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Golden Tree Frog (Polypedates leucomystax)

Polypedates leucomystax

Introduction: The golden tree frog is a large, active amphibian that is regularly offered for sale. They are native to tropical Asia and have a large range that extends from India to the Philippines. In recent years, this species has been imported in large numbers and is often available from both pet stores and herp dealers. They rarely demand a high price and generally make hardy captives.

Golden tree frogs range in size from 1.5 to 3.5 inches (3.8 to 8.9 cm) as adults. Males are smaller than females and have a loud call. They have an angular head that comes to a distinct point at the end of their nose. Like most other tree frogs, they have strong legs and can jump considerable distances. Their color and pattern are variable and range from a solid orange-tan, to a lightly-striped gray with a brown stripe outlining their face, to a highly patterned tan, beige, brown and gray variation with four dark stripes descending from the head down the back. Their ventral side is solid white or cream in color. Many common names are used for Polypedates leucomystax, including golden tree frog, golden foam-nest frog, four-lined tree frog, Asian flying frog, golden flying frog, common tree frog, banana frog and Asian tree frog.

Although breeding is occasionally achieved in captivity, the majority of golden tree frogs available are wild-caught. Most are not cared for properly during their transportation from the wild to their permanent captive home, so it’s important to make sure golden tree frogs are healthy before they are purchased. Do not buy any frog with cuts or scratches, unusual bumps, dark pink or red markings, severe rostral abrasions, or that is underweight. It may be helpful to quarantine new arrivals individually and have them inspected by a trained veterinarian.

Cage: Golden tree frogs belong to a group of tree frogs that contains some species that literally glide from tree to tree in the wild. Although golden tree frogs can’t glide, they can jump long distances and need room to do so in captivity. A standard 20 gallon high aquarium that measures 24 inches long by 12 inches wide by 16 inches high (61 cm by 30 cm by 40 cm) is large enough for a trio of golden tree frogs, although more room is recommended. A tight-fitting screen cover should be provided otherwise the frogs will escape. Attaching an aquarium background or black poster board to three sides of the aquarium will help the frogs feel secure and make the cage more attractive.

The main components of their cage include a substrate, perches, and hide spots. Moist paper towels, foam rubber, coconut husk fiber (bed-a-beast, forest bed, eco earth, etc.) or other safe soils are all good substrate options. Simple substrates, such as paper towels or foam rubber, may need to be cleaned as often as once or twice a week, while more natural substrates, such as soil mixtures, generally last longer. Gravel, small bark pieces, and abrasive reptile carpeting should be avoided. Suitable perches include driftwood, cork bark tubes, PVC pipe segments, and vines. Fake plants can be wrapped around perches to provide hiding areas for the frogs, and large broad-leaved plants can be used throughout the cage to give the frogs cover.

Water: A bowl of clean water large enough for the tree frog to soak in should be available at all times. This should be changed daily 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: The temperature during the day should range from 75°F to 85°F (24°C to 29°C) and can drop to between 65°F and 75°F (18°C and 24°C) at night. It may be helpful to use a low wattage reptile heat light to achieve the proper temperatures, and an infra-red heat light may be needed to heat the cage during the night in cooler climates. Hot rocks or other potentially harmful heating devices should be avoided.

Golden tree frogs are native to humid jungles, forests, and fields in Asia, and the humidity level in their cage should reflect those that they would experience in the wild. Most of the time, the humidity level in their cage should stay above 60%. This can be accomplished in dry areas by restricting ventilation and misting the cage with water once or twice a day.

Food: Golden tree frogs are insectivores, and in captivity a good portion of their diet can consist of live crickets. Crickets should be fed two to three times a week in quantities ranging from three to six per frog depending on the size of the cricket and the size of the frog being fed. Juvenile golden tree frogs should be fed more often. Once a week or less, other food items, such as wax worms, meal worms, silk worms, moths, flies, or other insects, should be substituted for crickets. It’s important to offer no more food than the tree frog can consume in a few hours. Golden tree frogs are nocturnal and generally prefer to be fed at night, although if a feeder insect catches the attention of a tree frog during the day they won’t hesitate to wake up and catch it. Adult frogs should have their food coated with high quality reptile vitamin and mineral supplements once every two to four feedings. Juvenile's should have their food supplemented as often as every feeding.

Last updated 10.31.09

Online Resources
Asian Foam-nesting Frogs: Captive Propogation and Tadpole Husbandry
Criptic's Golden Foam-nest Frog Care Sheet
Ecology Asia - Four-lined Tree Frog
Frogs of Borneo: Polypedates leucomystax
Four-lined Tree Frog
Flying Foam Nest Frog Care