White's Tree Frog

White’s Tree Frog

Also known as Dumpy Frog or Australian Green Tree Frog (Ranoidea caerulea)

Author: John Wellington

Updated: July 6, 2020

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Also known as “Australian Green Tree Frog” or “Dumpy Tree Frog“, this is one of the largest, most popular tree frogs kept as pets among hobbyists. They come in several different morphs and they’re one of the few amphibians that tolerate occasional handling.

That’s precisely what this guide is all about; caring for white’s tree frogs. I’ll go over all the basics including their habitat set up, all the supplies you need, what to feed them, and more.

In the Wild

White’s tree frogs are found primarily in Australia. They inhabit nearly half the country on the North, North-Eastern side. In addition to this, white’s tree frogs are found in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia.

These large tree frogs inhabit mostly tropical rainforests but can often be found near bodies of water in low lying grasslands and swamps. Being a true arboreal creature, you’ll find them in the canopy of trees in whatever location they’re dwelling in.

This species was first described by John White, hence their common name “White’s Tree Frog”. In Australia, they’re simply referred to as green tree frogs.

White’s Tree Frog Pet Care Guide

Caring for a white’s tree frogs is fairly simple once you’ve learned the basics. Setting up their habitat is important but once finished, the rest is easy.

One of the reasons for their popularity is their size. They’re bigger than your average tree frog. Adult White’s Tree Frogs grow up to 4.5 inches in length. Not only are they long, but they’re also heavy.

The other reason they’re so popular is that they tolerate handling more than most other amphibians. This doesn’t mean you should hold them all the time but the occasional handling is fine!

Their size and weight need to be taken into consideration when setting up their habitat. Small plants will likely be crushed and housing more than one together requires a large enclosure.

Habitat Setup

Dumpy tree frogs need a well-thought-out habitat setup. While it’s true they’re one of the easiest species to keep as pets, you need to put careful consideration into their habitat setup.

Below is a list of the recommended items to get before purchasing your first dumpy. I’ll go over each of them in more detail in the sections below.

  • Terrarium / Enclosure – Due to the sheer size of the frog, you should aim for a 18″ L x 18″ W x 24″ H vertical-style terrarium if you’re housing 2 – 3 dumpies. This Exo Terra on amazon or this Zilla terrarium is ideal. You can go as small as a 12″ L x 12″ W x 18″ H for 1 – 2 dumpies but that doesn’t leave them much room to move around.
  • Substrate – A nice ABG mix is recommended for bioactive vivarium setups. It will provide all the nutrients for live plants and support a population of springtails and isopods. If you’re going with fake plants you can use a simple coco-husk substrate.
  • Drainage Layer (optional) – A drainage layer is required if you plan to do a waterfall feature. A white’s tree frog needs a humid environment but nothing that requires you to set up a drainage layer.
  • Plants, branches, and decorations – Branches are a must for any tree frog enclosure. The goal is to provide your pet with many opportunities for both climbing and hiding. Plants and decorations are utilized as hiding places for your frogs.
  • Lights – UVB isn’t required but it won’t hurt tree frogs in low doses. The most important aspect of lighting is to give your pet a day/night cycle. 12 hours of day/light and 12 hours of night/dark is recommended. Consider an LED grow light or small T5 for live plants. Just be sure they’re not overheating the cage!
  • Misting or Fogging System (optional) – A full-blown misting system or fogging system would only serve as a convenience to you (they’re mostly automated). You need to mist the enclosure daily to ensure humidity is within the recommended range but this can be accomplished with a cheap spray bottle or mister bottle.
  • Heating – A heat lamp is required to keep a temperature gradient within the enclosure. Be sure to read the temperature section for more information.
  • Thermometer / Hygrometer – You need a thermo/hygrometer in order to keep track of the temperature and humidity within the enclosure. It’s a requirement for proper husbandry but they’re cheap and easy to use. I recommend one near the top and one at the bottom.
  • Water Dish – Arboreal frogs are rarely good swimmers but a water dish is still required. It doesn’t need to be gigantic but it should adequately provide the number of frogs you have with water.

Terrarium

Australian green tree frogs require more space than most other arboreal species due to their overall size. Still, one can get by with a minimum of an 12″ L x 12″ W x 18″ H for a single frog. Having said that, most people want two or three frogs per enclosure. For this, you will need a bigger terrarium.

  • 24x18x18 vertical terrarium (recommended) – 12″ L x 12″ W x 18″ minimum

To put things simply, you can do 1 – 2 dumpies in a small vertical terrarium or 2 – 3 in a large vertical terrarium. Many hobbyists put up 4 of them in a single 18″ L x 18″ W x 24″ H Exo Terra (or equivalent brand/size) and they seem to do well.

Substrate

The type of substrate you should use largely depends on what type of setup you’re going for. A naturalistic setup with fake plants and branches could use coco-husk fiber substrate like eco-earth.

Bioactive vivariums with live plants, springtails, and isopods would benefit from a substrate like ABG mix. This will provide everything the plants need to grow and thrive.

One benefit substrate has in frog husbandry is that it retains water and helps regulate the humidity. Certain types of substrate (like coco-husk fiber) retain water really well. This is great if you’re trying to raise the humidity within the enclosure. Different kinds of substrates are good at letting water drain.

Temperature

White’s tree frogs prefer warm temperatures but they also enjoy a range from warm to cool. They need a heat source (a heat lamp, for example) for their setup because their recommended temperature range is higher than the ambient temperature in most people’s homes.

  • Temperatures between 85 – 75 °F during the day & low 70’s – high 60’s at night.

It’s best to provide a temperature gradient within the enclosure. This means you have higher temps at the top of the enclosure and lower temps at the bottom.

A small heat lamp should provide all the heating you’ll need. Always pair your heating device with a thermostat to prevent overheating. A thermostat is meant to shut off a device if it malfunctions and overheats.

Anyway, shoot for a temperature around 85 degrees Fahrenheit towards the top of the enclosure and 75 degrees towards the bottom. Having this gradient will allow your dumpy a range of temperatures to choose from. Accompany this with plenty of branches and leaves for hiding and he/she will be happy.

Humidity

Having the correct humidity is essential for proper care of any amphibian. This species likes the average humidity to be around 50% with occasional spikes around 70% – 80%.

  • Maintain humidity around 50% with occasional spikes around 70 – 80%

Achieving this is as simple as misting the enclosure twice a day. Be sure to get a quality thermometer/hygrometer so you can tell what the humidity is after each misting.

You definitely don’t have to set up an automatic misting system (like MistKing) or fogger but you can if you really want to. So long as the humidity stays within the recommended levels.

Ventilation is needed to keep the air circulating. Terrariums from Exo Terra, Zilla, and Zoo Med are great for this as they have screen lids and vents near the front latch.

Lighting

The main purpose of a lighting fixture for your white’s tree frog is to provide them with a day and night cycle. Basements or dark rooms are good places to keep your pet amphibian but you need to remedy this by providing lights for the day time.

After all, you can’t let your dumpy sit in the dark all the time. They need to know when it’s day time and when it’s night time.

  • Recommended 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark

Another reason lighting is important is when you have live plants in the enclosure. Real, living plants require light and many of them won’t grow without special “grow lights”.

Grow lights come in many different shapes and forms but two of the most popular kinds are LEDs and T5 grow lights. Since this is a care guide for white’s tree frogs I won’t go into detail about lighting. Just know that you may need special lighting to provide everything your live plants need to grow.

Water Quality

The quality of water you give your white’s tree frog is important. All amphibians need clean, dechlorinated water. Tap water is the easiest source of water for most hobbyists to obtain but it’s often the worst choice.

  • Use clean, dechlorinated water in a shallow water dish

Tap water is the stuff most of us get out of the kitchen faucet. It comes directly from the municipal water treatment plant where raw water is cleaned and treated with chemicals like chlorine and chloramines. They’re necessary to kill harmful bacteria in the water and they’re considered fairly safe for human consumption.

Those chemicals are irritating and harmful for amphibians, who readily absorb water and all the chemicals in the water, through their skin. It affects them differently than us. For this reason, you need to treat tap water with a water dechlorination agent or use bottled spring water or RO (reverse osmosis) water.

Treating chlorinated tap water is as easy as putting a few drops of a dechlorination agent in it. ReptiSafe water conditioner is a product I’ve used and recommend, but similar products will work just as well.

Once you’ve got clean water you’ll need somewhere to put it. A medium-sized, shallow water dish is great for adult white’s tree frog.

I like to use a water dish at least twice the size of the frog. Also, take into account the number of inhabitants in the enclosure. A bigger water dish may be required for an enclosure with 3 or 4 white’s tree frogs. Last but not least, make sure the water dish isn’t too deep!

Plants, Branches and Decorations

The proper care of a dumpy frogs starts with safety in the enclosure. Decorating its habitat might seem trivial but consider the size and weight of this tree frog.

Logs and branches need to be sturdy and placed in such a way that they won’t fall over or crush your frog.

Plants, whether live or fake, need to be placed carefully as well. Choose strong, sturdy plants and place them strategically so they won’t get pulled out of the ground or crushed by the weight of your frog!

Again, when using real plants you need the proper substrate and lighting.

White’s Tree Frog Diet

In captivity, white’s tree frogs eat mostly appropriately-sized crickets although dubia roaches, horned worms, and wax worms can be used as well.

  • Crickets (dusted with vitamins/mineral)
  • Dubia Roaches
  • Waxworms and Horned Worms

It’s important to dust your dumpy’s feeder insects with vitamins/minerals and calcium. This is required to maintain a healthy diet in captivity. What frogs eat in captivity isn’t enough to keep them healthy, hence the reason for supplements.

They have far more options and variety in the wild than they do in captivity. This is where they get all the vitamins and minerals they need. This variety isn’t available in captivity. We’re limited to what we can buy at the pet store or rear at home.

So, now that you know what to feed your pet white’s tree frog, let’s determine how much and how often to feed him. Most hobbyists feed their dumpy’s 3 – 4 times per week. This is a good start.

The amount of feeder insects you give them depends on their size and age. A good starting point is 2 – 3 insects (crickets, for example) per feeding. If your frogs eat all the insects, you need to increase the number by 1 the next time you feed them.

When feeding your new dumpy, start with 2 – 3 appropriately-sized crickets every other day. If all the crickets are eaten within an hour of feeding, give them 3 – 4 crickets the next time you feed them.

A large Australian Green Tree Frog

Repeat this process until you’ve found the right amount to feed them. Just know that overeating is a common problem for this species. Proper care includes ensuring your pet isn’t overweight. Feeding them fewer crickets per feeding session is fine when the frog is overweight.

As always, dust their crickets or other feeder insects with reptile vitamins/minerals and calcium to ensure they’re getting all their nutritional needs.

Reproduction

Breeding white’s tree frogs and raising tadpoles to froglets and eventually juvenile frogs is a rewarding experience. Doing this requires careful attention to the habitat and, of course, at least one male and one female.

Sexing

The first step is fairly obvious; ensure you have both male and female Australian green tree frogs. Determining this is pretty straight forward, especially if you have several frogs to compare.

Females are larger, growing up to 4.5 inches in length while males are smaller.

Another way to distinguish males from females is by their nuptial pads. Males have nuptial pads that are found on what is considered the thumb of their front limbs. Look on the inside of the thumb for a dark spot and/or bump.

Once you’ve determined you have both male and female, it’s time for the next step.

Breeding

In order to get most white’s tree frogs to breed, you need to place them in a rain chamber. A rain chamber is a special setup that mimics rainfall. Hobbyists build them with water pumps and PVC pipes to circulate water from the bottom of the tank to the top. Once at the top, the water drips down at a rate similar to rain.

Why is this important? Well, its meant to simulate breeding season. During this time of year, the temperature is higher and its raining. In addition to this, food is more plentiful so feeding them a bit extra may prove helpful.

Two or three months of lower humidity and less water accompanied by lower temperatures and less food is a good way to mimic winter months. Once the winter months are over, do you best to mimic the rainy season. Increase the temperature, put them into a rain chamber, and feed them more food.

It also helps to have competition between the males. Having 3 or 4 males per female is a good ratio.

With any luck, you’ll start seeing eggs in the enclosure within a few days.

Tadpoles

Eggs and hatched tadpoles need to be moved into a separate container as the adult frogs might eat them. Be mindful when transferring them; they need time to acclimate to the water in the new enclosure.

Water Temperature & Quality

Before transferring, make sure the water they’re going into is between 82 – 85 °F. The water should remain at that temperature throughout the duration.

Also, the quality of water is very important. It needs to stay clean and should not contain chlorine or chloramines from tap water. Use water conditioner or better yet, use RO (reverse osmosis) or bottled spring water.

Once you’ve prepared your water its time to transfer the tadpoles. Placing them in a bag filled with water from the rain chamber and placing that bag inside the water in their new tank is preferred. This will give them time to acclimate.

Feeding the Tadpoles

At this point, you’ll want to start feeding the tadpoles 2 – 3 times per day. Each feeding should allow the tadpoles 45 – 60 mins to eat before removing the leftovers. This will help keep the water from getting polluted.

There’s a variety of things you can feed them but many owners like frozen worms, boiled lettuce, commercial tadpole food, or hard-boiled eggs.

I’ve personally had the most success with a combination of boiled spinach leaves and commercial tadpole pellets. The tadpoles would primarily eat the boiled spinach leaves but occasionally I could see them eating the pellets, which are high in protein.

White’s Tree Froglets

As the tadpoles metamorphose into tailless, baby frogs you should provide them with a climbing surface. Once their tail has been absorbed they are ready to move into a terrarium.

Froglets can be fed appropriately-sized feeder insects at this point. Pinhead crickets or wingless fruit flies should be small enough to provide a healthy meal for a small white’s tree frog.

Handling Your White’s Tree Frog

White’s tree frogs are one of the few species of amphibians that tolerate handling. Some owners still prefer not to hold them but 10 – 15 minutes once or twice a week is alright.

Be sure that your hands are clean and you’re practicing proper handling etiquette. Do your best to keep them from jumping out of your hands and falling to the ground and getting hurt.

I hope this care guide has been helpful to you! If you have any questions, feel free to use the commenting system below.

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