in beautiful terrariums that you can fill to your heart’s desire with plants and features.


3. Eastern Newt

eastern newt red spotted
Image Credit: Melinda Fawver, Shutterstock
Lifespan: 12-15 years
Average size: 4-5 inches long
Care level: Easy-moderate

Eastern Newts are primarily aquatic, but during the juvenile phase, they are mostly terrestrial for 2-3 years. Eastern Newts come in a variety of beautiful colors and markings, with four distinct subspecies. The Red-Spotted Newt is one of the most popular pet newts in the United States. The most important consideration with these pets is water quality, and you’ll need a filter to keep their aquarium in good shape.


4. Fire Belly Newt

fire belly newt in tank
Image Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock
Lifespan: 10-15 years
Average size: 3-6 inches long
Care level: Easy

The Fire-Belly Newt is an active, hardy, and easy-to-care-for animal and is one of the most popular pet amphibians in the United States. They are named for the vivid orange and red markings on their bellies and are beautiful animals to look at. These newts are mostly aquatic and need a large body of water to live in, but they do come out of the water to bask, so they need dry land in their tank too. They have a long average lifespan of up to 15 years, but some captive specimens have lived for up to 30 years!


5. Horned or Pacman Frog

Pacman frog sitting on leaves
Image Credit: Dirk Ercken_Shutterstock
Lifespan: 7-10 years
Average size: Up to 6 inches long
Care level: Easy

The Horned Frog, better known as the “Pacman” Frog due to its round body and large mouth, is native to South America and has become a common pet. They are strictly terrestrial animals that live on humid forest floors, and in fact, they are poor swimmers. They are easy animals to care for and make great pets for beginners, although they do not enjoy being handled. In the wild, they have been known to bite when threatened, although captive Pacmans are generally docile.


6. Oriental Fire Belly Toad

Lifespan: 10-15 years
Average size: 2-inches long
Care level: Moderate

Despite its name, the Oriental Fire-Belly Toad is actually a frog, although it has the characteristic bumpy skin of a toad. These frogs have beautiful coloring with bright green and black backs and orange and black bellies. They are generally easy to care for but take a great deal of work to maintain. They have lifespans of up to 15 years. These frogs have a toxin that they secrete from their skin, and while it will not severely harm a human, they should not be handled, as it can cause pain and sensitivity.


7. Red-Eyed Tree Frog

Red-Eyed Tree Frog
Image Credit: 12019, Pixabay
Lifespan: 4-5 years
Average size: 2-3 inches long
Care level: Moderate-difficult

The Red-Eyed Tree Frog hails from the rainforests of Mexico and central-south America and is one of the most beautiful tree frog species in the world. They can be difficult to care for, especially for beginners, but once their habitat is properly set up, they are generally not too challenging. This is because in the wild, they spend most of their time in trees, and this can be hard to replicate in a terrarium. They are also nocturnal and do not enjoy handling.


8. Spotted Salamander

Spotted Salamander
Image Credit: FredCCSTI, Pixabay
Lifespan: 15-20 years
Average size: 6-7 inches long
Care level: Easy-moderate

Spotted Salamanders have been gaining in popularity as pets due to their docile nature and ease of care. They are typically dark brown or black with distinctive yellow or orange spots, with a grey belly and smooth skin. When threatened, glands on their backs secrete a sticky toxic substance but are not dangerous to humans. They are gentle animals that rarely bite, but like most amphibians, they should be handled as little as possible to avoid damaging their sensitive skin.


9. Tiger Salamander

Lifespan: 10-15 years
Average size: 6-8 inches long
Care level: Easy

Tiger Salamanders are one of the most popular pet amphibians due to their tame, docile nature and beautiful appearance. They are native to North America, and once you have their housing set up, they are easy to care for and great for beginners. They are one of the hardiest and easily tamable pet salamanders, known to follow their keeper’s movement from inside their enclosure and even recognize their owners! They are non-aggressive and can even be housed with other salamanders of the same species, although this is not necessary.


10. White’s Tree Frog

White’s Tree Frog_Axe77, Pixabay
Image Credit: Axe77, Pixabay
Lifespan: 10-15 years on average, occasionally up to 20 in captivity
Average size: 4-5 inches long
Care Level: Easy

The White’s Tree Frog is an extremely docile frog that is generally unafraid of humans, easy to care for, and ideal for beginners. They are native to Australia, Indonesia, and New Guinea, with waxy skin that makes them more tolerant to arid conditions and great for home enthusiasts. They are nocturnal animals that are more active at night but are docile and sedentary in nature overall. They are easily tamed and often tolerant of handling, although this should still be kept to a minimum. In the wild, they spend most of their time in trees, so they’ll need a high enclosure equipped with branches and foliage.


Featured Image Credit: Kuritafshen, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.