The Best & Worst Frogs for Beginners
Author: John Wellington
Updated: June 15, 2018
Keeping frogs as pets is a rewarding experience, for both young and old. It’s not incredibly difficult either. In fact, caring for most frogs is as simple as maintaining the correct temperature and humidity, feeding them daily, and occasionally cleaning their cage.
Where people mess up, unfortunately, is when they fail to properly research the species of frog they’re keeping. Some frogs are hardy, don’t require much attention, and can withstand the occasional mistakes from their keeper. Others, however, are fragile; even the smallest mistake can prove fatal. That is exactly what this post aims to cover; the best and worst frogs for beginners.
By the way, I won’t go into great detail on how to care for the Anura (frogs and toads) on this page. The reason is simple, I’ve already created in-depth care sheets for most of them! Simply click the linked heading for the corresponding frog or navigate to the care sheets section to find out more information about the species mentioned below.
The 5 Best Frogs & Toads for Beginners
When determining the best frogs for beginners, I had to first establish some criteria. I decided the upkeep should be minimum, the cost low, and most importantly, the frog should be hardy. That is, a frog for beginners should be able to withstand a little neglect. They should be durable enough to withstand the typical mistakes beginners are bound to make sooner or later. With that in mind, I think I’ve come up with a great list of frogs that meet these criteria.
I did my best to include each type of frog; a terrestrial type, aquatic, and arboreal. Terrestrial frogs are notoriously easy to care for, they include species like toads and other mostly land dwelling frogs.
Aquatic frogs aren’t quite as well-known but they’re available and the one I selected is very easy to care for.
Then there are the arboreal frogs, the treefrogs. This one was difficult. Tree frogs are usually a bit more difficult to care for. They require a vertical terrarium and most of them are kind of fragile. But fear not, I’ve got the perfect tree frog for beginners and you can read more about them below.
The only aquatic frog on this list is the African Dwarf Frog. There are several aquatic frog species around the world, but none are as easy to care for as the ADF. That’s my opinion anyway. African Dwarf Frogs are often confused with African Clawed Frogs, even in commercial pet stores. This is due to their incredibly similar appearance. Both are very easy to care for, but the ADF seems to be more commonly available.
To keep an African Dwarf Frog, you’ll need a 10-gallon aquarium minimum. The size of the tank really depends on your preference and your wallet. You can go as big as you want, just be sure the height of the aquarium is no more than 12″. These frogs, while aquatic, need to swim to the top of the water to catch a breath of air once in a while. Due to this, it’s best to keep them in water no deeper than 12 inches.
Feeding them is fun and simple. They’re known for eating just about any type of organic material that floats in front of them. Also, it helps that specialty food is available. This is due to their popularity, of course. They’re sold at virtually every pet store you walk into. For more information on African Dwarf Frogs, check the care sheet section of this website.
Red-belly Toads from South America are often confused with another type of a frog, a more popular species; The oriental fire-bellied toad. Both of which are easy to care for but these are easier. They’re great for beginners. They require such small space that a 10-gallon terrarium might actually be overkill. A 10-gallon critter cage will easily hold 6 red-belly toads, maybe more.
The chores to caring for these frogs is typical; feed and mist daily, change the water as needed, and clean occasionally. Probably 15 – 20 minutes of upkeep each week. Feeding them is a little different than larger frogs. Because they’re so small, they need a diet consisting of tiny insects. Things like fruit flies, springtails, and pinhead crickets. All of which are available online or in commercial pet stores.
There are currently 8 species in the Certophrys Genus, all of which are commonly referred to as Pacman Frogs. Another common name they’re known by is “South American Horned Frog”. These are easily the 2nd most popular frogs kept as pets today, second only to poison-dart frogs. And for good reason; their looks are amazing, it’s fun to watch them eat, and they’re super easy to care for.
They spend the majority of their time burrowed into the substrate. Also, they’re nocturnal so you won’t see them moving around very often. When you do get a chance to observe them, it’s quite entertaining. Their plump, round bodies and gigantic mouth make for quite the spectacle around feeding time.
As far as supplies and availability, buying a Pacman Frog won’t set you back too much. A 10-gallon terrarium, some coco-husk fiber substrate, a small water dish, and maybe a plant decoration and you’re good to go. Of course, you’ll need food too. They eat the common items you can readily pick up at your local pet store; crickets, mealworms, waxworms, pinkie mice, etc. As far as the price goes, you can usually find these guys for $20 – $40. A rare color morph might cost a little extra but that’s to be expected.
One thing to know about these frogs is they’re cannibalistic. Only one Pacman Frog should be kept in a terrarium. Should you decide to breed Pacman Frogs, things might get a bit tricky. Ensure they’re well fed before introducing them into the same enclosure. Anway, if you want to learn more about these frogs, check out our full guide in the care sheet section of this website.
American Toads are the epitome of the perfect frog for beginners. Well, they’re actually toads. True Toads to be precise. You see, there is a difference between a frog and a toad but that’s a topic for another post. Anyway, American Toads or Anaxyrus americanus actually describes three species; the Eastern American toad, Dwarf American toad, and Hudson Bay toad.
The reason they’re so easy to care for is that they require so little. They will eat nearly anything you put in front of them, a 10-gallon terrarium will suffice, and they’re really hardy. Most people don’t seek out a place to buy them because they’re usually caught in the wild and kept as pets. While I certainly don’t agree with doing that, it’s just the way it is. I remember being a kid and keeping basically anything my parents would let me, American Toads included.
That’s not an excuse to treat them poorly though. They still have requirements. A nice substrate like eco earth or plantation soil in a 10 to 20-gallon terrarium with a small, shallow water dish is needed. Clean, dechlorinated water should be provided at all times. Also, a nice hollow log, some leaf litter, and plants (real or fake) will help them feel more comfortable. They should be fed regularly and their food needs to be dusted with calcium and vitamin supplements.
I spent some time debating whether or not to add Gray Tree Frogs to this list. They’re not very difficult to care for, but they’re a little more complicated than your average toad. When I consider a frog “easy” to care for, I look at the upkeep time and how delicate the frog is. Most frogs are actually very easy to care for, but some of them are more delicate than others. The Gray Tree Frog is not one of them. They’re fairly hardy, especially for a tree frog. That’s the other reason I added them to this list, I wanted to recommend a good tree frog for beginners.
One of the neat things about the Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor) is its ability to change colors. If you’ve never heard about this frog, you’re probably looking at the picture above and wondering why I keep calling them a “Gray tree frog”. Well, its because they can be gray or green, depending on their surroundings.
I actually found a large one hanging out on my in-law’s window this week. My son HAD to hold him. So after washing our hands in a nearby rain puddle, I grabbed the frog and handed him to my son. He loved it. The frog, not so much. He jumped off the first chance he got and we watched as he disappeared into the grass. He was in great shape, had thick, strong legs and a healthy body. Their overall size is small, but for a treefrog, they’re kind of big. They’re a far cry different from skinny Red-Eyed Tree Frogs. Anyway, I told this story as an example of how hardy they are compared to other tree frogs.
They need a vertical terrarium. Something taller than it is wide. An 18″ x 18″ x 24″ terrarium will house several Gray Tree Frogs. A smaller terrarium, 12″ x 12″ x 18″ will work for one to two at most. They can be kept at room temperature or a little warmer. They will tolerate a wide range of humidity levels but its best to mist their enclosure twice daily. Keep the humidity around or above 50% or a slightly higher. An occasional spike in humidity is recommended.
The frogs listed above just happen to be the ones I think are easy to care for. Truth be told, most frogs are easy to care for provided you do the proper research and planning. Anyway, I’ll make a short list of a few more frogs that are easy to care for, but that didn’t make the list above because I was too lazy to write about them!
The list continues! Each new care sheet I add to this website gets tagged as, beginner, intermediate, or advanced. While the list is currently small, I will continue adding more. Check the beginner’s list by clicking here or by using the main navigation at the top of this page.
The Worst Frogs for Beginners
Now that we’ve taken a look at the best frogs for beginners, let’s have a look at the worst frogs for beginners. These frogs are here because they’re expensive, delicate, take a lot of upkeep, or their setup is complicated.
Remember, don’t be discouraged by this list. You should get the frog or toad you want. It’s as simple as that. My only recommendation is this; do the proper research before buying it. Prepare a nice enclosure and learn everything you can about the species first.
Poison-dart frogs are undeniably cool. They’re colorful, coming in exotic patterns and bright colors. Sure, they’re potentially deadly in the wild but in captivity, they’re virtually harmless. You see, the reason they’re so deadly in the wild is that they feed on alkaline-containing insects. In captivity, they’re given fruit flies, pinhead crickets, and other small insects. Because those insects don’t contain alkaline, the frogs aren’t poisonous. So if that was something you were worried about, don’t. Its safe to keep captive bred poison-dart frogs as pets so long as you don’t feed them alkaline-containing bugs.
Anyway, the reason these frogs are one of the worst for beginners is their requirements. The humidity level needs to stay above 80% at all times. This requires several things. An automated misting system is recommended, which mists the terrarium for you, keeping the relative humidity in the desired range. Since a lot of water is used to keep the humidity high, a drainage layer is needed to keep the substrate from becoming soggy. The other thing is, you’ll likely need to cover most of the ventilation in order to keep the humidity high. Poor air circulation can lead to a list of other problems.
I certainly don’t want to discourage you from ever getting poison-dart frogs! My point is; they’re one of the worst frogs for beginners. A more sophisticated setup is needed to provide a healthy environment.
Vietnamese Mossy Frogs are among my all-time favorites. With their bumpy, green skin and big, round eyes, it’s a wonder why they’re not more popular. They’re a little more complicated to care for than most frogs though. One of the best setups for a mossy frog is called a paludarium. A paludarium combines both land and water, live plants and live fish as well. Now, that set up is not required. What is required is a decent amount of water, a relatively high humidity and a temperature that never goes above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. At least not for an extended period of time.
Mossy frogs are one of the worst frogs for beginners because the upkeep and complicated enclosure setup. Some people keep them in a terrarium with a full water bottom and add cork-bark flats as floating islands, which is easy enough to accomplish. But partial water changes are needed and if you want to use live plants, real fish, and create a land area with a substrate, it becomes complicated. As a beginner, the health of your frog should take center focus. Live plants, drainage layers, air circulation, and other factors can be a distraction.
I hope this list of best and worst frogs for beginners was helpful to you! If so, please consider sharing this page on social media.