How to care for your pet amphibian: expert tips for care and feeding

pet amphibian

Want to give your pet amphibian the best life? Proper care for your pet will keep them happy and healthy for a long time. Read more to find out how to provide for them.

We all want our pets in a safe and nurturing environment. To ensure their safety, it is important to be well-informed about your non-human companion. Each pet is different, and this is even more so if it is a different species. Many people are familiar with common pets like dogs, cats, bunnies, and hamsters.

How to care for your pet amphibian

However, amphibians are still relatively uncommon pets and need special attention. If you are one such owner, you should know all about your new pet to make them comfortable in their new habitat.

Research, Research, Research!

The ability to take care of your pet amphibian is directly proportional to how much you know about them. An informed owner is an indication of a loved pet amphibian. Committing to a pet is a huge responsibility. Different pets have different food, lighting, heating requirements, which directly affects their lifespan. As an owner, you need to realize what you are getting into and thoroughly research the pet you want before adopting them.

Ask your pet store or pet handler for info about your new family member. You can also look up helpful blogs and sites online. Herpetological societies and exotic veterinarians are other great sources of information.

Ideally, given the complexity of the caring process for these animals, pet amphibians are not ideal starter pets. Adults or older children should take such responsibility.

Types of Pet Amphibian

There are many petamphibians ranging from frogs to toads and salamanders; however, not all of them are suited to be pets. Some salamanders grow up to a foot long or live up to 25 years. Tadpoles need to be kept in aquariums, but once they grow into frogs, they may need to have a mix of water and foliage, depending on the species. You need to consider such factors when selecting your pet amphibian.

Pet Amphibian Housing and Environment

Each type of pet amphibian has different needs for their environment; this can vary further depending on the species as well. For example, water frogs need more water to swim in, whereas land frogs need less water.

The common factor regarding all enclosures is to ensure it closely resembles your pet’s natural habitat. Add mosses, plants, rocks, and driftwoods, making sure to select rocks that your pet won’t swallow. Also, given the curious nature of escape-artist pets, keep the enclosure escape-proof. Locking safety clips can provide an extra layer of precaution.

Argentine horned frogs need a substrate of wet moss for their terrarium. On the other hand, tree frogs thrive in plentiful moist vegetation for hiding spots in a vivarium. Some newts and salamanders require an aquatic environment, but their terrestrial brethren prefer dry land. Ask your pet store for more information to find the right material for the aquarium or look up online.


The average pet amphibian can easily thrive at a temperature of 16 to 21 degrees Celsius at 75 to 80% humidity. Nonetheless, you should still research the requirements for the specific amphibian you plan to adopt.

For example, tropical amphibians require a heat pump to heat a vivarium with the temperature and humidity closely monitored.


The best lighting for your cold-blooded companions are those that can replicate natural light. UVB/UVA bulbs are the most efficient means to achieve that because it promotes natural behaviors, including eating, breeding, and boosting the immune system.

The importance of UVB can be emphasized by the myriad of side effects from the lack of it. UVB deficiency can cause paralysis, deformity, or even premature death.

You should also replace your UVB bulbs yearly even if they are working because each use depletes the UVB, and the light levels are insufficient to keep them healthy. Time your bulbs to follow the natural day/night cycle with twelve hours during warm weather and eight hours in winter months.

Feeding a Pet Amphibian

Pet amphibian diets vary depending on the species, but most eat live invertebrates like mealworms, roaches, and crickets.

The frequency of feeding depends on their activity levels. A large, less active species can be fed once a week, whereas a small active one should be fed once daily.

For example, Argentine horned frogs are obligate carnivores with an ideal diet of calcium dusted crickets. Avoid insects exposed to insecticide or other chemicals. Some even eat larger prey like mice and goldfish. You should also incorporate powdered vitamins in their diet with their meal. You can get powdered vitamins from pet shops.

Cleaning the Pet Amphibian Habitat

Cleaning your pet amphibian’s habitat is one of the most important tasks you need to handle. Amphibians have sensitive and absorbent skin, so any exposure to toxic chemicals will make your pet sick.

If you have a tadpole or aquatic amphibian requiring an aquarium, pay special attention to the water. Any water used must be dechlorinated, lime-free, and ammonia-free. You can purchase dechlorinating products at your pet shop or use bottled water instead.

Handling a Pet Amphibian

Make it a habit to always wash your hands before handling your pet amphibian. You should also make sure that your hands haven’t been in any contact with any chemicals or dyes. Keep your hands wet before touching your amphibious pet to prevent sticking.

Amphibian skin is breathable, so these residues can be potentially toxic to their sensitive skin.

Don’t hold your pet amphibian too high above the ground as they can jump from your hands and get hurt, and only handle them if necessary. Excessive handling is distressful for the animal, so it should be avoided.

You can damage their skin by exposing them to bacterial infection, and you can also get infected by salmonella from the amphibian. Refrain from squeezing your frog or touching the frog if you are a smoker. Also remember to wash your hands after handling.

Terrarium Basics

Don’t risk your pet amphibian being under direct sunlight; keep the enclosure in a cool place. Even though sunlight has UVA/UVB light rays, direct exposure can overheat the enclosure, and the animals will lose moisture.

Health Problems To Look Out For in a Pet Amphibian

Your cold-blooded friend with a warm heart is also unfortunately susceptible to many diseases. And you need to regularly monitor to detect any problems early on.

Contact a pet amphibian specialist vet to learn about their natural behaviour like molting and hibernation. Some problems your pet might encounter are:

  • cloacal prolapse (tissue protruding from the anal area)
  • heat stress (pacing followed by lethargy)
  • septicemia (red patches over abdomen and lower legs)
  • egg retention (swollen abdomen)

Thankfully, these are less common. It is good to note that most problems can be avoided by maintaining a clean environment for your pet.

Together or Separate?

In most cases, you can keep the same species in the same enclosure. However, it is best to keep different species, especially frogs, in separate enclosures. There are also records of frogs eating other, smaller frogs including siblings.


Now that you are well-equipped with the basics to care for your cold-blooded buddy, handle them with utmost care and love. Your amphibian friend will be your confidant like no-other, so do your best to let them live to the fullest and enjoy your time with them. A happy pet amphibian signifies a happy house and plenty of opportunities for adorable photos.