The Wonderful World of True Frogs: Everything You Need to Know

True Frogs
True Frogs

True frogs, also known as the Ranidae family, are a vast and fascinating group of amphibians that have captivated people for centuries. These charismatic creatures boast remarkable diversity in appearance, behavior, and habitat preferences. With over 600 known species, true frogs can be found on every continent except Antarctica, gracing everything from steaming rainforests to chilly mountain streams. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve deep into the world of true frogs, exploring their unique characteristics, intriguing lifestyles, and the secrets to providing them with a happy and healthy home as a pet.

Key Takeaways

  • True frogs (Ranidae family) are diverse amphibians found globally (except Antarctica) in various habitats.
  • They undergo metamorphosis, starting as aquatic tadpoles and transforming into hopping adults.
  • True frogs are vocal, using calls for mating, defending territory, and more.
  • As pets, they require a proper terrarium setup with hiding spots, clean water, and a balanced diet.

Unveiling the True Frog Family

What are True Frogs? 

True frogs belong to the Ranidae family, a scientific classification grouping organisms with shared characteristics. These frogs are typically distinguished by their smooth, moist skin, strong hind legs perfect for jumping, and extensively webbed feet ideal for swimming.

Where in the World Do True Frogs Live? 

True frogs boast an impressive global distribution, inhabiting a wide range of ecosystems across the world. They can be found in freshwater ponds, marshes, streams, and even some wet forests. Interestingly, a single species, the Australian wood frog (Hylarana daemeli), has even made its way to the far north of Australia!

A Glimpse into True Frog Diversity

true frogs facts
true frogs facts

Subfamilies and Common True Frog Species:

The Ranidae family is further divided into subfamilies, each containing unique frog groups. Some of the most well-known true frog subfamilies include Raninae (true frogs), Dicroglossidae (narrow-mouthed frogs), and Ptychadeninae (foam-nesting frogs). Within these subfamilies, you’ll find popular pet species like the American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus), the green frog (Lithobates clamitans), and the northern leopard frog (Lithobates pipiens).

The Intriguing Life of a True Frog

Lifecycle of a True Frog

True frogs, like most amphibians, undergo a fascinating metamorphosis during their development. They begin their lives as tadpoles, aquatic creatures with gills and tails that breathe underwater. As tadpoles mature, they develop lungs and legs, eventually transforming into the air-breathing, hopping adults we recognize as frogs.

True Frog Behavior

True frogs are a diverse bunch when it comes to behavior. They use a variety of vocalizations to communicate, from the familiar croaking of bullfrogs to the trilling calls of tree frogs. These vocalizations can serve various purposes, such as attracting mates, defending territories, and warning off predators. True frogs are primarily carnivorous, using their sticky tongues to snatch insects, worms, and other small invertebrates.

Creating a Home for Your True Frog

Now that you’ve learned about the wonders of true frogs, you might be considering welcoming one of these amazing creatures into your home as a pet. But before you do, it’s crucial to understand their needs and provide them with a suitable habitat.

Building the Perfect Terrarium

The size of your terrarium will depend on the specific true frog species you choose. As a general rule, bigger is always better! Provide a substrate that mimics the frog’s natural habitat, such as a mixture of reptile bark and coconut fiber for burrowing species or a combination of gravel and aquatic plants for water-loving frogs. Remember, maintaining proper humidity levels is vital for true frogs, so ensure your terrarium has good ventilation and mist it regularly.

All About True Frog Hiding Spots

true frogs have a body designed for
true frogs have a body designed for

Why Hiding Spots are Essential for True Frogs

Hiding spots are not just decorations in a true frog terrarium; they’re a vital part of your frog’s well-being. These hidden areas provide a sense of security for your frog, allowing them to reduce stress and feel safe during the day. Hiding spots are also crucial for thermoregulation, enabling frogs to regulate their body temperature by moving in and out of sunlight or cooler areas.

Types of True Frog Hiding Spots

There are many ways to create effective hiding spots for your true frog. You can use commercially available hides, such as ceramic caves or cork bark retreats. Alternatively, get creative and utilize natural materials like large rocks, leafy plants, or even hollow coconut shells. Remember, the hiding spots should be plentiful and cater to the specific needs of your frog species. For example, arboreal frogs will appreciate elevated hides with branches to climb on, while burrowing frogs might prefer hides with substrate underneath to tunnel into.

Designing Effective Hiding Spots

The size and accessibility of the hiding spot are crucial. Ensure your frog can comfortably enter and exit the hide without getting stuck. For some species, providing multiple hiding spots with varying humidity levels can be beneficial. You can achieve this by placing some hides on the damp substrate and others in drier areas of the terrarium.

Placement Considerations

When positioning hides within the terrarium, consider your frog’s natural behaviors. For instance, if you have a diurnal species, provide some hides with shade for daytime retreat. Additionally, locate some hides near water features or basking areas, depending on your frog’s preferred microclimate.

Caring for Your True Frog

true frogs predators
true frogs predators

Feeding Your True Frog

The proper diet for your true frog depends on the species. Most true frog species are insectivores, meaning they eat insects. Captive frogs can be fed a variety of feeder insects like crickets, mealworms, and dubia roaches. Ensure the feeder insects are gut-loaded with nutritious foods before offering them to your frog.

Maintaining Terrarium Hygiene

Regular terrarium cleaning is essential for your frog’s health. Spot clean any waste products daily and remove uneaten food to prevent mold growth. Depending on the terrarium size and substrate type, a full substrate change might be necessary every few months.

Fresh, Clean Water

Clean, chlorine-free water is vital for true frogs, especially for aquatic and semi-aquatic species. Provide a shallow water dish that your frog can easily climb in and out of. Change the water regularly to prevent the build-up of bacteria and waste products.

Addressing Common True Frog Health Concerns

true frogs interesting facts
true frogs interesting facts

Signs of a Stressed or Unhealthy True Frog

If your true frog is exhibiting unusual behaviors like excessive hiding, loss of appetite, or difficulty shedding its skin, these could be signs of stress or illness. It’s crucial to consult a veterinarian experienced in exotic pets for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Common True Frog Illnesses and Prevention Practices

True frogs can be susceptible to various illnesses like bacterial infections, parasitic infestations, and nutritional deficiencies. Maintaining a clean terrarium, providing a balanced diet, and having regular veterinary check ups can help prevent these health issues.

Fun Facts About True Frogs!

  • True frogs have a remarkable diversity in body size. The tiny cricket frog (Phyllomedusa sauvagii) measures a mere 0.4 inches long, while the Goliath frog (Conraua goliath) can reach a whopping 12.6 inches!
  • Some true frog species, like the African bullfrog (Pyxicephalus adspersus), can even live in brackish water, a mixture of freshwater and saltwater.
  • True frogs play a crucial role in their ecosystems by controlling insect populations. In turn, they serve as a vital food source for various predators like birds, snakes, and mammals.


True frogs are fascinating creatures with a rich diversity in appearance, behavior, and ecological importance. Understanding their specific needs, from providing suitable hiding spots to maintaining a clean and healthy environment, is essential for responsible pet ownership. By following the proper care guidelines, you can ensure your true frog thrives in its captive habitat.

Call to Action:

Now that you’ve learned everything you need to know about true frogs, why not share your knowledge? If you’re a proud owner of a true frog, post pictures of your terrarium setup in the comments below and share some fun facts about your amphibian friend!


What are the different types of true frogs?

Briefly discuss the subfamilies mentioned in your blog post and give an example of a popular pet species from each.

Do true frogs all live in water?

Explain that some are aquatic, some semi-aquatic, and some terrestrial, providing examples of each.

What do true frogs eat?

Briefly explain their insectivorous diet and mention the importance of gut-loading feeder insects.

How big do true frogs get?

Discuss the amazing size variation, mentioning the tiny cricket frog and the gigantic Goliath frog.

Can true frogs live in saltwater?

Briefly explain that some true frog species, like the African bullfrog, can tolerate brackish water.

How long do true frogs live?

Briefly mention the varying lifespans of true frogs, depending on the species.

What sounds do true frogs make?

Explain that they use vocalizations for communication and give examples of different calls.

Do true frogs need heat lamps?

Briefly explain that some species may benefit from basking areas with heat lamps, but proper UVB lighting is crucial.

How often should I clean my true frog terrarium?

We recommend spot cleaning daily and full substrate changes every few months.

What are signs of a sick true frog?

List some behavioral signs like lethargy or loss of appetite and emphasize consulting a vet