All About Leopard Frogs as Pets

Two leopard frogs
Leopard frogs outside in dirt. Getty Images/ Eye Em/ Julia Harris

Named for their dark spots on their back (except for the Burnsi leopard frogs which have no spots), leopard frogs are small, semi-aquatic pet frogs

Names: Rana pipiens (Northern Leopard frog), Rana utricularia (Southern Leopard frog), Rana blairi (Plains Leopard frog), Meadow frog
Size: approximately 3 -5 inches
Life span: approximately 5-8 years, perhaps longer

Housing Leopard Frogs

A ten gallon tank is sufficient for a single leopard frog (but if you are keeping more frogs the tank size must increase, keeping in mind that floor space is more important than height).

Leopard frogs are semi-aquatic and need a land area as well as a large enough body of water that they can submerge their bodies. A half land/half water tank is a good choice for leopard frogs and these can be set up a number of ways. It is easiest in the long term to separate the land and water areas with a piece of plastic or Plexiglas placed across the aquarium and then sealed with aquarium grade silicone sealant. This allows the use of soil (or a combination of soil and peat moss, covered with reptile bark and sphagnum moss) on the terrestrial side to allow the frogs to burrow. A dense piece of wood (e.g. driftwood) can be placed partly in the water and partly on land to provide an easy transition from water to land (this also provides a nice basking spot). Alternately, gravel can be sloped in the aquatic side to provide a ramp out of the water.

The depth of the soil on the terrestrial side should be at least 2-3 inches to allow burrowing.

A layer of fravel can be used on the aquatic side. It is extremely important to use smooth gravel (to prevent skin abrasions and injuries) and ideally the gravel should be large enough not to be swallowed by the small frogs. Plants and driftwood can be used for climbing, hiding spots, and basking.

Leopard Frog Water

The water used in a leopard frog tank must be dechlorinated.

Use a product from the pet store designed to remove chlorine (and chloramine, if your water supply is treated with it) to be safe. Filtration is not a necessity, but doing a 50% water change on a regular basis (at least twice weekly, perhaps more) is necessary. Some experts believe that the constant water vibrations from the filter is a sensory overload to frogs and should be avoided.

Heat and Lighting for Leopard Frogs

The tank can be kept at room temperature between 68-75 degrees Fahrenheit (20-24 degrees Celsius), although a temperature drop at night is a good idea (down to about 60 degrees Fahrenheit or about 16 degrees Celsius). Leopard frogs are from all over the United States and Canada so they are fairly hardy amphibians.

UVA/UVB light is recommended to create a day/night cycle as well as provide the important invisible rays to allow your frog to metabolize calcium. Some people feel this light is not necessary but is not harmful and is more likely to be beneficial to your frog. Just make sure the frog can't jump onto the lamp (make sure your mesh screen lid is secure). Avoid making the enclosure too bright however as the frogs may just hide if the tank is very brightly lit.

Feeding Leopard Frogs

Leopard frogs should be fed a variety of invertebrates such as crickets, wax worms, fly larvae, and earthworms.

A meal of 3-4 crickets daily is a good starting point, although some experts recommend feeding mature frogs only every other day. Variety seems to be key with frogs. -Crickets can make up the bulk of the diet but should be supplemented by a variety of other insects and worms. Prey items should be gut loaded (feed nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, dog food, fish food, or cricket gut loading formula) before they are given to the frog. Once weekly dust the crickets with a reptile calcium powder.

Keep an eye on the body shape of your frog. Remember that overfeeding is likely more of a problem than underfeeding so make sure the frog is not getting too round and cut back on feeding if necessary.

Hibernating Leopard Frogs

Leopard frogs are naturally programmed to hibernate so they will slow down and may stop eating in the winter months (usually for about 3 months).

If possible, the tank can be cooled to 37-39 degrees Fahrenheit (3-4 degress Celsius) for three months to mimic the natural environment of the frogs but you should have your exotics vet check a fecal sample prior to allowing hibernation to make sure they do not have a large parasite burden.

 

Edited by Adrienne Kruzer, RVT