White’s Tree Frogs are one of the most popular Tree Frogs, known for their chunky size, cheeky smile and hardy nature that allows them to be easily kept in captivity. We’ll cover everything you need to know about the White’s Tree Frog in this caresheet, from housing, heating, lighting, feeding, handling, keeping groups together and even how to breed them if you fancy a challenge!
An Introduction to the White’s Tree Frog
White’s Tree Frogs (Ranoidea caerulea, also known as Litoria caerulea) are native to northern and eastern Australia, as well as New Guinea. In Australia you may see these referred to as the Australian Green Tree Frog, definitely not to be confused with the European or American Green Tree Frog or the Dumpy frog, due to their appearance. In the UK, the common name White’s Tree Frog is what you’ll usually see and it’s not because they’re white at all, but because the original naturalist who described the species was named John White. They’re a large frog, with adults getting three to five inches, males being slightly smaller on average. The standard wild colouration is a pleasant green, although they may also be brown if they are stressed or their environment isn’t correct. There are some morphs of White’s Tree Frog now as well, which I’ll cover later in the White’s Tree Frog Morphs section.
White’s Tree Frogs have a croaky call. It’s not incredibly loud like some frogs, but can be persistent and would most likely disrupt sleep if kept in a bedroom. If you end up with multiple males, they can be quite noisy competing with each other at night!
Here in the UK you’ll find White’s Tree Frogs readily available as captive bred babies, which is always preferable to taking animals from the wild and subjecting them to stressful importation procedures. Captive bred animals can potentially live up to 20 years in the best conditions, although the average is usually described as around 10-15 years. With husbandry conditions having improved in leaps and bounds in the last decade, if you provide the best conditions described in this White’s Tree Frog Careguide, you should be able to exceed the average lifespan.
Housing your White’s Tree Frogs
We recommend using glass tanks to house White’s Tree Frog. Glass tanks will allow you to provide adequate humidity and ventilation. Whilst a tall wooden tank may be appropriate in size, keeping frogs in wooden tanks tends to require them to be replaced within a few years and you’ll need to add extra ventilation panels. White’s Tree Frogs can be susceptible to skin complaints and bacterial infections in a dirty or poorly ventilated enclosure. Glass is easy to clean and commercial glass tanks come with mesh tops which are ideal for ventilation.
A 45 x 45 x 60cm Exo Terra or a 45 x 45 x 60cm Habistat Terrarium is ideal for two to three adult White’s Tree Frogs. We’d recommend going larger to keep a group of four or more. The more space you give them, the more natural and healthy behaviour you’re going to see so the bigger the better!
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!
White’s Tree Frogs need a gentle ambient of 75F / 24C, and a hot spot at the top of the tank can be closer to 85F / 29C. At night, the temperature can drop down as low as 60F / 15C. This is quite important if trying to breed them, but if not breeding, you can keep your temperatures fairly steady day and night around the 75F mark.
You can provide this ambient through a heatmat and thermostat behind the tank. We don’t recommend the use of ceramic bulbs usually with frogs, as they tend to dry out the air far more than a heat mat. Gentle lighting can then be placed on top of the tank and we recommend UVB lighting.
Lighting and UVB
Depending on which care guide you read, you’ll see some say UVB isn’t required, and others say it is. We consider UVB to be very important for Whites Tree Frogs. Much of the UVB is filtered by the forest canopy, but they still receive a moderate amount of UVB. The correct amount of UVB is essential for health and we’ve noticed that those who keep White’s Tree Frogs without UVB more often have a dull brown frog. Lighting can be placed on top of the tank. A basking spot isn’t essential, and there’s no real need to add an additional bulb to your UVB.
We follow the Arcadia Lighting Guide as Arcadia have done extensive research into the UV Index that animals receive in the wild. They recommend that White’s Tree Frogs need a UV Index of 2-3. This can be obtained with a Arcadia Pro T5 7% Shadedweller Kit, or you can use a T8 6% Forest Bulb. As the frogs will often be basking near the top of the tank, we don’t recommend using stronger UVB than this even if your enclosure is very tall. Please note that we do not recommend you use the Arcadia Pro T5 6% Kit. You might be thinking, but 7% sounds higher than 6% – but the Shadedweller is a much lower wattage and has a much lower overall UV output even though the strength is higher. It can be confusing, but wattage is also important when considering your UV output. We find that people sometimes purchase the T5 6% Kit by mistake, but you specifically want the 7% Shadedweller which is a separate item.
Your UVB should be on during the day and turned off at night.
Water and Humidity
A base humidity of 50-60% is fine, but you should spike this up to 70-80% twice a day with misting.
A large, fresh, clean water bowl must be available at all times. It will need to be cleaned daily, as they’ll often use it as a toilet, and this is a frog that is prone to bacterial infection and skin problems in a dirty environment.
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.
White’s Tree Frogs should readily eat a wide range of appropriately sized livefood, including crickets, locusts, mealworms, dubia roaches, earthworms, lob worms and as a treat, the occasional waxworm. Adult White’s Tree Frogs may be big enough to take pinky mice, but we personally don’t recommend feeding them mice as this species is prone to obesity and mice are very high in calorific content.
If your enclosure has UVB then we recommend a straight calcium twice a week, and a 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.
We don’t recommend handling amphibians as a rule, however out of all the amphibians out there, the White’s Tree Frog is one of the largest and hardiest. Generally we would say that you should keep frogs as display animals, but it is possible to allow a White’s Tree Frog to sit on you comfortably. You shouldn’t be touching the skin on their back and should always wash your hands first. Bear in mind that frogs have skin with a delicate balance, and White’s Tree Frogs are particularly prone to bacterial infection and skin problems if your hands transmit anything to them.
Sexing juvenile White’s Tree frogs is almost impossible, so you’ll need to wait until your frogs are at least a year old to tell whether you have a male or female. If they’re adults, sexing should be relatively simple.
- Have a vocal sac and will call
- Have a dark nuptial pad at the base of their thumb
- May be smaller than females, but not always
- Have a larger throat area from calling
- Are usually larger than males, but not always
- Have a wider head
- Don’t call
Housing White’s Tree Frogs Together
You can house as many White’s Tree Frogs together as you want, given that you have adequate space in the enclosure, adequate food, and they’re all approximately a similar size so no one accidentally ends up in someone elses mouth.
You can keep groups of any sexes together, but bear in mind the more males you have, the more calling you’ll hear! But the fact you can keep groups of any sex together means buying younger unsexed babies is risk-free – it doesn’t really matter what sexes you end up with (unless you’re intending to breed, and then you need at least one male and female!)
However, if you decide to only keep one White’s Tree Frog, this is fine. They do not have to live in groups.
Breeding White’s Tree Frogs
If you already have an established group of adult White’s Tree Frogs and know they’re in good health, you might want to consider breeding. Breeding can be a very rewarding experience, getting to watch them go from eggs, to tadpoles and morphing into frogs. Breeding also increases the captive bred availability in the UK, but do be sure that you can house all of the babies safely and securely, can afford the food bills, and ideally already have a good idea of someone who will buy the babies from you, such as a reptile shop or wholesaler. Read this carefully and do plenty of research, as breeding frogs is a lot more involved than breeding other reptiles.
In the wild White’s Tree Frogs will compete for breeding in groups, so keeping multiple males and females together will make everyone a bit more competitive and inclined to breed.
In the rainy season they will travel to the bottom of the rainforest floor to breed in or near pools of water, so you’ll want to make sure you have a water bowl big enough to house all the frogs in your enclosure comfortably. Creating a rainy season can be the most difficult part of breeding frogs in captivity. Most tree frog breeders will create a rain chamber specifically for the purpose of breeding, although you can also set up an automatic misting system. The problem with using your normal enclosure as a rain chamber is that the substrate can easily become waterlogged as you want to be raining for approximately 15 minutes every 4 hours – this is a much longer duration than people usually spray for. In a separate rain chamber, no substrate is used. A drop in barometric air pressure also tends to encourage frogs to breed. If you know there’s a thunderstorm on the horizon, this could be an ideal time to start increasing your humidity and creating the impression of an artificial storm season.
Eggs are laid on vegetation in the water just a few days after successful breeding, so putting some plants (plastic are fine) in the water can encourage them to lay their eggs. I would recommend either removing the frogs from the rain chamber if you’ve had eggs in there, or removing the eggs from the tank if you’re using a water bowl in your regular tank. White’s Tree Frogs will disrupt their own eggs accidentally. A single female can lay between 800 and 2000 eggs. Let that sink in for a moment. Each of these eggs will turn into a tadpole.
Within a few days of hatching you’ll need to move your tadpoles out into your aquatic enclosure you have prepared for them. The water in your tadpole tank will need to be 28C, and you’ll also want a water filter in there, but make sure it’s not too strong, so it doesn’t suck the tadpoles in! An under gravel filter is ideal because of this. The more you can split your tadpoles up, the more success you will have. This is because they will eat each other, as well as the stronger ones getting all the food. Some breeders will cull the tadpoles based on the strongest and weakest, and also because maintaining potentially over a thousand frogs is incredibly difficult. In the wild, a very high percentage of tadpoles never make it to adulthood – they are bred in quantities to give them a sheer chance of survival by numbers.
Tadpoles will need to be fed daily, either a tadpole diet, tubifex worms, daphnia, bloodworm or similar.
After two weeks, back legs will grow and after another week, front legs will develop too. You will need another enclosure that has a half water half land area, so they can begin to climb out. You still need your water temperature to be 28C so will need a water heater. At this stage, you should make sure you have UVB in the tank too. Once they have all four limbs, even though they still have a tail, you can move them into this froglet tank, and they will begin to climb out of the water and the tail will disappear. At this point you can start to feed very small crickets and fruit fly. Each froglet will need up to 10 of these a day. If you end up with a thousand froglets, you can imagine that this will be a lot of maintenance. This is why breeders will cull at the tadpole stage as you should never try to raise more frogs than you can adequately care for.
Finally, once your tadpoles are full frogs you can transfer them to a small version of the adult tank, in small groups of up to 10 or so. Any more and feeding will become a struggle for them and the tank will need more cleaning than you can manage. Bear in mind that White’s Tree Frogs are prone to bacterial infections in dirty environments, and all these frogs have to poop. Overcrowding and dirty conditions are a big cause of weak and dying frogs.
As you can see, breeding White’s Tree Frogs – or any tree frog – is not something you undertake without a serious commitment. You will need quite a few enclosures, and need to make some careful decisions about managing the tadpoles and young simply because of how many there are. However, if you are successful, you could have many hundreds, or even thousands, of young frogs to sell. You are very unlikely to sell all of them individually, so do make sure you’ve talked to local reptile shops or local wholesalers in advance.
A bit of a mammoth task, but could be very rewarding!