These little green tree frogs are native to Australia, Indonesia, and New Guinea. Their tiny size has made them a popular pet over the years for those looking for animals suitable for small tanks. They are often described as “personality” frogs due to their unique eyes and “smiling” mouth.
They typically need less care than many other tree frogs. Their skin has a waxy coating, enabling them to tolerate more arid conditions. This means they don’t require quite as much moisture in the air as many other tree frogs, which is easier to achieve in home environments. White’s Tree Frogs are easy options for beginning frog owners, as they don’t require much work.
Quick Facts About the White’s Tree Frog
|Species Name||Litoria caerulea|
|Temperature||75–85°F during the day; drop of 10°F at night|
|Color Form||Various shades of green|
|Diet||Crickets and other small bugs|
|Minimum Tank Size||15 gallons|
|Tank Set-Up||Multiple climbing structures, gravel and dirt substrate, basking lamp|
|Compatibility||Frogs of similar sizes|
White’s Tree Frog Overview
This tree frog is native to Australia and New Guinea. However, populations have been introduced into the United States and New Zealand, where it is an invasive species. This frog has a relatively long average lifespan of 16 years, much longer than most other frogs. They are known for being extremely docile and living near people. It isn’t uncommon for these frogs to be found inside houses in Australia, utterly unfazed by the people who live there.
However, White’s Tree Frogs scream when they encounter danger in an attempt to scare off predators. They often squeak when they are touched. Some people find this endearing, while others avoid touching their frogs for this exact reason.
Due to their laidback nature, this is a common pet across much of the world. Researchers are also interested in them due to their antibacterial and antiviral skin secretions, which have been proven helpful for medical research. While many tree frogs are currently undergoing population declines, White’s Tree Frog is listed as Least Concerned.
How Much Do White’s Tree Frogs Cost?
Typically, these frogs cost about $30 each, which is relatively cheap as far as pets go. It is essential to purchase these frogs from captive breeders only, as wild-caught frogs may carry diseases such as Chytrid fungus, which can be dangerous to people. Choose a reputable breeder that uses clean tanks for all their frogs to prevent diseases and sickly animals.
Furthermore, frogs bred in captivity are often more robust animals than those caught in the wild. They’re used to captive conditions and are generally more adaptable (though they are likely unable to survive in the wild).
Avoid purchasing frogs that you have not seen in person unless a very reputable breeder is selling them. It is best to check on the condition and health of any frog before deciding to purchase them.
Typical Behavior & Temperament
These frogs are nocturnal so they will be more active at night than during the day. Your best chance of viewing them will be in the evening. If you are gone for much of the day, anyway, you likely won’t mind that the frog is only active in the evenings. However, if you are looking for an interactive pet, this probably isn’t the best option.
White’s Tree Frogs are quite docile and don’t mind being handled, but they also aren’t going to keep you entertained by hopping around endlessly. They’re tame and don’t mind people, even when they haven’t been raised in captivity.
While the frogs won’t mind you handling them, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. They have absorbent skin and will quickly absorb any chemicals on your hands. Therefore, you should be careful to ensure that your hands are clean. However, many cleaning products also contain harmful chemicals to frogs, so it is often best to avoid handling them unless necessary. Even the natural salts on human skin can be potentially harmful.
Don’t use soaps or lotions before handling your pet, as many of these are toxic.
Appearance and Varieties
The White’s Tree Frog is a large species that is typically around 3–5 inches. They can change their color slightly, but they commonly stay anywhere between a light blue-green and an emerald color. The skin is covered with a thick, waxy layer that enables them to maintain their moisture in low-moisture environments.
Their feet are large and webbed like most frogs, with their second finger being the longest. They have a distinct, fatty ridge over their eyes that contributes to their adorable facial expressions. Males are usually a bit slimmer than females but only slightly. They also have a gray, wrinkled sac underneath their throat region.
How to Take Care of a White’s Tree Frog
Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup
As a tree frog, this species needs a habitat that includes plenty of climbing room. A tall aquarium is recommended, not a long, slender one that is typically used for fish. A 15- to 20-gallon tank is recommended for one adult. The exact shape of the aquarium doesn’t matter, though many people prefer a hexagonal tank.
Since these frogs climb, a tight lid is essential. Otherwise, they’ll climb out. The suction pads on the bottom of their feet enable them to climb the sides of their tank easily.
You can keep more than one adult together, but the tank will need to be larger. The frogs will need to be a similar size, or the larger one may eat the smaller one.
Also, know that many frogs do not understand transparent boundaries. They will not understand that they can’t walk through glass, no matter how many times they try. For this reason, it is essential to add pieces of paper to the bottom few inches of the tank, and anywhere else the White’s tree frog tends to rub their nose. You may use aquarium tape and backgrounds specifically for this purpose. If the frog can rub their nose, they will injure themselves by eventually rubbing their skin off.
You should provide plenty of climbing structures. Branches, cork bark, and foliage are all necessary for these frogs to thrive. Remember that these frogs get quite large, so the branches should be able to support their weight. You can use live plants that are stocky, as long as they are free from pesticides and fertilizer. Most plant soils contain fertilizer, so you will need to use specifically made soil without it.
You should provide your frog with dark, protected spaces to sleep. This can be done by using tree bark, heavy foliage, or commercial “hiding” places. Be sure the hiding place has many exits, or the White’s tree frog may not feel safe using it.
Plan on spot-cleaning your frog’s cage daily to keep it clean from waste materials. Non-chlorinated water should be used to change the water dish every day.
Temperature & Lighting
The White’s tree frog needs a temperature of 80°F to 86°F during the day and 72°F to 76°F at night. This is best accomplished with a heater outside of the cage on one side. You should not need multiple heaters. It is okay if the tank isn’t all the same temperature, as this allows the frog to escape the warmer places if they get too hot. Use a tank-side thermometer to ensure that the temperature is being maintained.
This frog doesn’t require any specific lighting requirements. The only lights necessary are those used for viewing. If you plan on viewing at night, use a nocturnal bulb. These frogs should be kept in the dark at night, or they may believe that it is still daytime. UVB is not necessary for the White’s tree frog as it is with other tree frogs, though it also won’t harm your frog to be exposed. Twelve hours of light and 12 hours of dark typically work well.
The substrate of the tank is essential. You should use a layer of gravel followed by chemical-free soil. You can also use pieces of bark to add more structure to the substrate. Moss should be used to cover the whole bottom of the tank, as it helps retain moisture.
You should avoid bark shavings and small pieces of gravel, as these may be accidentally eaten. Without the substrate, it is difficult to maintain the correct humidity. Therefore, we do not recommend using a barer substrate like paper towels or something of that sort.
You will need a hygrometer to measure the humidity of the tank. These meters should be calibrated once a year to ensure that they are still reading correctly. The frog’s tank should be kept at around 50% to 60% humidity using dechlorinated water. Don’t use distilled water, as it doesn’t contain the necessary minerals that a White’s tree frog needs. You should also provide a dish of water. All water in the frog’s tank should be set out at room temperature for 1 to 2 days to enable it to warm up and release potentially dangerous gases.
What to Feed Your White’s Tree Frog
Your White’s tree frog will mostly need a diet of live crickets. These can be purchased at most pet stores. You can also offer moths, beetles, cockroaches, grasshoppers, and earthworms. However, crickets are often the most accessible and most widely available option. Place the crickets inside the cage, and the frog will eat them as they are discovered. You can offer them with forceps, but care should be taken to ensure that the forceps will not injure the frog on impact.
These frogs can overeat quite easily and develop obesity problems, which are more common than you’d think. This is largely because they are not very active, so it is easy to overfeed them. In general, a frog that is over 3 inches should be fed a few crickets every 2 to 3 days. You should adjust this amount based on the frog’s body condition. If they start becoming overweight, lessen the amount of food that they are receiving.
Smaller frogs should be offered small crickets every 2 to 3 days. Juveniles will need to be fed daily, as they are still growing.
You can judge a frog’s body condition based on the ridges just above the frog’s eardrum. If the ridges aren’t there, the frog is likely underweight. If the ridges start to sag and fold over, then the frog is overweight. Adjust the frog’s food accordingly and slowly. Don’t suddenly start feeding less, as this can stress the frog. Instead, reduce the number of crickets per feeding.
Keeping Your White’s Tree Frog Healthy
Generally, these frogs are pretty healthy as long as their tank is kept in the right conditions. If the tank is not humid enough or at the wrong temperature, problems can develop. They typically don’t become sick for no reason, however.
They are capable of developing chytridiomycosis, which is a fungal disease caused by chytrid fungus. This disease spreads quickly in the wild and has caused severe population loss in many species. Few treatments are available, so this disease is often deadly. Luckily, it is usually only found in wild frogs. If your frog is bred in captivity, the odds of them having it are extremely low. This is one reason that we recommend purchasing captive frogs only.
To breed the White’s tree frog, you will need at least a 30-gallon tank. Two adults will live together in this tank quite happily, as there is plenty of room for each to roam. For anything over two frogs, you should add another 10 gallons to the tank space.
Before breeding your frogs, you will need to sex them, which can’t occur until they are about a year old. Both sexes look fairly identical side by side, and both will make noises when upset. Typically, the easiest way to sex a frog is to watch their behavior. Males will call out when they hear other frogs doing the same. Females may call quietly for a second or two, but the males make a different sound. You can play the sounds of tree frogs singing at night and then pay attention to how your frog reacts.
You generally can’t breed frogs well until they are 3 years old. Before then, they may breed occasionally, but they won’t be great at it. It is usually best to wait until they are a bit older.
Next, you will need to cycle the frogs. This involves creating the same wet-dry cycle that occurs in the wild. This causes them to produce hormones and lay eggs. However, the dry hibernation time they will go through can lead to the death of some frogs. This is true in the wild and captivity. Usually, only a small number of frogs are lost, but it is possible.
Frogs should be fed an excess of food to prepare them for breeding. If they are too skinny, they will not attempt to breed. They will only breed when food is abundant. Crickets should be gut-loaded on dark green veggies to improve the health of the frogs.
Once the frogs are ready, you can put them together, and they should begin to mate. You will need to transfer the eggs and tadpoles to appropriate tanks as they age. You should only keep about 10 tadpoles per gallon. Keep the water clean and feed the tadpoles Tubifex worms. You can often find these frozen where you can purchase live fish food. Most tadpoles will need to be fed about three times a day. They can only eat a little at a time. If you add too much food at once, it will pollute the water.
Are White’s Tree Frogs Suitable for You?
If you’re looking for an easy starting frog, a White’s Tree Frog is likely a suitable option for you. They are docile and take well to humans. They don’t mind handling, though too much can make them sick due to their permeable skin. In many cases, they are easy to take care of. They are hardier than most other frogs, which makes them more suitable for beginners.
They are healthy overall, though we do recommend purchasing captive-bred frogs specifically. Wild frogs can potentially carry diseases uncommon in captivity, which can cause the frog’s death (as well as the death of any other frogs that you have).
Short, daily upkeep is all these frogs usually need. Otherwise, they’re fun pets to just hang out with.
Featured Image Credit: Frank B Yuwono, Shutterstock