Sunday, December 31, 2006

Gray Tree Frogs...

...are kind of neat little slimy critters. They have some neat shades of gray in a blotched pattern on their backs, and the shading depends a lot on their mood or the temperatures. They also have white bellies with really vibrant yellow markings along the belly at the sides and onto bottom inner sides of the back legs.

I have one now, have had it for about 2 1/2 years now. I would not have it at all had it not plopped on the ground, after falling or jumping out of a tree, and landing right in front of my feet. That was at my daughter's college a couple of years back; I had just dropped her off for a new semester, and this guy decided he wanted to come home with me for the ride. I have had him ever since. No name or anything like that, I usually do not name animals that will not come when called like a dog, or at least show some signs of affection like a cat.

I spent about 2 or 3 hours today taking down the vivarium I have kept him in for these couple of years. The plants were not doing as well as they once had, so I figured the soil could use some changing. I bought a couple of new plants; cleaned out the tank, put in fresh soil over a bed of gravel na d some activated carbon, put in the two new plants and two of the old ones, made sure to put back the small earthworms that had been living in the old soil, and there it is.

The plants should grow out somewhat more over time. I have another tank that is just about overgrown with Golden Pothos. This one has the pothos (those little vines on the cork in the center, I just kept a bit of it as it grows fast), and it also has two plants completely new to me. The one on the left has nice roundsih broad leaves on which I am sure the frog will love to cling with its sticky toe pads. The other also has somewhat pointy broad, and more colorful, leaves on which it can climb as it pleases.

The frog looks pretty content in its newly decorated home, if frogs can be content. I think the added color gives the whole setup a nice touch. My wife even liked it, and she does not like any of my reptilian or amphibian pets.

These guys make fairly easy to care for animals, though they are not really conventional pets. Sure you can pick them up and hold em, but I don't usually do that for a couple of reasons. First of all, why bother since the frog gets no enjoyment out of being picked up, not like peting a dog or a cat. Second, when you pick them up, it removes some of the protective slime from their bodies. So, for the most part, I only pick him up when I clean out his tank, or show him off to someone.

These frogs live in trees, far above the ground, here in the northeastern USA (and in some other parts of the USA out to the midwest and from Texas up to Canada). Since they live in the forest, they usually get a fair deal of mositure in their environment. They can hide in crevices in the bark of trees, in the crotches of tree limbs, and so forth where moisture will be held in the event of drier times. In captivity they need to be kept moist with a daily, or every other day, spray with a misting bottle. I also keep a small bowl of water in with mine, this has to be cleaned out often and replaced with fresh water. I use water right from the tap. I am not worried about the water being chlorinated or having flouride in it as many natural sources of water are likewise; and I have never seen any ill effects with frogs that are native to NY State while usuing local tap water. If you keep one though, and are concerned, then let the wayer stand in a bowl overnight and the chlorine will evaporate out of the water.

They feed on insects in the wild, and require the same in captivity, although they will take easier to obtain insects in captivity than ones you would need to catch to feed them their natural diet. Crickets, and waxworms are easily obtained at pet shops and they love both. Earthworms are also eagerly taken, and are readily availble at bait shops. They will come to the tank bottom to feed on them. I also give it mealworms or superworms now and again too, and sometimes a bug from the backyard. I try to feed mine a varied diet.

As for temperatures, I keep mine in the low to mid seventies. Into the mid eighties would be okay during the day, and as low as the high sixties at night is fine. The lighting I use is for the plants not the frogs. A regular day/night cycle of light is fine for the frog; although I tend to keep the lights on a late spring light cycle all year to enhance plant growth. About 14 hours of light. I only use a flourescent light, one that is suitable for plant growth, so it does not increase the temperature in the tank as would an incandescent bulb.

To get one of these frogs, you can try to buy a captive bred one at a Reptile and Amphibian Show, or maybe over a website like; or you can catch one yourself (where allowed by law). At the time I caught mine, it was the open season on frogs in NY State, and I had a hunting and fishing license, so I was covered. Since then it has been well fed, and aparently content to live the life of Reilly at our house.

Putting the tank together anew was a relaxing way to spend the last day of the year for me. Hope you enjoyed your day too. Happy New Year. Who knows what the new year will bring for you - maybe a new found interest in the hobby of keeping reptiles and amphibians.

All the best,
Glenn B


Anonymous said...

Nice job with the tank, but that frog would probably welcome another of its kind as company. Seems like an awful lonely and confined existence. What is the life span in the wild?

Glenn B said...

Frogs do not welcome other frogs in the sense you seem to mean. These tree frogs live solitary lives except during mating season. The frog did not minds its enclosure at all, it was well fed, and did well while we had it as a temporary resident of our home before it was released close to where originally found.

The average lifespan of a gray tree frog in nature is probably less than one year due to predation. Ripe old age would probably be about 4 to 5 years, in the wild for most that survive that long.