How to Set Up a Tree Frog Terrarium
Tree frogs are arboreal, which means they spend most of their time in trees. In captivity, they don’t have access to trees but branches, sticks, vines, and plants will keep them happy. Vertical space is a must. Terrariums at least 18 inches in height will suffice.
The overall size (width, depth, and height) depends on the number of frogs you’re keeping. As for the setup, well, that’s what this post is for.
I’ll explain everything you need to set up a great tree frog enclosure; from terrariums sizes and brands to helpful tips for decorating, and everything in between.
Basic Cage Setup for Tree Frogs
Setting up a tree frog enclosure consists of creating climbing areas in a vertically oriented terrarium. Through the usage of branches or sticks, vines, and plants, a person can create the ideal habitat for any arboreal species.
It’s important to remember, this guide won’t work for every type of tree frog. Each one is different, requiring different temperatures and humidity levels.
The basic build will get you started, but it’s up to you to learn the precise conditions needed to keep your pet treefrog happy and healthy.
This can be accomplished by reading care sheets. Find out the recommended temperature, humidity level, and whether or not your special lighting is required.
These factors will determine whether or not you need more equipment like automated misting systems, foggers, UVB lighting, a heating mat, etc. Use this guide as a base example on how to set up a treefrog terrarium.
Step 1: Choosing Your Terrarium
Before you can do anything, you need a terrarium. Chances are, you’ve already got one but if you don’t, I’ll point you in the right direction. As I already mentioned, you need a tall terrarium. That is, something taller than it is wide. As for the terrarium size, well that depends on the number of frogs you’re keeping and their overall size once they’re full-grown.
- 12″ x 12″ x 18″ terrarium will house 1 – 2 treefrogs. Again, this depends on the type of tree frog and how big they get. You can put 2 full-grown Red-Eyed Tree Frogs in a terrarium this small because they’re not very big. On the other hand, White’s Tree Frogs grow much larger, so two of them would need a larger enclosure.
- 18″ x 18″ x 24″ terrarium can hold 3 – 4 tree frogs. So it really comes down to the full-grown size of the frogs you’re keeping, and how many you want in the same cage. Keep in mind, you can use just about any size container 18″ in height or taller. However, the two sized mentioned above are the most common sizes for tree frogs. They’re also relatively inexpensive compared to larger terrariums.
So, here are my recommendations. If you’re a first-time amphibian owner, I recommend getting a tree frog terrarium kit. Exo Terra, Zoo Med, and Zilla all have kits that work well for arboreal frogs.
You will probably still need to buy a few items, but as a whole, it comes with most of the things you need to get started. Otherwise, if you’re not a new herpetoculturist and you’ve got some extra supplies lying around, you may opt for getting just the terrarium itself.
|Exo Terra Rainforest Habitat Kit, Small|
This is an excellent starter kit. Great for 1 – 2 tree frogs. (12x12x18)
|Exo Terra Rainforest Habitat Kit, Large|
My favorite starter kit. Houses 3 – 4 tree frogs. (18x18x24)
|Zilla Tropical Vertical Kit|
An awesome starter kit from Zilla. 1 – 2 adult tree frogs. (12x12x18)
I did a review of the various frog terrarium starter kits and, in my personal opinion, the Exo Terra Rainforest Habitat Kit offers the best deal. Especially at the time of writing this guide, the small habitat kit is on sale for $85.06 on Amazon, plus free shipping if you have Prime.
I don’t know how long the sale will last, but it’s worth checking the link to see if they’re still on sale. As for the Zoo Med Naturalistic Terrarium Frog Kit, it’s kind of hard to find.
They’re sometimes available in pet stores but I wasn’t able to find one online. Anyway, once you’ve got your terrarium, move on to step 2.
Step 2: Preparation
Once you’ve purchased your terrarium and you’re ready to set everything up, place the terrarium in the spot you want to keep it. When everything is set up, the terrarium will be heavy. Heavy enough you won’t want to be moving it anywhere. It’s a good idea to do the set up where you plan to keep it forever. Or at least for a while.
Before we begin adding things to the enclosure, it’s a good idea to clean the glass with a towel and distilled water. The only point in doing this is to remove any lingering dust.
Be mindful not use to chemical cleaners as it might be harmful to your delicate amphibians. Also, tap-water high in calcium will eventually lead to calcium build up. To avoid this, use distilled water instead.
Step 3: Add the Substrate
Now we’re ready to start adding everything into the enclosure. The first thing is the substrate. In most cases, this will be coco fiber or similar substrates. Because tree frogs are arboreal, they won’t be spending much time on the ground.
Either way, it’s best to give them a non-particulate substrate to save them from impaction. Eco Earth and Plantation soil are both great options. They’re cheap and come in compressed bricks like the one in the picture above. Follow the directions to prepare the substrate for use.
Depending on the requirements of the treefrog you’re keeping, it might be wise to set up a drainage layer. Typically this is only required when dealing with a lot of water. A custom waterfall, misting systems, etc. High humidity is a requirement for some frogs, but not all.
If you know you need a drainage layer, keep reading the rest of step 3. Otherwise, you can fill the terrarium with 2 – 3 inches of substrate and continue to step 4.
For setting up a drainage layer, you need a filter medium. Most people use hydroballs, which are great. I, on the other hand, recommend something else. Matala Filter isn’t designed specifically for terrariums, but it’s one of the best products I’ve ever used for a drainage layer.
So first, fill the bottom of the enclosure with 1.5 – 2 inches of hydroballs or use a custom cut piece of Matala filter. On top of that, add a substrate barrier; a mesh screen. It should allow water to flow through but keeps your substrate above the first layer. On top of the mesh screen, add your substrate.
Step 4: Add Branches, Sticks or Logs
Treefrogs and other arboreal species appreciate vertical climbing space. In the wild, they spend most of their time atop trees and other vegetation. As such, it’s recommended that you provide several climbing opportunities in the form of branches, sticks, or logs.
Which type of terrarium wood you choose is entirely up to you. High humidity enclosures would benefit from a hardwood, something that can be waterlogged without becoming moldy or breaking apart.
Should the enclosure not require super high humidity, a large grapevine will look nice. Regardless of the conditions, cork bark is always a good option.
You should strategically place the branches and sticks in a way to allows your treefrog several different climbing and resting areas in different heights of the enclosure.
Step 4: Add Plants and Vines
Plants are a must-have for tree frogs. Not only do they provide more climbing options and great hiding locations, but they prefer to sleep on leaves. My red-eyed tree frogs have their favorites, but most often I find them on the long, thin leaves that seem to wrap around them perfectly.
Whether the plants are real or fake, it doesn’t matter. Obviously, with real plants, you will need a low-powered grow light. Something designed for terrarium usage, with no greater than 5.0 UVB.
Another thing plants provide is a storage place for water. Frogs drink water droplets from plant leaves more often then they do from a water dish. It’s a good practice to mist the plants especially to ensure there are drops of water all over the terrarium.
Aside from live or fake plants, adding vines is a great way to create more climbing places. I personally haven’t tried all the different brand’s of terrarium vines, but I’m sure they all do a good job.
Step 5: Add the Small Water Dish
Even though tree frogs are amphibians, they’re not the best swimmers. They enjoy shallow water. So a dish small, shallow water dish will suffice (click here to see one on amazon). Having said that, the size of the water container doesn’t really matter.
What matters is the depth of the water. It’s important to note that tree frogs won’t spend a great deal of their time in the water. They’re more likely to drink water droplets left on leaves from the last misting. If no droplets are available or they simply want to soak their skin, they will find their way into the water dish.
Fill the water dish with clean, dechlorinated water. The water should be free from toxins. Tap-water often contains chemicals like chlorine, which are harmful to frogs and other amphibians.
So, if you chose to use tap-water, I recommend treating it with ReptiSafe or a similar water conditioning agent. For more information on this topic, check out my safe-water guide for amphibians.
Step 6: Add the Lights, Thermometer, and Hygrometer
At this point, you’re nearing completion of your tree frog terrarium. All that’s left is to add any remaining gadgets you need. These items depend on the individual needs of the treefrog you’re keeping.
Should your frog or live plants require special lighting, you can install that now. Other products include automated misting systems and foggers.
Those items, as I mentioned, may or may not be required depending on the species you’re building the habitat for. For all frogs, I recommend a nice digital thermometer & hygrometer.
Thermometers & hygrometers are fairly inexpensive and they measure the humidity level and temperature inside your terrarium. With this information, you can manually adjust the temperature by use of a heating pad or basking light. As for humidity, well, simply mist the enclosure using a spray bottle.
A hygrometer & thermometer combo can be placed in the top corner while an additional thermometer can be placed in the bottom. Checking the temperature at the top and bottom of the enclosure gives you a better understanding of what’s going on in the terrarium.
This is ideal for checking a temperature gradient, where the top of the enclosure is meant to be warmer than the bottom. Achieving a temperature gradient like this is most effective by the use of a basking lamp, which is positioned above the enclosure.
Anyway, don’t worry about doing this unless it’s a recommendation for your tree frog.
Step 7: Mist the Enclosure
Now that you’re finished with the setup, it’s a good idea to thoroughly mist the entire terrarium; the substrate, branches, leaves, and everything else. Don’t be shy, get the entire enclosure wet.
This is a great opportunity to ensure you’re hygrometer is working. If you notice the humidity level is dropping too fast, you might consider covering a portion of the screen lid with a piece of plastic or custom-cut piece of glass to increase the humidity in the terrarium.
After this, you’re ready to introduce your frog to his or her new home.
Introducing Your Tree Frog to its New Enclosure
It’s always a good idea to be gentle and patience when introducing your frogs to a new home. In most cases, your pet will be in a small, plastic container, especially if you just bought one from a pet store.
Otherwise, you may be transferring them from an old terrarium to the new. Either way, open the plastic container and set it inside the new enclosure.
Allow your pet to hop out of the plastic container on their own. Once you’ve noticed they’re venturing out into their new home, gently remove the plastic container and close the terrarium doors.
All done! I hope this guide has helped you in setting up the perfect enclosure for your tree frogs.
We have an aquarium that measures 39” wide x 29” tall x16” deep and has a hood. Would this make an acceptable habitat? Concerned the hood would limit air flow. Does the substrate need to be cleaned or changed out?
It should work. Many people use vertical-style terrariums but really, they’re usually 24″ in height (or less). So, 29-inches in height will be great. The airflow requirements depend on the habitat and how humid it is. Substrate does need to be changed every 3 – 4 months unless you have a bioactive enclosure.
Hi John, I am being gifted a frog set up. The tank is 45 x 45 x 45. Is that big enough for the three green tree frogs or should I be looking to upsize?
Hey there! You can probably get 3 American Green Tree Frogs in there but only 2 White’s Tree Frogs, as they’re much larger.
I have a small grays tree frog and was wondering what the best plants, substrate, and background would be? Also how often should he be fed, I have been doing it every other day [He really likes to eat and is super active], He hs been eating extra small crickets and fruit flies.
Hey there! You’ll find this guide helpful.
i have the same tank as you, but mine lacks the level of plants and greenery as yours. What plants did you use/ where did you get them? thanks!
Hi, I’m wanting to start a frog habitat and I have a 45 gallon tank from previous fish, was wondering if I can have just one white tree frog in the tank or is there a thing as too big? Or should I get two frogs?
That’s fine, Cristina. Typically people keep tree frogs in vertical-style terrariums because they’re arboreal and prefer vertical space. How tall is it?
I keep a White’s tree frog in the small & tall Zilla terrarium. My animal husbandry seems to outshine my green thumb though and all the plants I’ve tried thus far have died. I suspect the high humidity. I ca however grow a nice lawn. Whilst reseeding parts of my lawn, on a lark, I seeded the terrarium with the same (a fescue, blue grass mix). It didn’t occur to me until a few weeks later that there was always a potential for sensitivity to some flora. My frog looks good though they general stay on the substrate, and hasn’t lost appetite. Is there any problem with grass in the tank? If seems not, and I should have researched first, but here I am.
Consider doing some research on fescue!! I will eventually. There is a long list of plants that should be avoided in terrariums and a quick google search yielded some concerning headlines! Your frogs likely won’t eat the fescue but it could be a situation where you feed the crickets to your frog and the crickets eat some fescue… then your frog eats the cricket.
how many watts of a uvb bulb do i need for 1 red eye tree frog?
I wouldn’t go over a 5.0 UVB bulb and be sure to provide plenty of hiding places!
Hello! I have one green tree frog and was wondering how often to feed the frog and how many crickets?
Hey Brian! It depends how big the frog is. The size of the crickets you feed your frog shouldn’t be larger than the distance between the frog’s eyes. A few crickets every other day should suffice. Consider reading my guide on what frogs eat for more information!
Hello- I had a tree frog enter the house by way of a hearty fern that I didn’t want to freeze. I’ve set up the exo terra terrarium that you recommended but I do have a question that I cannot find an answer to. I feel so dumb asking this, was I supposed to place the foam background inside the tank or not? I did and now I’m wondering if I made a mistake? Thank you for your knowledge – I really love this website.
Hey, Michelle! That’s a great question and thank you for asking! I assume you’re talking about the decorative foam piece that comes with the terrarium? Kind of looks like rock? Yes, they’re meant to be left in the terrarium but you certainly don’t have to use it!
I am setting up a larger tank for 3 green tree frogs for my environmental class. I am looking at the fogger system, would a mini fogger be a good purchase to have the misting? I will have all the plants and a some logs as well as a waterfall water system….I am most concerned trying to keep the humidity up; especially over the weekend when I may not be here to mist the cage!
Is it possible to set the fogger on an automatic timer? This will keep them going over the weekend. Also, keep in mind of their recommended humidity range. an American green tree frog likes humidity around 50% or a littler higher while an Australian green tree frog prefers something between 70% – 80%.
Hello! I’m interested in buying two Australian White Green Tree Frogs, could I use a 12x12x18 terrarium?
It will work. White’s Tree Frogs get big compared to other tree frogs though! I usually recommend spending a little extra money and getting an 18x18x24 if possible!
Hi! I’ve been setting up a terrarium for my daughter and I’ve been visiting your site during the entire process for tips, thank you so much!
We are adding two green tree frogs but our problem is humidity. I can’t seem to keep it between the 50-60% mark (I believe that’s what I read). I purchased the zilla starter kit you mentioned above and added two tropical live plants along with some zilla moss and artificial plants and a vine. Im going today to purchase a spray bottle to mist – how often and how much should I mist for this setup? Should this be enough for curing our humidity levels dropping so fast and so much? Or do you have other suggestions? I work from home so misting throughout the day isn’t a problem and I don’t have the extra funds to purchase anything more at the moment. Thanks for your help!
Hey Monica! I’m glad this has helped you! Are you using a cocohusk fiber substrate like eco earth? That should help retain some humidity within the enclosure; the moss too. Regardless, you’ll probably need to mist the enclosure at least twice a day. Some people choose to cover half the screen lid with a piece of glass (or something similar) to help trap in some humidity. You still want air circulation, though. So completely covering the lid is frowned upon lol.
Thanks for the tips. Can you give direction to feeding a green tree frog? Is there an easy way to do it. Should we drop the crickets in the terrarium with the frog? Is it normal for the frog to stay hidden all day and or stay in one place all day?
Yes, sure! Simply drop the crickets on the substrate in your frog’s enclosure. You may want to dust the crickets with supplements first. In this case, dust the crickets then place them on the substrate of the terrarium. Do this in the evening time. Your tree frog will eat when he/she wakes up! Yes, it’s normal for them to sleep in the same spot during the day.
Hello, total beginner with frogs, my tank is 15x15x18, what type of frogs would you recommend? And can I have two in the terrarium?
Hey there! For that sized enclosure I recommend a small arboreal frog (tree frog). You can house two of them especially if they’re small. For a large tree frog you might consider a White’s tree frog. Another good option is a Red-Eyed Tree Frog. They’re smaller.
Hi, I have a tank that is 22 inches tall but it is much longer than it is tall. Is this still alright for a tree frog? Thanks
That’s fine. A lot of people use small vertical terrariums approximately 12x12x18 (18 being the height). I like the 18x18x24 (24 height) personally. Since your enclosure is 22-inches in height, there won’t be a problem. Do your best to provide lots of climbing areas! Tree branches, vines, etc – extending towards the top of the enclosure. Good luck!
just starting my grandson with a snowflake tree frog. Purchased the Exo-terra 18″ tank. Should I put a water dish, or set up like you have above with water in front of hydroballs?
Other sites say they urinate in water so change often. How do you do this if water is stationary?
A small water dish will suffice. That will make it easier to do water changes as well. Simply take the dish out, clean it occasionally and put it back in the enclosure with new/clean water. You can do this every two to three days.
I’ve been raising Cope’s Gray tree frogs from tadpoles this summer. We just had our first freeze (Atlanta) and I brought inside the last four (they have back legs). If I set up a terrarium to overwinter them, will they survive? I doubt they’ll live if I release them outside after they morph. Any guidance is appreciated! Never had tadpoles this late in the year.
Absolutely! So long as you take good care of them, they should be fine! Most captive frogs are kept within the same temperature range year round and they’re perfectly healthy.
I kept wild treefrogs over last winter in terrarium set up feeding them crickets etc and let them out this past March.
I live in VA in 2nd floor apartment and these little guys stay up in my railing planters and I have a
fountain going all summer but now it’s November and the large ones stay under my now empty fountain but I have a tiny 3/4in baby hanging around out in open. So will it be okay being so tiny
to survive the winter here not hiding somewhere ? Or can I bring it in and keep in small terrarium?
I do have pet store that has small crickets but don’t know if they are small enough for this little one if I keep it?
Pet stores usually carry various sizes of crickets. Pinhead crickets, small, medium, large. I’m not sure how well the tiny frog will do during the winter. I would imagine most of frogs are already burrowed in a nice hiding place for the winter months.
So I have purchased a 12 x 12 x 18 terrarium from zoomed and was hoping to get one RETF to put in it. I was advised this was too small after I had bought it but I was wondering what you think? Also what exact bulbs are recommened? I bought a heat mat and I have a UVB coil light above and a temp and humidity reader but was wondering if this was incorrect?
That is a bit small but it could work for a while. Something bigger is preferable but you wouldn’t be the first person to keep a single from in a 12x12x18. A 5.0 UVB bulb can be used during the day time but you should provide plenty of hiding places. Branches, plants, etc
So I have a treefrog that lives in my shower. Unfortunately it lost a hand somehow and can’t get around very easy I noticed. The last 2 days I have caught some flies to feed it. I’m thinking about turning my old lizard tank into a home for it for now since it has been getting very cold. What so you normally feed them since the flies will be gone soon due to the weather?
What type of frog is it? I found a tree frog once that was missing one of its frog legs and it did just fine. He was able to climb the side of my house and catch bugs near a light. Setting it free into the wild is probably the best bet 🙂
I got a tank thats 20in x 10in x 10in will that be ok? And I put in a lot of leaves and sticks how do I clean the tank?
That’s pretty small. It may work for a single, small tree frog. What species did you have in mind?
We have a White’s Dumpy frog in a 20gal terrarium . . . can we set it up near a window so long as we are keeping his humidty and temperature even? My thought is that it would better help regulate the day/night cycle and provide natural sunlight? Please advise.
I see what you mean by regulating their day/night cycle and this is a good question. The only concern is with the window. I had to move one of my enclosure away from a window because some cold air was getting through. Also, if the sun is shining directly through the window it can cause the temperature in the enclosure to raise too high. Pay very close attention to the temperature and humidity!
Is it okay if I put one tree frog in a big 18x18x24 terrarium or do u recommend a smaller terrarium for just one frog
That’s fine! Do you mean 24″ in height or width? Either way, that’s a nice size for a tree frog. You can go smaller if you’re keeping a single frog in there but you certainly don’t have to. It will be fine, by itself, in that size of enclosure.
Is it okay if I put my tree frog in a tank that is not tall and instead wide?
How tall is it? I’ve seen people do this and they will likely be fine, so long as there are plenty of climbing spots. I do recommend a vertical terrarium though.
What did you use to secure the vines and branches in place?
Little black zip-ties work on branches. Part of it was buried. If you’re using expanding foam for the background you can anchor one end in that.
Can tree frogs live In a tank outside?
It’s possible so long as the environment suits their needs. You’ve got to make sure they’re not too hot or too cold and that the humidity is suitable.
Yes definitely the most informative for a beginner and Ive been looking all day!
I’m glad it helped!
I have the exo terra 24inch long x 18inch high x 18ch deep…is this OK for a single whites tree frog? I’m planning on making levels with branches and magnetic ledges. Also with heating (I’m in the uk) should I use a heat mat as well as some form of lighting. I have the exo terra canopy and it can take 3 bulbs…and what uvb bulb do you recommend. I had a whites before in a similar tank and he was with me at least 8 years and was an adult when I had him…I found he would jump across the tank rather than climb hence I’m asking if this viv is OK.
I don’t see why not! An 18x18x18 exo terra will suffice for a single Dumpy so something bigger, even if its horizontal, will work too! I need to create a post concerning UVB bulbs and amphibians. It’s a huge topic. Until then, I’d say just go with a grow light (if you have live plants) and use a calcium with D3 supplement!
Hello! I was wondering how I can clean the water so it can be safe for frogs, do I get a container and try to filter out the water?
It depends on your setup. If you’re able to take out their water dish you can simply change out the water. If you have a full water bottom you may have to get a small pump or a cup to scoop out some of the water and perform a partial water change. That’s when you remove a portion of the old water and add new, fresh water.
hi! I have an 8 gallon tank set up and I was wondering how many frogs I cant put in. I am planning on having Whites Tree frogs. Thanks
A 15 gallon vertical-style terrarium would suffice for one (maybe two) white’s tree frogs.
I have a 90 gallon vivarium I’m building that will be in my basement. My basement is about 70 degrees and I’m using LED lights. What’s the best way to warm my vivarium for red-eyed tree frogs? I’d prefer a heating mat or heating cables. Any suggestions?
I’ve had bad experience with heating mats. They don’t seem to warm the enclosure enough to keep the right temperature. A heat lamp/bulb is what I recommend. And definitely get a thermometer/hygrometer to check the temperate and humidity.
This is super helpful! I’m going to make my terrarium soon 🙂
Good luck! Have fun
I have just introduced two Australian green tree frogs to their new terrarium. At first they were very active, exploring around. Now they have buried themselves in the leaf litter. I tried to get them to come out to eat but they don’t seem to want to. Temp is gradient of 23-26°C with RH of 65%. I am thinking maybe they are just a bit timid because new environment, but also worried something is not quite right.
Do you have a quality hygrometer and where did you place it? My initial thoughts are the humidity isn’t high enough and they’re in the substrate trying to get some humidity.
Hello how do you do the drainage layer I wanted to do it anyways but I’m a little confused any example pictures would be great 👉👈
Hey there! The bottom layer is hydro balls or masala filter media, the next layer is a mesh screen (to keep the substrate from getting into the bottom layer), and the top layer is the substrate – your soil, cocohusk fiber, ABG, or whatever you’re using.
Here is an example picture (photo credit: Exo Terra)
Total beginners looking to set up a frog habitat. Any advice on which frogs would be suitable? We have a large tank (3 foot by 2 by 2)
You could get some Dumpy Tree Frogs (White’s Tree Frogs). They’re probably one of the easiest tree frogs for beginners.
most informative site so far
Thnx – I’m glad you found this site helpful.