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The Red-Eyed Treefrog – Notes on Captive Care and Natural History

Red-eye Tree Frog in camo modeThis article is one of a series in which I plan to provide a brief introduction to both popular and rarely-kept amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates.  I’ll cover such topics as unique habits in the wild, common mistakes or concerns in captive care, pet pros and cons, little-known husbandry tips and so forth.  Detailed care articles will follow…until then, I would enjoy receiving your questions and comments.  Today we’ll take a look at the Red-Eyed Treefrog, Agalychnis callidryas.

Night Shows Only!

Ranging from southern Mexico to Panama, this striking beauty (its scientific name translates as “Beautiful Tree Nymph”) has become something of a “rain forest darling”, appearing on more calendars, book covers and travel brochures than any other amphibian.  Frog keepers, enamored of its huge, brilliant red eyes and lime-green skin, have taken to it as well. 

Many, however, are disappointed when they find that these eyes are seen only after dark.  By day, Red-Eyed Treefrogs remain in the classic treefrog water-conserving stance, with limbs drawn in and eyes tightly closed (please see photo).  A night viewing bulb will most definitely enrich your frog-keeping experience.

Diet: A “Fly Specialist”

Another important consideration in keeping these little fellows is diet – they are adapted to prey on a wide variety of arboreal and flying insects, and will not fare well on crickets alone.  The frogs’ enthusiastic reaction to moths, flies, midges and similar flying insects will leave no doubt as to their dietary (and “quality of life”!) value.  The ZooMed Bug Napper Insect Trap is an invaluable aid in collecting flying insects.

Red-eye Tree FrogOther insects that Red-Eyes under my care have accepted include “non-hairy” caterpillars, snowy tree crickets, tiny orange-spotted roaches, potato and other small beetles, field crickets and termites.  Houseflies are, in my opinion, nearly indispensible in the husbandry of these and other small treefrogs (please see article below).

As regards crickets, use only ¼ to ½ inch individuals, and be sure to feed them a nutritious diet.  During periods when crickets comprise the bulk of the diet, powder most meals with supplements, alternating among Reptivite with D3ReptiCalcium and ReptoCal.  I do not use supplements when feeding wild-caught invertebrates.

Further Reading

Please see my article on Keeping Houseflies for more info on this important food item.

Video showing how active these frogs are under night-viewing (red) light.



  1. avatar

    This species has some of the coolest looking eggs they are clear and bright green.

    Ari Flagle

    • avatar

      Hello Ari,
      I agree; I’m planning to take photos of the next batch I come across,

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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