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Japanese Tree Frog

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Other common names: Japanese Treefrog

Scientific name: Hyla japonica

The basics:
The Japanese Tree Frog is one of East Asia’s most abundant amphibians. It inhabits brushy meadows and wooded steppes, forests, swamps, farms, and parks within towns and even large cities. Assisted by large toe pads, the Japanese treefrog forages on bushes, trees, fences, building walls and other elevated sites.

Appearance / health:
The Japanese treefrog is stout in build, with an average length of 1.2 – 1.8 inches.  The body color ranges from light to brilliant green, brown or near-black, depending upon temperature and substrate. The granular skin on the back is separated from the smooth ventral skin by a white-bordered dark line, which also runs along the side of the head.

Behavior / temperament:
Japanese treefrogs become quite bold, often jumping onto one’s hand for food. However, all amphibians are best thought of as pets to observe rather than handle.  The skin glands of most produce toxins that can be fatal if ingested (so don’t eat your pet!).  Do not handle amphibians when you have an open cut, and always wash well afterwards.  Toxins transferred to the eyes via fingers may cause severe irritations. 

If handling is necessary, hands should be free of soap, perfume and tobacco residue, and the animal should not be rubbed or “petted”. The skin mucus is easily removed, leaving the animal open to fugal and bacterial attack.

Housing:
Japanese treefrogs do well in groups if provided enough space and cover.  High-style aquariums that allow climbing space make the best homes for these arboreal frogs.

A sphagnum/peat moss mix may be used as the substrate.  Shy at first, they are best provided with numerous cork bark rolls, branches, plants and vines.  Live plants are best…Snake Plants, Pothos, Philodendron and Peace Lilies will be appreciated by these little gymnasts, and leaf clusters make cozy retreats. 

Japanese treefrogs fare best when kept relatively-cool. Average room temperatures (65-72F) are fine, but they will remain active at 55-60 F as well.

Treefrogs do not require Ultra-Violet B light, but anecdotal evidence indicates that low levels may be of some benefit. 

Japanese treefrogs prefer moderately high humidity levels and need ample air circulation.  The terrarium should be misted at least twice daily.  They need only a simple water bowl, which should be changed daily. Chlorine and chloramine must be removed from water via liquid preparations available at pet stores. 

Alternatively, they can be housed in terrariums decorated with live plants and branches overhanging several inches of water.  Undergravel, or submersible turtle filters may be used in the water sections of treefrog terrariums. 

Diet:
A highly-varied diet is essentialCrickets alone, even if powdered with supplements, are not an adequate diet. 

The diet should consist of small roaches, sow bugs, earthworms, crickets, butterworms, calciworms, cultured houseflies, silkworms and other commercially insects.  Insects should be provided a healthful diet for several days before use.  Except for newly-molted grubs, mealworms should be avoided. 

Breeding:
Breeding may be expected in the spring, especially if a dip in temperature has occurred over the winter. A commercial rain-system, or increased misting, is useful in stimulating breeding behavior.

Clutches may contain 150-1,500 eggs, which are deposited at and below the water’s surface, singly and in clumps. The tadpoles may be reared on a diet of fish food flakes, commercial tadpole pellets and par-boiled kale and other greens. They transform by autumn (in the northern part of the range, tadpoles may over-winter) and achieve sexual maturity in 3-4 years (in the wild, likely sooner in captivity).

Written by Frank Indiviglio

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