Caring for frogs

This information should be used as a guide only.

You need specific information to properly care for injured wildlife.

Read more about rescuing and releasing animals in the Northern Territory (NT).

You need a permit to care for injured or rescued wildlife.

Background

There are a large number of frogs found across the NT. 

Some are wide-ranging, such as the NT's most loved frog species, the green tree frog (Litoria caerulea).

Others, like the magnificent tree frog (Litoria splendida) or the burrowing frogs in Central Australia, are much harder to find, and will be less likely to come into care.

Frogs often need care as a result of trauma, such as domestic animal attack or chemical burns.

With the right care, injuries like fractures, wounds and burns can heal and a frog can be released.

Frogs worldwide are under serious threat of extinction. When dealing with sick and injured frogs you must follow cleaning and quarantining regimes.

Housing

Frogs should be kept in a quiet, secure spot away from family pets and noise. This includes general household noise, traffic, domestic animals and construction.

Tanks

You can keep frogs in plastic containers or glass aquariums with ventilation. Frog enclosures should be easy to clean and disinfect. 

Tanks should be at least 60 cm long but the overall size will depend on the species. Terrestrial frogs, those that live mostly on land, need more ground space, whereas tree frogs need climbing space.

Inside the enclosure

The enclosure floor should be free-draining so it’s easy to clean and disinfect. It should be non-toxic and sit securely in place.

Don’t put things in the enclosure that are small enough for the frog to swallow, such as gravel.

You can include dead branches and large, smooth rocks. These are important for frogs that live in trees. 

Soak branches and rocks in hot water, then dry them out on low heat in the oven. This will help to make sure they’re as clean and disinfected as possible.

Make sure these items do not have sharp edges that could damage the frog's skin.

Lighting and temperature

The enclosure’s temperature and humidity levels should match those of the frog’s habitat. Keep heating equipment out of the frog’s reach to prevent burns and electrocution. 

Frogs need UV lighting, both UVA and UVB. UV lighting is needed for vitamin D3, which helps with calcium absorption. Frogs that do not get enough vitamin D3 will get sick. 

You can buy UV lights in pet shops. They will increase appetite, activity levels and natural behaviours in frogs.

Food and water

Only provide food when the frogs can stay warm. They can’t fully digest food if they’re cold. 

Many captive frogs will go into a short hibernation called aestivation during the colder months. During this time they don’t need much food.

What frogs eat

In the wild, frogs feed on insects like flies, moths, slaters, beetles, cockroaches, crickets, grasshoppers, ants, caterpillars and termites. They’ll also eat spiders and centipedes.

It’s best to maintain this diet wherever possible. Try to offer a variety of food for a balanced diet.

How to feed frogs

You should feed frogs in a separate tub to keep the main enclosure clean. Put the frog in the feeding tub and add several items of food. Leave the frog alone during feeding time so it can eat undisturbed. 

Frogs will usually feed within 15 minutes, after which they should be put back in the clean main enclosure.

Food items should be roughly the distance between the frog’s eyes or smaller in size to be safe.

Frogs need their prey to be moving to know where it is. 

You should avoid using tweezers to feed frogs. Tweezers can puncture a frog's skin. 

If a frog does not feed, you can force-fed it small amounts. Only do this while an experienced carer is supervising.

Water

Frogs need fresh water daily. The water depth will depend on the frog's illness or injury. Talk to a vet or experienced carer. 

For a frog at the pre-release stage of rehabilitation, one quarter to one third of the tank may be filled with fresh, clean water.

Water needs to have a neutral pH of 7. Test kits are available from aquarium shops. 

Let water stand for a day or two before using it for frogs to let chlorine break down.

Capture and handling

Be careful handling frogs as they are delicate creatures that absorb chemicals through their skin. 

You should wear dampened, clean and unused rubber gloves. Dispose of the gloves immediately after use.

Frogs can be held by the body and should not be picked up by their head or limbs. They’re generally scared of humans and will try to hop or climb out of your grip.

Handling frogs should be kept to a minimum to avoid stress and injury.

Transport and release

During transport, frogs should be kept moist in a warm, dark, stress-free environment.

A clean and damp cloth bag or clean ventilated plastic container with a clean and damp cloth inside can be used to move frogs. 

Be mindful that frogs are excellent at escaping and can squeeze out of small gaps.

All frogs should be looked at by a vet before they’re released to stop the spreading of diseases or other health conditions to frogs in the wild.

Contact

For more information contact Wildlife Operations in your region.

Last updated: 27 June 2017