Red Eyed Tree Frogs are one of the most striking looking amphibians in captivity. They are immensely attractive and popular because of it, but can be a little sensitive and require you to have put proper thought into their setup. In this Red Eyed Tree Frog caresheet I’ll be going over some of the very best options in todays husbandry, including enclosure size and housing options, heating, lighting, temperature and humidity, decor, the potential for bioactive enclosures and more. Everything you need to know to keep the Red Eyed Tree Frog as a pet.
An Introduction to the Red Eyed Tree Frog
The Red Eyed Tree Frog (Agalychnis callidryas) is also often just referred to as a Red Eye and originates in Mexico and Central America. They are coloured a bright green to blend in with the rainforest that they live in and are completely nocturnal, which means their red eyes only open at night – so don’t break their camoflauge! You might notice their striking blue sides and legs and orange feet, these too only come out at night, as in the day they sleep with their legs pushed tightly against their body, mimicking a part of the leaf. If they are startled by a predator, their bright colours can be used to warn of them being poisonous, encouraging birds and other animals to leave them alone. They are completely harmless though!
It takes about 10-12 months for a Red Eyed Tree Frog to reach adult size, which is around 2.5 inches for males and 3.5 inches for females.
Red Eyed Tree frogs can live for around 8 to 12 years in captivity, with the average being around ten. This is a lot longer than they would live in the wild where reported lifespans rarely exceed five years due to predation or habitat loss.
Read on to find out how to house this fantastic species.
Housing Red Eyed Tree Frogs
We recommend using glass tanks to house tree frogs of all species, including Red Eyed Tree Frogs. Both Exo Terra and Habistat Glass Tanks are available in good sizes, with excellent height. They have mesh on the top to allow for ventilation, and a deep base to allow for a bioactive or non bioactive substrate. As glass is not damaged by water, glass tanks are ideal for higher humidity species. Whilst you can use a wooden vivarium, you should be aware that wood will warp under constant humidity so the lifespan of the vivarium will likely only be a few years.
A 45 x 45 x 60cm Exo Terra or a 45 x 45 x 60cm Habistat Terrarium is ideal for two to three adult Red Eyed Tree Frogs. We’d recommend going larger to keep a group of four or more – consider a 60 x 45 x 60cm to give them a bit more space to spread out. As with all tree frogs, the more space you give them, the more natural and healthy behaviour you’re going to see so the bigger the better! As long as you can maintain temperatures, there’s really no such thing as too big an enclosure for a Red Eyed Tree Frog. These keen feeders will hunt food easily in any size.
We have put together a few packages for you in terms of Tree Frog Setups, I highly recommend you check out the bioactive ones if you want to consider a fantastic rainforest for your frogs!
These tropical frogs need an ambient temperature of around 75F (24C), rising to 85F (29C) towards the top of the tank, allowing your frog to move up or down as they prefer. At night time, temperatures can drop as low as 65F (18C), but keeping your thermostat set to the low 70s is fine.
We recommend heating your Red Eyed Tree Frog tank with a heat mat. All heating elements must be controlled by a thermostat to keep the temperature correct and avoid overheating. We usually don’t recommend a ceramic heater bulb with amphibians as it dries out the air, but you can use a low wattage bulb outside the top of the tank in a canopy or with a clamp lamp if you need to raise your temperatures further in the daytime. If you do use a light emitting bulb, make sure you offer dense canopy cover (see lighting section below).
Lighting and UVB
Red Eyed Tree Frogs are nocturnal and can be sensitive to bright light, but still enjoy a natural photoperiod and some light in the tank. Despite the fact they are nocturnal, we recommend a low wattage UVB for best health. This will then also provide a very small amount of heat at the top of the tank, as well as providing a natural day and night photoperiod. Whilst Red Eyed Tree Frogs won’t develop Metabolic Bone Disease (if correctly supplemented) without UVB, UVB nonetheless offers a lot benefits in activity levels, appetite and colouration. It would be a shame to spend a lot of money on a tank and animals and then not see them at their best!
We recommend a minimal amount of UVB – just a UV Index of 1-2. You can obtain this with a T8 6% Tube, or a T5 7% Shadedweller kit, with plenty of foliage at the top of the tank to mimic a forest canopy and filter some of the UV rays. As you can see the all in one Shadedweller is an inexpensive piece of kit as this comes ready to plug in and can sit comfortably on top of the mesh of your tank. The Shadedweller is only 8w and a very gentle light, so don’t confuse it with the other Arcadia Pro T5 kits which are much higher wattage, even at a lower percentage.
Water and Humidity
Red Eyed Tree Frogs like it a bit more humid than many other species of tree frogs. For some this is why they’re more of an intermediate than beginner species, as you do need to be aware and keep the humidity up. You want a base humidity of 60 – 75%, although they can tolerate as low as 50% in the winter. You’ll need a large, clean water bowl that is changed regularly as well as misting the enclosure. Having running water such as a waterfall or pump can help keep the humidity up throughout the day.
Red Eyed Tree Frogs generally won’t spend time much time in water, but need a large enough bowl in to soak in if they feel the need, and may go to the toilet regularly in the water bowl so you’ll need to clean it daily.
Decor & Substrate
You will need a substrate that holds humidity without attracting bacteria or mold. If you’re using a glass tank, we recommend Arcadia EarthMix as an excellent natural substrate. Other options include Coir Fibre Husk or Orchid Bark. If you’re going for a bioactive setup, you’ll definitely want EarthMix as it contains vital minerals for your plants and cleanup crew. One Bioactive Starter Kit would cover a 45cm enclosure and this contains a great mix of items that will get you started with bioactive. Even if you don’t intend to add a full array of live plants, using a bioactive substrate with cleanup crew means you don’t need to clean the tank out as often and promotes healthy bacteria and air quality.
You should provide sturdy branches and plenty of cover at all levels of the tank, providing a rainforest like canopy, either with real or plastic plants, so the frogs can feel secure and choose when to bask.
Red Eyed Tree Frogs will enjoy a varied diet of insects, including hoppers, crickets, mealworms, lob worms, earthworms and wax worms as an occasional treat. They will also catch flying insects such as house flies or waxworm moths.
If your enclosure has UVB then we recommend a straight calcium twice a week, and a high quality multivitamin with D3 once a week. If your enclosure does not have UVB then we recommend a straight calcium once a week and a multivitamin with D3 twice a week.
Our livefood is delivered gutloaded, but this should be continued at home to make them as nutritional as possible.
Red Eyed Tree Frogs can be very prone to stress and have delicate skin. We would consider this a display only species, although it’s worth noting that they do tame down and get used to people, and some may even be happy to hand feed or feed from tongs, allowing you to interact with them without needing to pick them up and stress them out. If you do need to pick up the frog, for example to clean out the tank, move it or give it a health check, make sure you’ve washed your hands first or wear disposable gloves for hygiene.
Sexing baby and juvenile red eyed tree frogs is not possible, but once they hit around 9-12 months old you shouldn’t have an issue distinguishing males from females. In the above picture the male is clinging to the females back and you can clearly see the size difference. This is a behaviour they can exhibit for days at a time.
- Will call
- Have a dark nuptial pad at the base of their thumb once sexually mature
- Much smaller than females
- Are much quieter, may occasionally answer a male
- Can be double the size of males, certainly significantly larger
How Noisy are Red Eyed Tree Frogs
Red Eyed Tree Frogs have a few different calls that you’ll hear at night. Tree Frogs have calls designed to cross the rainforest, so can be quite loud. We don’t recommend keeping tree frogs in the bedroom if this will disturb your sleep although I personally kept a large group of Red Eyed Tree Frogs in my bedroom and found the rainforest sounds soothing! The male has a mating call made to a female, and the female may quietly reply. Males also have a territorial call that they make to each other to chase each other away. Multiple males together will compete in song to create a chorus of calls. A female may also call quietly if her eggs are ready. They even have a call for when humidity increases and barometric pressure drops, indicating rainstorms. Finally, they have a distress call that you’re unlikely to hear in captivity, but they emit in the wild to try to escape a predator. In short, they’re a chatty species, but it’s not an unpleasant sound.
Red Eyed Tree Frogs are a very communicative species, so expect quite a bit of noise at night, but they’re not as loud as other species of Tree Frog such as White’s Tree Frog.
Housing Red Eyed Tree Frogs Together
Red Eyed Tree Frogs are generally social and communicative and can be kept in mixed sex groups, although they do become noiser the more you have! You should make sure that you don’t keep babies or juveniles in with significantly larger adults.
Hopefully this caresheet has provided you with all the information you need to care for a Red Eyed Tree Frog. If you have any questions at all about keeping Red Eyed Tree Frogs, please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!