Clown Tree Frog

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Scientific name: Dendropsophus leucophyllata

The basics:
Clown Tree Frogs (previously (Hyla leucophyllata) are found throughout the Amazon Valley of South America and in the wooded areas of Guiana. They are arboreal and live up in the trees but are also found on floating vegetation during breeding season.

Appearance / health:
The body of this tree frog consists of two colors - an orange or mahogany-like color marbled with yellow or white. Clown Tree Frogs are very small, with females reaching about 1 1/2 inches and males reaching around 1 inch.

Behavior / temperament:
These are strictly display pets. They should not be handled unless completely necessary and hands must be clean before and after. Their skin is highly sensitive and will absorb nearly any chemical their skin comes in contact with. Aside from that, these make interesting tank pets that anyone can enjoy.

Large vertical tanks should be used. A 20 gallon “tall” tank can safely house up to 4 frogs. The more frogs being housed, the higher the tank must be to allow ample jumping and climbing space. The Exo-Terra brand of tall glass tanks are a great choice.

The care of Clown Tree Frogs is very similar to the care of Red Eyed Tree Frogs. They do best with temperatures around 70-80F and humidity levels around 60-70%. If normal household temperatures do not bring the ambient air temperature of the tank to the recommended 70-75F, a low wattage (20-40watt) bulb may be used. If using a heat source, an accurate thermometer must be used also. Substrate is best as top soil, coco fiber, and/or peat moss.

Substrate should be kept moist by daily mistings. If using a source of heat, the tank will dry out quicker so more frequent mistings will be needed. Plants are needed but can be your choice of live or fake. Covering a portion of the screen top with glass will help keep humidity in, just make sure there is still ample ventilation. Other tank décor, besides plants, should be vines, branches, bark, and other various items that will give these frogs climbing and hiding areas. A very shallow water dish may be used and cleaned frequently.

Offer a variety of soft bodied invertebrates such as crickets, cockroaches, wax worms, flies, and others. Juvenile and froglets should be offered similar food, just smaller in size to fit in their mouths. Tadpoles need flake fish food, plant matter, live algae, etc.

Breeding season is usually brought on by a dry season and cooler temperatures followed by a rainy season and higher temperatures. To simulate the dry season, temperatures must be cooled by 10F in both day and nighttime temps. During this time, the tank must be misted a lot less, just enough so there is a little moisture in the tank.

A waterfall is great to add instead of mistings for this period. If done properly the frogs metabolic rate should slow down and they will go into a state of aestivation. Photoperiod should be shorter during this time to 10hrs light and 14hr darkness. Do this for 6-8 weeks then slowly, over the period of a week, increase the photoperiod by 20-30 minutes everyday until reaching the normal 12/12 cycle. Along with more light, the temperatures should also increase back to the normal around 75-80F.

Once out of aestivation, the frogs should then be placed in the rain chamber. If you don’t already have a misting system set up, you will need to create a rain chamber from scratch. Build a rain chamber by buying a larger vertical oriented tank, a water pump, some hose, and create a bottom that is half land half water. The water half of the tank should be completely sealed so no water will leak into the land side and should consist of some large leaf plants above the water.

The land side will need a false bottom and a hole drilled into the bottom so that water can escape into a large bucket underneath without washing away the substrate. The water pump should be placed in the water side and the hose should go all the way to the top of the tank. Attach a pipe with some holes punched in it, or attach mister heads. The water pump will pump water up the hose and into the pipe with holes or the mister head, which will create rain down on the rest of the tank. If done properly, it will stimulate the frogs to breed and male frogs will begin calling the females. If the females are receptive, they will allow the males to cling to their backs in amplexus. This stage can take days or less. When ready to lay her eggs, the female will attach her eggs to the underside of the leaves that are 3-4 inches above the water. When the eggs hatch, the tiny tadpoles will wriggle out and fall directly into the water. The tadpole stage is usually between 40-60 days before metamorphosing.

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