White’s Tree Frog Caresheet and bioactive maintenance
White’s Tree Frog (Ranoidea caerulea)
White’s tree frogs (Ranoidea caerulea) are medium-sized, nocturnal, arboreal amphibians from northern/eastern Australia and southern New Guinea. These frogs prefer tropical forest habitats, but they are also uniquely able to adapt to seasonally dry habitats as well. Instead of having to live near water like most frogs, White’s tree frogs live in trees with access to water via crevices in the trunk or water collected on the leaves.
White’s tree frogs grow 3-5” long on average, and have smooth skin, horizontal pupils, large round toe pads, and a distinctive ridge of flesh behind each eye. Coloring varies, but is generally gray-green or blue-green with a pale belly and pale gold eyes.
With good care, a pet White’s tree frog (also known as a dumpy tree frog or Australian green tree frog) can live up to 20 years. Due to their above-average hardiness, White’s tree frogs can make a good choice for first-time frog owners.
What You Need for a Bioactive White’s Tree Frog Enclosure
- Front-opening 18” x 18” x 24” glass terrarium
- 25w Zoo Med Basking Spot Lamp
- Exo Terra Deep Dome Fixture, Small
- Plug-in lamp dimmer
- Arcadia ShadeDweller UVB ProT5 Kit
- Bio Dude Solar Grow T5 HO Single Bulb Light Strip, 12"
- Zilla 24/7 Digital Timer Power Center
- Bio Dude Digital Thermometer / Hygrometer, x2
- Exo Terra 2qt Mister
- Terra Fauna Bioactive Kit, 18 x 18 x 18/24
- White's Tree Frog Clean Up Crew Pack
- Whites Tree Frog Starter Plant Pack
- Pangea Mini Gecko Feeder Magnetic Ledge
- Small gecko feeding cups
- Repashy Calcium Plus LoD
The minimum enclosure size we recommend for housing a single White’s tree frog is 18”L x 18”W x 24”H. However, when it comes to choosing a terrarium for exotic pets, keep in mind that larger is always better! Although White’s tree frogs may not seem particularly active, providing more space gives you more room to furnish it with branches, vines, and plants for your frog to use.
White’s tree frogs can be housed alone or in a group. However, keep in mind that housing multiple frogs requires a larger enclosure, and if you choose to keep one frog by itself, it will be just fine.
Being a nocturnal (night-active) species, White’s tree frogs are capable of surviving UVB lighting as long as they get enough dietary vitamin D3, but relying on supplements alone is not optimal. Aside from enabling vitamin D3 synthesis, access to UVB lighting offers benefits such as preventing illness, improving nervous and digestive function, and improving mental health.
In other words, we recommend installing appropriate UVB lighting as part of your frog’s setup. Setting up one Arcadia ShadeDweller UVB ProT5 Kit is likely to work the best for an 18”x18”x24” enclosure. Position the basking branch so the frog’s back will be no closer than 6” below the UVB lamp.
Your UVB bulb must be replaced every 12 months to maintain its output. Resist the temptation to use other brands — when it comes to UVB, brand matters!
Because this is a bioactive setup, you will also need a plant light to encourage healthy plant growth. The extra illumination is also beneficial for further simulating sunlight! We recommend the 12” Bio Dude Solar Grow T5 HO Single Bulb Light Strip for this purpose.
Both lighting and heating should be on for 12 hours/day.
Like other amphibians, White’s tree frogs are ectotherms, and that means that the temperature of their environment determines their body temperature. In your enclosure, it’s best to provide a gradient of temperatures within a certain range that is appropriate for White’s tree frogs. Too hot will cause them to suffer from heat stress (and potentially death!). Too cold will cause them to lose their appetite and energy, and may cause them to get sick.
White’s tree frog temperature gradient:
- Basking area temperature: 82-84°F
- General air temperature: 74-76°F
- Nighttime temperature: 65-72°F
To create a basking area for your White’s tree frog, you will need a low-wattage white heat bulb like the 25w Zoo Med Basking Spot Lamp and a fixture like small Exo Terra Deep Dome Fixture. If the basking area gets too warm, you can plug the lamp into a lamp dimmer like the Lutron Credenza and reduce the heat that way. If the basking area is too cool, you will need a higher-wattage bulb.
The most accurate way to keep track of your terrarium’s temperatures is to a digital probe thermometer like the Bio Dude Digital Thermometer / Hygrometer. Place one probe on the basking spot to gauge basking temperature — you can do this by zip-tying the probe to the basking branch directly under the lamp. You should also place another probe in a shaded area in the middle of the enclosure to track general air temperature.
White’s tree frogs need a moderate humidity environment. To be specific, they need an average of 50% humidity, with a spike up to 70% or so every night. Keep track of your humidity levels with the same devices and placements mentioned in the previous section.
To raise humidity in your frog’s enclosure and provide a source of drinking water, use an Exo Terra 2qt Mister to wet things down every evening, preferably when it’s dark. If you need help increasing humidity, you can run a fogger/cool mist humidifier at night, regulated by a humidistat.
A thick layer of bioactive-compatible substrate is essential to creating a successful bioactive White’s tree frog enclosure.
First, pour approximately 2” of clay balls or Bio Dude HydroGrow drainage material on the bottom of the enclosure. Then, place a layer of tight mesh on top to help prevent soil from getting into the drainage layer.
Next you will need a soil-like mix that mimics the conditions of a tropical rainforest and will nourish your plants. If you want to make your own, you will need a mixture of 50% organic topsoil, 25% peat moss or coconut fiber, and 25% play sand. Mix that with leaf litter, sphagnum moss, and an appropriate amount of Bio Shot to inoculate your soil with beneficial microfauna. This layer of soil should be as deep as possible.
Alternatively, you can let The Bio Dude do the work for you with The Bio Dude’s Terra Fauna 18 x 18 x 18/36 bioactive substrate kit.
To make the substrate functional, make sure to add tropical CUC organisms like powder blue/orange isopods, dwarf isopods, and arid springtails. You can also add other species like dubia roaches, earthworms, and millipedes!
For best results, let your plants and CUC get established for at least one month before introducing your frog to the setup. This is also a good time to make sure you have the right temperatures and humidity.
Decorating the Enclosure
Enclosure décor is more than just making your setup look good. It’s also an important part of providing environmental enrichment to your frog, which enhances your pet’s quality of life by providing opportunities to express natural behaviors. Considering that White’s tree frogs are arboreal, two of their most important natural behaviors are climbing and hiding, which means that you will need lots of branches, vines, and foliage to fulfill that need.
Live plants in particular are critical to helping your mini-ecosystem function properly!
Feeding Your White’s Tree Frog
White’s tree frogs are insectivores, which means that they eat primarily insects. Here is a quick feeding schedule you can reference:
- Juveniles — daily
- Adults — 2-3x/week
For both age groups, the frog should be offered roughly as many insects as it is capable of eating within a 15-minute period. If it’s starting to look overweight, reduce the number of insects per meal. Each insect should be at least slightly smaller than your frog’s head. You can let the insects loose inside the enclosure for your frog to chase down, or you can offer them in a wall-mounted feeding dish.
The key to providing a healthy, balanced diet for any exotic animal is VARIETY! Here’s a quick list of insects that are good to feed to your White’s tree frog:
- black soldier fly larvae and flies
- dubia roaches
- discoid roaches
Although feeder insects should be gutloaded for 24-48 hours prior to feeding, they will also need to be “dusted” with an appropriate supplement powder just before. There are many options, but the Arcadia supplement system and Repashy Calcium Plus LoD are both solid calcium supplements with a small amount of vitamin D3 to keep your frog’s reserves topped off. For best results, use as directed by the label.
Care information courtesy of ReptiFiles.
- Josh Halter