American Green Tree Frog
Also known as New World Tree Frog (Hyla cinerea)
Author: John Wellington
Updated: April 10, 2018
Keeping American green tree frogs as pets is an enjoyable experience for beginners and experts alike. This species is hardier than most tree frogs which makes them easy to care for. There are some necessities and daily attention is required, but only minimal once their enclosure is set up.
This guide will show you everything you need to know to properly care for American green tree frogs. From setting up their cage, feeding, reproduction, and everything in-between.
American green tree frogs are common in the Southeastern United States and because of this, many people catch them in the wild and bring them home as pets. I personally don’t have a problem with; this species’ conservation status is “Least Concern” afterall. I do, however, suggest buying captive bred frogs instead. Frogs caught in the wild have a difficult time adapting to cages, it’s impossible to determine their age, and they often carry diseases.
In the Wild
American green tree frogs are found throughout the Southeastern United States. They have been found as far east as Delaware and New Jersey and as far west as central Texas.
This species grows up to 2.5 inches in the wild. They enjoy spending their time in bodies of water with dense vegetation. Tall grasses, cattails and even trees growing from small ponds, streams, lakes, and marshes are the ideal habitats for the American green tree frog.
American Green Tree Frog Cage Setup
When creating a captive habitat for American green tree frogs, it’s important to remember they are an arboreal species that prefer living in trees. This means vertical space is more important than the width or depth of the enclosure.
Provide plenty of climbing opportunities, places to hide, and basking area on the bottom, middle and towards the top of their tank. Frogs like to feel safe, having several nearby places to hide. This can be accomplished using leafy decorations, rocks, and branches. Because American green tree frogs are small and light-weight, most plants, real or fake, will offer hiding and climbing opportunities. Branches, when placed properly, allow for basking and climbing.
Here is a quick overview of what you need.
- Glass terrarium 18″ (width) x 18″ (depth) x 24″(height) or bigger
- A large, shallow water dish
- Branches and plant decorations for climbing
- Heat lamp for creating a nice temperature gradient
- A non-particulate substrate
- In-cage thermometer
- Spray bottle for misting
Cage decorations should be sturdy enough to support the weight of your pet(s). Ensure rocks and branches cannot be moved by your frog. You don’t want your beloved tree frog to get crushed by a poorly-placed decoration!
As for the type and dimensions of the enclosure, I suggest using an all-glass terrarium at least 18″ (width) x 18″ (depth) x 24″ (height) with a screen lid. You can get away with something a little smaller but I don’t recommend it. American green tree frogs can grow up to 2.5 inches and they need some room to jump and climb.
If you decide to house 2 or more in the same cage you might consider something 24″ (width) x 18″ (depth) x 36″ (height) or bigger. Regardless of how many you’re keeping, the bigger the cage, especially in height, the better off your frogs will be.
UVB lighting is not required but a basking light or lamp is recommended for heating. American green tree frogs do well at room temperature but giving them a nice temperature gradient within their cage is beneficial.
UVB lighting is not required for this species because they’re nocturnal. A 5.0 UVB light can be used during the day-time hours to keep live plants healthy. Just be sure to set the light on a timer to provide your pets with a day and night cycle around 12 hours each. During summertime, the day-time cycle can be increased up to 14 hours.
To be 100% clear on this; American green tree frogs do not need UVB light. A UVB light is only needed for the health of live plants within the enclosure.
Room temperature is a great starting point for American green tree frogs. That, of course, depends on what you consider “room temperature” is. The recommended temperature for this species is between 70 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. The temperature can drop slightly during the night-time hours but no lower than 65 ° F.
A nice temperature gradient is recommended for American green tree frogs. A temperature gradient is where one part of the cage is the maximum heat and the opposite side of the cage is the minimum heat.
To create the temperature gradient, place a basking lamp above the enclosure but not directly on the screen lid. Sitting the light on the lid can be hazardous for your frog if it comes into contact with the hot surface. Instead, suspend the light 1 – 2 inches above the lid. Once the lamp is installed, use a thermometer to check the temperature of the highest basking area. Adjust the light so the basking area is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. The bottom of your American green tree frog’s cage should be no lower than 70 degrees.
An under-tank heater is another option for heating your frogs enclosure. Whichever route you take, be sure to use a thermometer to ensure the temperature is correct. Here are some points to remember:
- Don’t place heating lamp directly on the screen lid.
- Under-tank heating pads are okay – just be careful, don’t place it on flammable materials.
- Use an in-tank thermometer to check the temperature.
- Creating a temperature gradient is great.
American green tree frogs are ferocious eaters and because of this, impaction is a potential problem. Impaction occurs when a substrate is accidentally consumed and cannot be digested. Tiny pebbles, for example, can be eaten by accident when your frog goes after a cricket. The cricket will be digested but the tiny pebble will not! Over time, the number of pebbles in your frog’s stomach will cause severe injury and death.
For this reason, I don’t recommend small rocks or other particulate substrates. American green tree frogs are arboreal so they will spend the majority of their time in the vertical spaces of their enclosure; so the substrate isn’t a huge concern so long as it’s not small enough to be eaten.
I recommend using coconut fiber because it’s safe for most reptiles, it’s cheap and looks good too. You can buy bricks of compressed coconut fiber online or at local pet stores for around $5. Another option is reptile carpet which is easy to clean, cheap, and looks decent.
Using toxin-free water with a neutral pH balance and natural minerals is a must for all amphibians. If you’re not familiar with this, I recommend reading the complete water guide in the guide section of this website.
With that in mind, American green tree frogs are not great swimmers so a large, shallow water dish is all that is recommended. It should hold enough water to sustain them for a few days.
The humidity level inside your frog’s terrarium should be around 50% or a little higher. Mist the cage daily. An all-glass terrarium and quality substrate will help retain humidity. Mist the cage daily and invest in a decent thermometer & humidity gauge to keep your frog comfortable!
American Green Tree Frog Diet
American green tree frogs are fun to watch eating because of their insatiable appetites and quick response time. They often respond instantly when food is introduced into their cage, making quick work of it and quickly looking for more.
You can feed them a variety of insects including crickets, worms, roaches, and even the occasional moth. A balanced diet consists of a variety of different insects but in captivity, the bulk of their food will likely come from crickets. Feed your tree frog a few gut-loaded crickets each day. In addition to gut-loading crickets, you need to dust crickets with vitamin and mineral supplements 3 – 4 times per week.
Keep a close eye on your American green tree frog so you can adjust their diet accordingly. Remove crickets left in the cage several hours after feeding. Over-eating usually isn’t a problem, it’s the nutritional quality of their diet you need to worry about. This is why they need gut-loaded crickets and supplements.
Female American green tree frogs breed one time per year. The mating season lasts from April through August and the typical clutch contains up to 400 eggs. The temperature, rainfall, and length of a day all play a role in determining the beginning of breeding season. In captivity, however, rainfall is difficult to mimic.
Males are slightly smaller and have a baggier vocal sac, yellowish in color. When you hear your frogs singing at night, find a way to watch them or flip on the lights; the male’s vocal sac may still be inflated. Look for an enlarged, for lack of better words, bubble-shaped throat.
I’ve personally never bred American green tree frogs and I cannot find a reputable source with this information. When making these guides, I search for people with first-hand experience and I’ve yet to find someone to help with this section.
What I have come across is information regarding the length of day, heat, and rainfall affecting breeding. For captive American green tree frogs, you can attempt to mimic these elements by misting more often, increasing their daytime cycle and raising the heat a few degrees.
When your frogs begin mating, they will assume the amplexus position where the male grasps the female around her body. The eggs pass through female’s cloacal openings while the male fertilizes them outside the body.
In the wild, eggs are laid among moss, logs, and sticks but in captivity, they will be attached to decorations in the water or along the walls of the container. The eggs will hatch within 7 days.
Tadpoles & Froglets
The little tadpoles can be fed the commercial aquatic frog & tadpole pellets, nutritional lettuce, and other organic leafy greens. Adding an Indian almond tree leaf is a great way to add tannins to the water as well as provide shelter for the tadpoles. The water temperature can remain between 65 – 75 degrees Fahrenheit and over the course of 60 days, your tadpoles will develop into froglets.
As their rear legs fully develop, their tail will slowly disappear and their color will transition from black to green. Your American green tree frog will fully mature within 12 months.
Handling American Green Tree Frogs
If you’re looking for a frog to carry around, an American green tree frog is not the best choice. Most frogs are kept for display and observation. Having said that, I understand you’ll need to clean their cage and transfer them from time-to-time. This is perfectly acceptable.
I have a few tips and tricks for doing this. The first is this: Before handling, wash your hand thoroughly or wear gloves. Frogs have delicate skin and chemicals and oils from your hands are harmful to them. My second tip is this: Place your frog into a small container before doing extensive cleaning. Don’t worry about this unless you need to change the substrate or clean for more than 5 minutes. For more information, check out our frog handling post in the guide section.
Infographic for American Green Tree Frogs