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A General Guide to Pet Amphibians

Updated on February 21, 2011

Amphibians as Pets

This is an overview of amphibians as pets for anyone looking to get a frog, toad, newt or salamander. Amphibians can be fun, rewarding pets pets but they require specialized care. Some only live 7 yrs, others can live 30yrs (I have a southern toad that I've had fro 14 yrs). Before you buy your animal research, research, research! I also recommend that you buy your new pet amphibian at your next local reptile expo since they have healthier animals than pet shops.

Species for Beginners

  • firebelly toad (easy to find, cheap, active during the day, always popular with kids)
  • green tree frog 
  • southern toad
  • firebelly newt
  • eastern newt (this and the firebelly newt are fun to watch)
  • fire salamander (become quite tame: mine often ate from my hand)
  • dwarf frog
  • african clawed frog (this and the dwarf frog are just like taking care of fish)
  • White's tree frog (large)

Not for Beginners

  • bull frog (too big, better suited for outdoors or really big tanks)
  • poison dart frogs (the difficulty is feeding these small guys, and the price tag)
  • red eyed tree frogs and kin (too beautiful to risk on first timers)
  • mantellas (just like poison dart frogs)


All amphibians are going to eat invertebrates like insects, and worms. Some of the larger ones like white's tree frogs, pacman frogs, and cane toads, and bull frogs will eat baby mice. Regardless  feeding them is not for the squeamish. Prepare to buy live food weekly or grow your own (crickets will be the staple). You can get pellet food for the newts and aquatic frogs.


Use a glass aquarium for your amphibians. There are three life styles they could have: terrestrial (true toads like the southern toad, tree frogs, poison darts, and salamanders etc), semi-aquatic (newts, firebelly toads, bull frog, etc), and aquatic (dwarf frogs, African clawed frogs, mud puppies, etc). If you want to know what life style your animal has don't trust pet shop setups: they are often to dry or too wet! Amphibians don't need special lighting like reptiles, but the tropical ones Will require special heating. 


Kids love to handle their pets. Amphibians, though, are not for handling. Treat them more like fish and just observe. They should only be handled when their tank needs to be cleaned or if you decide to feed them in a separate cage. Only touch them with clean hands (that means no soap or lotion either).

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    • Brandon21 profile image

      Brandon21 5 years ago

      That "too beautiful" line was just a joke, lol. I think all amphibians are beautiful. I agree with you about horned frogs. Not only do they have great personality, but they are long-lived. Also I have the White tree frog on the list.

    • aa lite profile image

      aa lite 5 years ago from London

      Nice list, but I would argue that I saying that the red-eyed tree frog is too pretty to risk on beginners is not very nice. Killing an ugly frog through inexperience is just as sad as killing a beautiful one. Anyway beauty is in the eye of the beholder, some of the really ugly critters (horned frogs?) have the most personality.

      I would also say the white's tree frog, which I think is in your picture is a good beginner amphibian.