How to Set up a Red Eyed Tree Frog Enclosure

Setting up a frog enclosure takes a little time to do correctly, but is more than worth the time when you consider the fact that if it's done correctly the first time, all future enclosure-related issues will be much easier to deal with. Not to mention the fact that the more appropriate the enclosure is to the frog's needs, the happier and healthier the animal(s) will be.


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    Enclosure: Red eyed tree frogs are arboreal animals. This means that they spend most of their time in trees and tall shrubs/plants. Keeping this fact in mind, you should always try to get as tall an aquarium as is reasonably possible. This leaves much to speculation, but keep this rule of thumb at your fingertips (pun intended): You should have 15 gallons (56.8 L) or 20" x 10" x 17" worth of enclosure per adult red eyed tree frog. The enclosure should have limited screen openings as this will make it very challenging to keep up the 80-90% humidity level. Either a removable or liftable screen/mesh top will work fine. That is based upon your preference. You can have both. Glass sides, as opposed to screen and/or mesh make it easier not only for the frogs to climb on but also to keep the humidity up.
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    Substrate: Substrate, or ground covering is important, as it helps to make not only the cleaning process easier, but it helps with the aesthetics, humidity control and excrement (poop) collection. It can, depending upon the type used, also be used to plant live flora (plants). There are many different ways to cover the floor of the enclosure:
    • Paper towel: PROS: Great for easy clean up during enclosure maintenance, cheap, easy to replace. CONS: Doesn't hold moisture for long, tends to build bacteria and smell quicker, looks very clinical and sterile (frogs don't mind it so much, but it doesn't look nice to the frog owner).
    • Moss: PROS: Holds moister pretty well, easy to distribute along the floor, consumes excrement and grows (if live moss). CONS: Messy, sticks to frogs (not in a bad way, just tends to get cluttered on their skin), can have a pungent odor, dirties the water, and good luck finding any roaches or crickets that escape the feeding bowl.
    • Soil: PROS: Holds moisture for extended periods of time, looks natural, works well with or without live or dried moss, has a nice earthy aroma. CONS: Not cheap, if you get coconut husk or tropical soil bricks; messy; dirties the frogs and water; can house fungus and mold, if not controlled.
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    Branches and climbing surfaces:
    • Bendable branches are great for altering the look and feel of the environment to your liking each time you clean. They are not too inexpensive, but you can usually find them on Craigslist for cheap. They are also softer and don't come with the risk of scratching, scarring or tearing the frog's delicate skin.
    • Driftwood is also a nice touch, but tends to gather mold quickly and rots easily in the high humidity environment as is the tree frog enclosure.
    • African Driftwood is great as it is nice and dark; heavy, so it won't tip or fall once properly secured; hinders mold and mildew; but is expensive. and be sure to check for sharp edges & sand them down.
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    Water Features: Obviously, frogs need water to survive, just like everything else. How you go about it is entirely an aesthetic approach. There are bowls, running waterfalls, streams, pools...A simple medium sized bowl with smooth stones for ease in exiting from said water feature works best. However, a nice waterfall is great for upping the humidity. Just be sure to keep the filter clean or it clogs up.
    • Streams and pools typically accompany the waterfall or moving water feature. these are also harder to maintain and clean; not to mention they are typically costly additions.
    • Always use filtered or RO water. You can buy the water for cheap at any water store or buy it in the gallons at your local grocery store. Clean the water dish out every couple days. They muck the water up quickly as frogs find it easier to eliminate their bowels (poop) in water.
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    Lighting/heating: Red eyed tree frogs aren't particular as to which type of lighting is used. As long as they can get the 12 hour photo period needed for normal day/night existence. If you have live plants in your enclosure (great idea) then you'll need a UV grow light set at a 12 hour time limit or the plants will decay. Using a timer for the lights is recommended, as this way you won't dash off to work and halfway into your day realize "D'oh! I forgot to turn on the light!"
    • Steer clear of incandescent lighting as it is too hot, too wasteful on the environment and doesn't last nearly as long as UV.
    • The median temperature should be 78ºf – 85ºf (26ºc - 29ºc) with an 80% - 90% humidity.
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    Feeding: Red eyed tree frogs love to eat. Like most all frogs, they are gluttons. Meaning they will eat till they develop a weight problem. Ever see a fat tree frog? It's not pretty. Nothing is sadder than to watch an obese frog try to nimbly climb or jump. The food of choice is of course crickets. The size of all their live food should be no longer that the width of the frog's head from eye to eye. This measurement is cast aside if feeding a red wiggler worm or wax worms. The frog fodder list goes as follows – but is in no particular order:
    • Crickets
    • Dubia cockroaches
    • Wax worms
    • Red wiggler earth worms
    • Flies
    • Moths
    • Spiders (not recommended as the wrong kind and a spider bite can kill your frog)
    • Other soft bodied insects.
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    Cleaning: Inspect your frog's enclosure daily and remove dead leaves from plants; excrement; dead, uneaten bugs. Also inspect that nothing has been knocked over. This is a good time to inspect the frogs for injuries and general health conditions.
    • Fully clean your enclosure every two weeks. Do not use household cleaners. These will leave a poisonous residue and will kill your frogs. All pet stores sell reptile cleaning sprays designed to be used safely on all reptile and amphibian enclosures. After spraying down and wiping off all the walls be sure to go over the walls again with a clean damp towel or cloth, just to make sure. You should smell only humidity and/or soil/moss. Any hint of a chemical spray is too much residue and should be removed. Amphibians absorb chemicals through their skin. So think of any chemicals left behind as being injected directly into your veins. This would be bad.
    • Remove old substrate or shave off the top layers, if a planted soil-based flooring. Replace with new soil as needed.


  • Do not feed from your garden or around your house. These insects are not clean and may be subjected to poisons and herbicides. The typical insect poison is designed to kill all ectotherms (animals who cannot control their own temperature). Frogs, all amphibians for that matter, are ectotherms. If it will kill an insect, it will kill a frog.
  • Always wash your hands before and after touching the frog. If you don't it could kill the frog.

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Categories: Frogs