Acquired: Online breeder / seller
Illinois, United States
Posted Jul 26, 2012
Red Eyed Tree Frogs(RETF) are beautiful tree frogs endemic to Central America. The typical specimens with the bold coloration are from the Pacific side of Central America while the less colorful specimen is endemic to the Pacific side of Central America. RETF's are nocturnal insectivores that spend most of their day curled up on the topside of a palm frond or large leaf to avoid predation. They can be found by looking up at leaves for that distinguishing curled up frog shaped shadow. Once the sun goes down they hop from leaf to leaf in search of prey items while trying to avoid the many snakes that feed on them. Among their predators include the fer de lance, eyelash pitviper, and cat eyed snakes.
Generally during the breeding season they lay their eggs on leaves overhanging small bodies of water. Therefore, when the tadpoles are ready to morph into tadpoles they fall right into the water until they morph into their adult form. So, there are many approaches to breeding. Some people prefer building a rain chamber, others just feed more and use a misting system. Although, a great way that a friend told me about is to put them into a screen cage outside in the late spring/early summer when it's raining quite often with a water dish at the bottom and a pothos plant to lay the eggs on.
The most important considerations for keeping RETF's are humidity, cleanliness, temperature, nutrition, and food. Humidity should be kept high at around 75-100% and shouldn't drop below 40% for extended periods of time without access to a body of water. Cleanliness is paramount because amphibians absorb almost everything that comes in contact with their semi-permeable skin. Therefore, dirty tanks or dirty water mean bacteria that can easily make a healthy frog sick. Temperature should range from mid 60's to upper 80's but keeping the temps closest to the middle of that range is best. Proper nutrition is attained by using a quality vitamin/calcium supplement such as Repashy supplements or Rep-cal which comes in powder form to be dusted on the insects around 2-3 times per week. Finally, diet should consist of crickets, worms, and other insects. I don't suggest using wild caught bugs as food because you don't know if those bugs will be healthy for your animal, so be safer that sorry. Crickets are generally the main food item and the size of the cricket shouldn't be larger than the space between your frogs eyes. This rule helps avoid your frog choking on his food. Other food items can be fed in a feeding dish such as wax worms, tomato worms, meal worms, and silk worms.
Housing a RETF is generally quite simple. Some breeders use simply large storage containers, although most people, like myself, like the more natural habitat. Therefore, a large water dish is a main component of the tank. Make it easy to get to and easy to remove because you'll be changing water pretty often. Next, use lots of branches and wood for your frog to climb on. Fake plants are easiest and safest but live plants can be used. If live plants are used you must make sure they're frog safe. Pothos is a great RETF tank plant but will quickly take over the tank. Also, I like to use a substrate mix of sphagnum moss, peat moss, orchid bark, coco chunks, and leaf litter. Finally, use a fluorescent light(UVB is best) for lighting and heat. Don't use a heat lamp unless it's a large tank and it's in a cold room. Otherwise you'll either burn or dry out your frog.
Overall, the red eyed tree frog is a beautiful frog to keep for the beginner to intermediate hobbyist. Although be prepared to observe the frog only during the nighttime hours. Remember to keep him clean and humid, and feed him regularly. Obtain him from a reputable breeder and be sure to quarantine any new frogs being added to an existing colony for a few weeks before introducing them to the main tank. Finally, as much as you'll want to play with your new pet, be sure to do it very seldom, as this can lead to the demise of your new RETF. Enjoy.