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. Daily attention is required, but it’s 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 tend to frown upon this because it can be stressful for a wild animal to be placed in captivity.
American Green Tree Frog Tank Setup
When creating a habitat for American green tree frog pets, 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 areas on the bottom, middle, and towards the top of their tank.
Frogs like to feel safe, having several places to hide whenever they feel threatened. 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:
- Terrarium (preferably 18x18x24 – 12x12x18 minimum)
- A large, shallow water dish
- Branches and plants for climbing
- Heat lamp for creating a temperature gradient
- A non-particulate substrate
- In-cage thermometer & hygrometer
- Spray bottle for misting
Buying the terrarium/tank is the most costly part of the setup. To save you time (and money), I’ve compiled a list of the best tree frog terrarium kits. Feel free to check out that post when you’re finished here.
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 a-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 a 24″x 18″x 36″ terrarium. 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 heating element is recommended. 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 daytime 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 of around 12 hours each. During summertime, the daytime 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.
To further expand on this topic – it’s important to know that high levels of UVB is harmful to amphibians. There is evidence to suggest they can benefit from low levels. If you use a UVB light, don’t use anything above a 5.0, and provide lots of leafy plants for your frogs to hide behind.
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 nighttime hours but no lower than 65 ° F.
A temperature gradient is recommended. Doing this allows the top portion of the enclosure to be at or near 80 °F while the bottom of the enclosure is slightly cooler. This gives your pet the option to move into warmer or cooler temperatures, depending on how they feel.
To create the temperature gradient, place a heat 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.
It’s a good idea to run your heating element through a thermostat to help regulate the temperature.
Once the heat 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 frog’s 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 – be careful, don’t place it on flammable materials.
- Use an in-tank thermometer to check the temperature.
- Creating a temperature gradient is great.
A note about UTH (Under Tank Heaters): They are relatively inefficient at heating enclosures. I’ve had the best results using heat lamps. Heat lamps work better but they dry out the enclosure faster. UTH won’t dry out the enclosure but they typically fail to raise the air temperature.
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 pet 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.
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.
If you decide to use live plants in the enclosure, you’ll need something more suitable for live plants than coco husk fiber. “ABG mix” is popular in the reptile/amphibian hobby because it supports plant life nicely.
ABG mix is a combination of peat moss, sphagnum moss, charcoal, fern, and orchid bark. You can buy ABG mixes online or find a recipe and make your own.
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.
Don’t use untreated tap water. Most municipal water treatment plants use chlorine or chloramines to protect drinking water from harmful contaminants. Because amphibians have semi-permeable skin, and they’re more delicate than humans, these chemicals can be harmful to them.
Regardless, there are products like Repti-Safe that you can use to dechlorinate tap water. Dechlorination agents are cheap and last a long time.
Alternatively, you can fill a bucket of tap water and let it set up for 24 hours. This will remove most of the chlorine.
AGTFs are not great swimmers so a 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 slightly higher. Mist the cage daily. An all-glass terrarium and quality substrate will help retain humidity.
Humidity levels can range up and down but they shouldn’t stay high (or low) for too long. The best way to ensure humidity is within the correct range, get a hygrometer.
There is no shortage of decent thermometer/hygrometer combo meters on the market. They range from $5 to $20+. I recommend getting one for around $15; the extremely cheap ones are wildly inaccurate. See my post on the best thermo/hygro meters for more information.
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.
American Green Tree Frogs Eat:
- Wax Worms
- Dubia Roaches
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 gut-loaded crickets, dusted with vitamin powder 3 – 4 times per week. Adults eat less often than juveniles.
Keep a close eye on the frog so you can adjust their diet accordingly. If your frog is overweight, consider reducing the number of crickets you feed them each meal. Likewise, if they’re underweight – you need to feed them more crickets per feeding or feed them more times per week.
Over-eating usually isn’t a problem with this species, it’s the nutritional quality of their diet you need to worry about. This is why they need gut-loaded crickets and supplements.
You can learn a lot more on this topic by reading my post: What Do Frogs Eat?
Breeding American Green Tree Frogs
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 the breeding season. In captivity, however, the climate within their enclosure rarely changes.
It’s up to you to make the changes in order to mimic the rainy season.
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 the 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.
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.
The best way to feed tadpoles, in my experience, is by feeding them boiled, baby spinach leaves. Mix this with a few pellets of commercial tadpole food.
Tadpoles primarily eat plant matter before metamorphosis. Afterward, their digestive system favors that of insects. So, as they grow lets and absorb their tails, they will gain the ability to hop on land.
At this point, you can begin feeding them pinhead crickets or wingless fruit flies.
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.
American Green Tree Frogs 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
This section is meant to answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding keeping American Green Tree Frogs as pets. Feel free to use the comment section if you’ve still got questions.
Yes, for the most part. They’re a hardy species that tolerates a wide range of temperatures and humidity. Despite this, hobbyists should do their best to keep their pets as comfortable as possible. The most difficult part, in my opinion, is creating a suitable enclosure.
No, not really. Few amphibians tolerate handling and this species is not one of them.
Do not feed them dead crickets. First, they likely won’t even acknowledge a dead cricket. They’re carnivores and like to ambush live insects. Moreover, the crickets (or other feeder insects) should be healthy in order to keep your pet tree frog healthy.
TLDR; The Basics of American Green Tree Frog Pet Care
This is a long guide and trying to summarize it in a few paragraphs is difficult. One needs to spend plenty of time researching the topic before buying a frog.
American Green Tree Frogs are mostly hardy and beginner-friendly. They enjoy vertical space over horizontal space. For that reason, a vertical-style terrarium is recommended. You’ll need a heating element to keep the enclosure within the recommended range.
Daily misting is required and the hobbyist should monitor a thermometer/hygrometer often to ensure the temperature and humidity are within a suitable range.
Adults eat three to four times per week and they need live, healthy insects. Finally, a day and night cycle is required! You may need a supplemental light, placed on a timer, to ensure there is plenty of light in the enclosure during the daytime hours.