Keeping and Breeding Red-eyed Treefrogs

Keeping and Breeding Red-eyed Treefrogs

Red-eyed treefrogs are fairly easy to house – lucky you! These animals do not get exceptionally large but do require a bit of room as adults.

Think of the tropical rain forest. A riot of green plants, consisting of unique shapes, colors, and textures, growing so dense it’s impossible to see a few feet ahead. Trees seemingly as tall as the sky, trunks serving as pillars holding up the heavens. Rare animals, found nowhere else on earth, flourishing in the forest primeval. Suddenly, a frog emerges from the foliage. What frog are you picturing? Chances are it’s a red-eyed treefrog (Agalychnis callidryas), the embodiment of the tropics in amphibious form. This red-eyed, blue-sided, and orange-gloved anuran is ubiquitous to the neotropics.

What better way to commune with this tropical wilderness in your own abode than to keep a piece of it at home? Fortunately, red-eyed treefrogs are regularly available and more easily kept in captivity now than ever before. Interested in learning what it takes to keep this charismatic microfauna at home? Well, you’ve chosen wisely.

Red-eyed Treefrog Natural History

As you probably already know, red-eyed treefrogs inhabit the neotropics – the species can readily be found from southern Mexico, through Central America, and down into South America, all the way to Colombia. Throughout its range different populations exhibit unique coloration, patterns, and maximum sizes, hinting that we may see this widespread species broken down into multiple taxa in the future.

In my opinion, the red-eyed treefrog has what is probably the most poetic scientific name in all of amphibiandom, or at least among species most people are familiar with. Agalychnis callidryas comes to us from a combination of Latin and Greek, and roughly translates into “Bright Eyed Beautiful Tree Nymph,” an apt description indeed for this remarkably colorful hylid. They belong to the family Phyllomedusidae, also known as the leaf frogs, hinting at their preferred habitat and specialization. This makes their second most common name, the red-eyed leaf frog, make even more sense.

Red-eyed treefrogs were first described in 1885 and have since undergone numerous taxonomic revisions. One thing has remained constant, however – these remarkable amphibians have consistently stuck in the imagination of those dreaming of the equatorial Edens of the Americas. Fortunately for you, bringing this bright-eyed beautiful tree nymph home is easier than ever.

Finding a Red-Eyed Treefrog

Red-eyed treefrogs are fairly common in the amphibian hobby. Healthy red-eyed treefrogs, however, are not as common, but on the rise.
Many red-eyes in the trade are wild caught – they’ve been through multiple hands on their journey from the jungle to your living room, and there are plenty of bumps on their trip that can set you up for failure. When possible, please make sure you purchase captive-bred frogs. When that’s not possible, please seriously consider another herp pet.

Wild-caught frogs suffer from numerous issues that make success difficult. These animals are not used to a life in captivity – they are used to wide open spaces, not a glass barrier that limits movement. During their trip to the United States, these animals are often crowded in unsanitary conditions. Those that survive the trip often come with associated bacterial or fungal infections that require veterinary treatment. It’s common for larger treefrogs to suffer physical injuries from the packing and shipping process, such as rubbed noses, that may require treatment to prevent infection. Many wild caught animals don’t survive the trip, and their collection may have negative impacts on already strained wild populations.


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