A Manual for Maintaining Leopard Frogs as Pets

Two Leopard Frogs Outside in Dirt

Leopard or meadow frogs are tiny, semiaquatic frogs that have more than 20 different species. They get their names from the black markings on their backs. Although they are interesting to see, they dislike being handled. For novice frog keepers, leopard frogs make wonderful pets. Although they do need at least two hours each week of regular cage cleaning, all species of leopard frogs are rather simple to care for.

The northern leopard frog, which is brilliant green with brown patches, is the kind most frequently kept as a pet. Another frequent pet species that is olive green or light brown with black patches is the southern leopard frog. Although it is uncommon to find one as a pet, the plains leopard frog, also known as the Blair's leopard frog, is brown with black patches. North America's temperate and subtropical regions as well as northern Mexico make up their natural habitat range.

Species Overview

Common Name: Leopard frog, northern leopard frog, southern leopard frog, plains leopard frog, Blair's leopard frog, meadow frog

Scientific Name: Lithobates or Rana genus

Adult Size: 3 to 5 inches long

Life Expectancy: 2 to 5 years, depending on species

Leopard Frog Behavior and Temperament

These adorable frogs are typically nocturnal, however they occasionally emerge during the day. They may attempt to consume whatever they can, even other frogs, but their primary food source is insects. They tend to be shy and dislike being held a lot; when frightened, they may dive under the water.

They don't create poisons and are safe for people. The bacteria salmonella, which is hazardous to humans, may be found in them, just like it can in all reptiles and amphibians. When handling, use gloves, and thoroughly wash your hands. Prepare to remove them from their cage once a week at the very least to clean it.

Because of their strong hind legs, be aware that these frogs may jump up to 3 feet. Although domesticated frogs are less prone to jump, they could attempt to do so if they feel threatened.

Housing the Leopard Frog

One leopard frog may be kept in a 10- to 20-gallon tank, but if you have more than one, the tank should be bigger by 10 gallons per frog. Floor area is more significant to this type of frog than height. Semi-aquatic leopard frogs require both a land space and an amount of water deep enough to immerse their body.

For leopard frogs, a half-land, half-water tank is a great option. Plexiglas may be used to divide the tank into several areas. To create a seamless transition from the water to the land, a thick piece of wood, such as driftwood, can be positioned partially in the water and partially on land. This piece of wood also makes a good place to sunbathe. A ramp out of the water can also be created by stacking flat rocks or smooth gravel on the aquatic side. The gravel should preferably be large enough to prevent the little frogs from swallowing it, since smooth gravel is less prone to cause skin abrasions and injuries.

Use a detachable water container on the water side if at all feasible. It should be simple to insert and remove for cleaning every two to three days. Avoid using a water filter; instead, do frequent 50% water changes (at least twice weekly, perhaps more). According to some experts, frogs may experience sensory overload due to frequent water vibrations from a water pump.

You must properly wash the enclosure with hot water every other week. Useless soap residues can harm frogs, so avoid using it. Clean the tank's sides and bottom, then remove and replace the substrate.

Heat

During the day, the tank should be maintained between 70 and 75 degrees F. However, dropping the temperature to around 60 F at night is a good idea (about 16 C). These cold-blooded organisms must control the temperature of their own bodies. To cool down or warm up, they do this by moving about in their cage. Give the cage a heat gradient or temperature range. You may do this by including a basking area or warm area at one end of the cage that can reach 80 F. To offer a temperature variation, use a ceramic heat emitter, nocturnal heat lamp, or under tank heating pad.

Leopard frogs slow down during the winter and may even cease eating for three months because they hibernate. To replicate the frog's native habitat, try to keep the habitat between 37 and 39 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the winter.

Light

Since frogs spend the most of their time at night, ultraviolet or UVB light is not necessary, but it can be helpful for establishing a day/night cycle and the ethereal rays can assist your frog in metabolizing calcium. While some frog owners believe this light is unnecessary, it is really safe and probably beneficial to your frog.

Just make sure the frog can't jump onto the lamp and make sure your mesh screen lid is secure. Avoid making the enclosure too bright; it may keep your frogs continuously hiding.

Humidity

The cage should have a humidity level between 50 and 70 percent. Your frog can immerse itself in water if it requires additional humidity. Use a hygrometer or humidity gauge to monitor the moisture content. You may either automate this by using an electric mister or fogger that employs sensors or a timer, or you can use a spray bottle to spritz the cage with dechlorinated water many times every day.

Substrate

The bedding or liner for the bottom of your pet's cage is called a substrate. To enable the frogs to burrow, you can use organic potting soil or a mixture of soil and peat moss with reptile bark and sphagnum moss on the terrestrial side. For burrowing to be possible, the substrate on the earthy side has to be at least 2 to 3 inches deep.

Terrarium Plants

For climbing, hiding places, and sunbathing, provide plants and bits of wood. Get plants that flourish in an environment with temperatures in the 70s F, high humidity, and little light when choosing plants for your frog's cage. Additionally, check to see if the plants you choose are safe for amphibians. Low-lying ferns will be your best bet.

Food and Water

Feed a range of invertebrates to leopard frogs, including earthworms, wax worms, crickets, and fly larvae. For younger frogs, three to four crickets per day is a reasonable beginning point, and experts advise feeding older frogs only once every other day. Frogs seem to require a wide variety of foods.

The majority of their food might consist of crickets, with roaches, flies, moths, and worms serving as supplements. Prior to feeding the prey to the frog, the prey should be stomach-loaded (fed nutritious meals such fruits, vegetables, dog food, fish food, or cricket gut loading formula). Dust the crickets with a reptile calcium powder every other feeding.

Observe how your frog's body is shaped. Keep in mind that underfeeding is probably less of an issue than overfeeding. Frogs are flexible eaters. Verify that your frog is not becoming overly chubby, and if it is, reduce the frequency of feeding.

The chlorine or chloramine that may be added to municipal tap water is not allowed to be present in the water used in a leopard frog tank. Use a pet supply item designed to remove chlorine and chloramine if you want to be safe.

Common Health Problems

Pet leopard frogs are prone to red leg illness, a parasite condition that can make the legs red, like many captive frogs. Sluggishness and a loss of interest in food or activities are among the symptoms.

Leopard frogs are also prone to fungal infections, which appear as inflammation or a cottony-looking substance on the skin.

These conditions are treatable but require a visit to an .

Choosing Your Leopard Frog

The most reliable breeders or reptile shows that frequently include amphibians are the finest places to get your leopard frog. Pet retailers typically don't follow the best husbandry procedures and don't have a lot of information about the frog's birthday or medical background. Depending on the rarity of the species, they can cost anywhere from $10 and $25, whether you purchase them from a pet shop or a breeder.

Look for frogs with transparent skin and clear eyes. These frogs may not appear to be very active, but that is not a cause for alarm because they often remain motionless to escape predators or when they are anxious.

Similar Species to Leopard Frogs

If a leopard frog interests you, you may want to look into related species:

Otherwise, check out all of our other profiles.

CITATION

"Reptiles and Amphibians. CDC.", "Noninfectious Disorders of Amphibians. Merck Veterinary Manual", "Environment and Husbandry for Amphibians. Merck Veterinary Manual.", "Infectious Diseases of Amphibians. Merck Veterinary Manual." ;

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