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Thread: Keeping Wild Caught Gray Tree Frogs

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    Care Sheet Contributor Larry Wardog's Avatar
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    Jan 2018

    Keeping Wild Caught Gray Tree Frogs

    There are many tree frog care sheets and many are dated by a few years now, so this care sheet for Gray Tree Frogs comes at a good time with many new keepers coming into the hobby. This is not going to be a regular care sheet because I will be giving you tips on how to care for a gray tree frog from your area.


    Gray Tree Frogs are one of the most interesting species of tree frog in the United States, and they cover the most area on the North Eastern coast compared to many of their relatives like the Green Tree Frog and Barking Tree Frog. With them covering so much area there are keepers from many states that will have a chance to collect some of these frogs. With the range of these frogs spanning through many states there are a lot of different climates these frogs come from. One of the most asked questions is something like "how should I keep my Gray Tree Frog?" The answer to this question is more relative to where you obtained your frog from. The best way to keep any native species of frogs or toads is to attempt to keep them as close to the environment you caught them from as possible.

    Legal Action First

    Before I go further into this care sheet I must say that in order to keep these or any native species of amphibian or reptile make sure to check your states requirements for keeping the natives so you are not doing something against the law. I have heard that Tennessee may not allow keeping native species and in Delaware it is illegal to own wild amphibians and reptiles. In PA it is legal to own a native species but they must be from a list of species that the state has listed and approved. Gray Tree Frogs are on this list in PA so if you are from this state then you are in luck. Gray Tree Frogs are abundant in many states but make sure that you check your state to make sure that you are legally allowed to have these animals. This care sheet does not support or condone poaching or illegally possessing wild animals.

    A brief description

    These frogs are a modest size of tree frog around 2-2.5 inches with females being bigger then males. Gray Tree Frogs are split up between two different species: the Gray Tree Frog and the Cope's Gray Tree Frog. In my state of PA I've observed the Cope's Gray Tree Frog to be more shy, more arboreal and slightly bigger. The Gray Tree Frog is more opportunistic as a hunter. These two species have identical care requirements and the only true way to tell the difference between them is the mating call, but some people say this is not full proof either.

    Keeping Wild Caught Gray Tree Frogs in Captivity

    One thing that needs to be taken into consideration is where you found the frog. Since they are found in many different environments there may be a more preferred temperature and humidity condition that differs from frog to frog. There is a rule of thumb on how to keep native tree frogs which is close to the native conditions. Checkout the low temperatures from May to July and try to mimic the average lows. You can warm or cool the temperature just like how it changes month to month in the wild. Humidity is more set with 55-65. Too humid and the frogs could develop respiratory problems. This humidity gradient will promote more activity because the frogs will have an easier time staying hydrated. So in conclusion I would suggest for the gray tree frog a temp around 65-78 and humidity of 55-65.

    Light Source

    UVB is one of the most debatable conversations among keeping amphibians and that includes the Gray Tree Frog. I would encourage the use of UVB because it does help the frogs to synthesize calcium and vitamin D3. This can benefit the frog. As for a nice light to pair with the UVB light I believe a LED light would work very nicely to pair together. Both are bright and would promote plant growth. Larger enclosures will have an easier time with pairing lights because the UVB can be in the form of a bulb and screwed into a clamp lamp and placed in a designated area for the frogs to absorb the vitamins and then move out of the UVB when they choose. Either or both lights would work great for these frogs. Another source would be T5 lights but they create heat. Using the right lights can bring out the nicest color in your frogs and can be crucial for bioactive ecosystem life especially for plants.


    There can be many accessories that you can use to make a nice looking enclosure. Decorations like pumpkins on Halloween look nice, but I am not just talking about decorations. Driftwood which the frogs would love to climb on and even misters and foggers Gray Tree Frogs would love to have either or both misters and foggers. These two accessories could help you to boost the humidity if you are struggling to increase it. I would recommend of the many foggers on the market the Evergreen Pet Supplies Reptile Fogger is very durable and a solid product! It alone would stimulate some active behavior due to the fog putting moisture in the air inside the enclosure. For misting systems there are two brands that stand out. Mistking and Exo Terra. Mistking has 3 tiers of systems and Exo Terra has 2 types. I believe the size and preference you have for a specific device or brand if any would be the best one to go with. Other accessories that are good would be like driftwood or fake plants or even real plants. Hugrometers to tell heat and humidity are essential. Accessories can spice the enclosure up and even be beneficial to the tree frogs.


    Plants can vary from tropical to native. I love working with native plants to make the animals feel more comfortable in their surroundings. I like English Ivy and the Autumn Brilliance Fern for most setups. If you have a bright light like a LED light then Day Lillies will work as long as you check the sizes. Most evergreen plants are safe to use because they don't die off in the winter. Others that are tropical could be a Diff Plant, Peace Lilly, Palms, or even Lucky Bamboo. Live plants make the setup look incredible but require more work. Fake plants can be substituted instead if you do not want to use live plants. Gray Tree Frogs must have some bushy setups so they can hide and feel safe.


    Any medium of soil works. Eco Earth, Plantation Soil and there are others too. Josh's Frogs ABG mix also makes for adequate soil for the enclosure. This isn't a big deal for the tree frogs they do not burrow so they don't need it to be as deep as toads. Stay away from sand and small pebbles so the frogs don't accidentally eat this and get impaction. A paludarium setup of land and water can also be used because these frogs are found in the trees near water in the wild. Make sure the water is shallow so the frogs do not drown.


    This depends on how many frogs you have. Many say that 10 gallons is good for a few frogs. Tree frogs use the whole tank. I believe a 30 gallon or 29 gallon would be sufficient for maybe 6. More and more studies suggest that Gray Tree Frogs specifically can recognize kin as tadpoles and at breeding season by the trill in the call. They appear to be more communal and enjoy company by other gray tree frogs. This makes it easier to have groups without some issues. Just because they are communal doesn't mean they won't compete for food. It's not common but can be possible with more frogs. I think the cut off would be reasonable around 10 because that's a lot of frogs! An Exo Terra 18x18x18 would be good as a minimum and the Exo Terra 36x18x36 which is the biggest would be great as a maximum. Height and width are very important for this species. The terrarium will be much easier to do maintenance and water changes for the frogs. It also looks nice for observation purposes.


    These tree frogs have a top notch defense mechanism. They have a toxin in their legs which can even harm other amphibians. I had mine in with american toads and I hadn't made a water change for a while and the tree frog toxin caused my one toad who soaks in the water that the tree frogs soak in to have a seizure which almost killed her. Many people have success with these frogs living with other animals but I will just say there needs to be serious caution taken so no animals die or get eaten.

    Gray Tree Frogs are aggressive and opportunistic but not stupid like some have the stigma. Gray Tree Frogs in the wild have been known to learn that something is poisonous by experience. According to Herpetologist Frank Indiviglio some frogs have the ability to learn something is dangerous by color or by eating it and or getting stung or sick.

    Captive feeders would be best choices. 1/2 inch crickets either or both Banded Crickets and House Crickets are wonderful. Waxworms, Butterworms, Calci Worms, CAPTIVE HOUSE FLIES, Mealworms and Isopods make great feeders. Make sure to use supplements! They will help your frog to stay healthy and not develop any diseases or health problems. Josh's Frogs has a bundle for tree frogs which would give you instructions on how to use and would give you all the supplements you need in one bundle.


    Gray Tree Frogs are very hardy and are not demanding animals, but I really wanted to make sure that I encouraged you to provide better care then minimum care sheets for enclosures and accessories like many that are on the web. If you provide your frog with better care just like any animal it will thrive and live for a long time.
    The best way to do this is to keep them as close to the environment they came from.
    Last edited by Larry Wardog; 04-11-18 at 08:11.

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