White's Tree Frog (Litoria caerulea)
(Photo By Joshua V. Feltham)
Introduction: White’s tree frogs are large, arboreal frogs native to Australia, New Guinea, and surrounding islands. They have also been introduced to New Zealand. Their common name is derived from the scientist that described the frog rather than the frog's color, which ranges from a dark chocolate brown to a light green. There is also a blue color form that is blue or teal instead of green. Occasional yellow or white dots are present on the dorsal side of some individuals. Their ventral side varies from cream to pinkish-white. Like many other tree frogs, White’s tree frogs have the ability to change color depending on environmental conditions. Temperature, humidity, light intensity, health, and the color of their surroundings all can affect what color a White’s tree frog is. They are a large species of tree frog and range in size as adults from 3.0 inches to 4.5 inches (7.6cm to 11.4cm).
White’s tree frogs make excellent captives because they tolerate a wide-range of conditions, have interesting behavior, and are relatively easy to care for. They are a very good choice as a first pet amphibian. Both wild-caught and captive-bred animals are available, however I strongly recommend purchasing tree frogs that were born in captivity because they are generally in better health than their wild-caught counterparts. When selecting a White’s tree frog, avoid any individual that has open wounds, unusual bumps, an irregular pattern, or is displaying abnormal behavior, such as sleeping on the floor of the cage. They are nocturnal animals that should generally remain inactive and asleep during the day unless food is around.
Cage: White’s tree frogs are large, active animals that require a spacious cage to live in. A standard 29 gallon aquarium that measures 30 inches long by 12 inches wide by 18 inches high (76 cm by 30 cm by 46 cm) is large enough for two adult tree frogs, although providing more space is recommended. Juvenile frogs can be kept in smaller enclosures. A secure screen cover is essential to prevent escapes. It may be beneficial to tape an aquarium background or black poster board to all by one side of the cage to make your frogs feel secure.
The main components of the cage setup consist of a substrate, perches, and hiding areas. There are a number of substrate options available, such as coconut husk fiber (bed-a-beast, forest bed, eco earth, etc.) or other safe soil, large river rocks, moist foam rubber, or moist paper towels. Simple substrates, like paper towels or foam rubber, will need to be replaced frequently. Gravel, sand, small pieces of bark and reptile cage carpeting should be avoided because they either have potential to be unsafe if swallowed, or can be irritating to the frog. White’s tree frogs are arboreal and should be provided with multiple perches. Driftwood, cork bark tubes, sections of PVC pipe, and bamboo poles can be positioned horizontally, vertically, and at angles in between. Perches can also serve as hiding areas, especially when live or fake plants are draped over them.
Images courtesy of talkto.thefrog.org members
Water: Provide a large bowl of clean water to the frogs. This should be changed every day or when it appears dirty. If tap water is used it should be treated with tap water conditioner to remove chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals. Bottled spring water can be used instead of conditioned tap water.
Temperature and Humidity: White’s tree frogs are tolerant of a wide range of temperatures, which is one of the reasons they make hardy captives. The ideal temperature during the day can remain between 75°F and 85°F (24°C and 29°C.) At night, the temperature can decrease. Occasional days outside of this range are tolerated well by healthy frogs. A low wattage infra-red heat lamp can be positioned above part of the cage if heating is needed. An infra-red light bulb will also allow you to observe the frog at night without disturbing it. Hot rocks and other heating devices that aren't safe for amphibians should be avoided.
Humidity levels can range from 30% to 70% in different areas of the cage. A light misting every few days can help ensure that there is always a humid area for the frog to go to. White’s tree frogs, like many other tree frogs, do not tolerate soggy, stagnant conditions well, so make certain that the cage isn’t sprayed too heavily and that adequate ventilation is provided.
Food: One of the most enjoyable qualities of White’s tree frogs is their tremendous appetite. They are rarely fussy feeders and accept the usual variety of feeder insects, including crickets, earth worms, wax worms, mealworms, silkworms, slugs, moths, and cockroaches. The majority of their diet should consist of crickets, with other food items being offered every few feedings. Feed adult frogs two to eight crickets every two days. Juvenile frogs should be fed on a daily basis, but in smaller quantities. Obesity is a common problem in captive White’s tree frogs, but can generally be avoided by not feeding too often or in large quantities. Adult frogs should have their food coated with high quality reptile vitamin and mineral supplements once every two to four feedings. Juveniles should have their food supplemented more often.
Last updated 06.24.05
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New York Herpetological Society: White's Tree Frog Care