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What Do Tree Frogs Eat in the Wild and as Pets?

Nicole Cosgrove

Tree frogs are fascinating animals, and there are dozens of species that are suitable for keeping as pets. The most commonly found species and certainly the easiest to care for is the American Green Tree Frog. These frogs are wonderful animals to observe, although they should not be handled and prefer to live alone. With proper care and diet, these little frogs can easily live for 5 years or more in captivity.

But what does proper feeding look like? What do you feed tree frogs? To provide your tree frog with the proper nutrition, it helps to know what they eat naturally in the wild, so you can try and replicate this as closely as possible in captivity. Let’s take a look at what tree frogs commonly eat in the wild and the best diet to feed them in captivity.

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Tree Frog’s Diet in the Wild

Tree frogs are nocturnal and thus eat mostly at night, but they may eat during the day if they are hungry enough. As their name suggests, they spend most of their lives in trees and tall vegetation and feed on the various insects and grubs found in their natural habitat. Their diet will vary somewhat depending on their location and species, but all tree frogs are carnivorous.

For most tree frog species, their diet in the wild consists of insects, worms, larvae, and other small invertebrates, while some larger species may feed on small animals, including spiders, lizards, snails, snakes, fish, and even other frogs. In general, tree frogs are not picky eaters and will move up and down the trees in search of any prey that they can fit into their mouths. They are passive eaters, meaning they use their long, sticky tongues to hunt and catch their prey rather than stalk and hunt, although larger species may jump toward larger, faster-moving prey like lizards. Tree frogs do have small teeth, but they typically swallow their prey whole, so this also dictates the kind of food that they can eat.

American green tree frog on green leaves
Image Credit: LorraineHudgins, Shutterstock

Feeding a Pet Tree Frog

The food that you give to a tree frog in captivity will largely depend on the species. The American Green Tree Frog, for example, is one of the most common species kept as pets and can live happily on a diet of crickets, mealworms, and flies, but larger species will need slightly different foods. The crickets should be gut-loaded, which means they are fed on a high protein and nutritious diet just before being fed to your frog. They can also be dusted with calcium and multivitamin supplements once or twice a week. You can vary a frog’s diet with flies, moths, and worms if you can find them.

Less common species of tree frogs can be more of a challenge to feed, and you’ll need to research the frog’s natural diet so you can feed them accordingly. Larger tree frog species will need more than just crickets, and you may need to add spiders, ants, beetles, and flies to their diet. In general, live gut-loaded crickets are ideal for most tree frog species.

Do Tree Frogs Need Live Food?

Yes, moving prey will stimulate your tree frog into action. They’ll quietly wait for their prey to come close and hunt them with their long, sticky tongue. Dead insects may not be seen as food by your tree frog, so live prey is essential to keeping these animals healthy. That said, babies need to be fed by hand because they typically won’t hunt yet, and dead insects may be easier.

Can I Handle My Tree Frog?

While handling tree frogs is possible, you should keep handling to a minimum and only do so when absolutely necessary. They have particularly sensitive skin that can easily be damaged by oils or chemicals on your skin, so be sure to thoroughly wash your hands before handling and keep them wet while handling. Tree frogs are not cuddly pets that enjoy being held and are for the joy of observation only.

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Final Thoughts

Tree frogs are beautiful and exceedingly interesting creatures to watch, and most species can make great pets. With the correct care and diet, they can easily live for up to 8 years and are generally easy to house and care for. Most tree frog species will be happy on a diet of insects, specifically gut-loaded crickets. That said, depending on the species that you decide to adopt, you’ll need to thoroughly research the proper diet that they need to help them thrive.


Featured Image Credit: Ken Griffiths, 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.