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Monkey Tree Frogs - Phyllomedusinae.spp

Monkey tree frogs do not need a tremendous amount of hands on care. They are primarily nocturnal. They do not need a humid habitat - but they should have a shallow bowl to soak in. They can be kept in limited space. They do feed on live food – primarily crickets and other small insects. They will need special care such as vitamin supplements and special lighting. It is best not to play with them as you would guinea pigs and other small animals. They do have special needs in their habitat and care. If you want a monkey tree frog, you must be prepared to provide what your pet needs.


Average Size: 1.5 to 5 inches long depending on species

Life Span: Up to 8 + years

Diet: Provide a variety of live insects, including crickets and mealworms. Dust the insects daily with a pure calcium supplement and once or twice weekly with a vitamin/mineral supplement. Clean, fresh, filtered, chlorine-free water, changed daily. If you are using tap water, let it sit for a day before using it for your pet – this essentially eliminates any chlorine that will be present.

Feeding - Feed 2 to 3 times a week at night; only offer as many insects as the frog will eat overnight.

Size - A glass habitat, taller than it is wide, with a tight-fitting screen lid – they will attempt escapes!

Habitat - Should contain large driftwood branches and artificial, non-edible plants placed directly below basking lamp; it should never be in direct sunlight or in a drafty area; Live plants that do well in this environment include: Pothos, sansiveria and some ficus. The most important requirement for keeping waxy monkey tree frogs is a low relative humidity. Contrary to popular conceptions about frogs, waxy monkey tree frogs are happiest in a hot, dry environment. Maintaining adequate ventilation is another way to produce low humidity. When choosing an enclosure, look for one with a large screen area for as much ventilation as possible. Never spray or mist waxy monkey tree frogs, as too much moisture can be detrimental and can lead to illness.

Temperature - Should be about 90 - 95 degrees F. under the basking lamp to provide temperature gradient required to maintain health and be able to digest food. Do not heat entire enclosure - make sure to have different temperature zones inside the habitat. This frog is designed for low humidity but does require a shallow water soaking bowl always available at end of tank opposite from the basking lamp.

Substrate - Mulch-type commercial material; unbleached paper towels, soil, dampened sphagnum moss, and bark; avoid gravel and artificial turf (too harsh for skin) Supply a fresh, clean, dependable water source, and keep their environment very clean

Normal Behavior and Interaction Monkey tree frogs are active at night and rest during the day; love to climb; have an appealing personality; will perch on branches during day. Monkey frogs move slowly, sit quietly. Handling is not recommended due to stress induced which can make them too frightened to eat and possible damage to their delicate skin. Females are usually larger than males; in a mixed group, males call loudly during mating season;

They are called ‘monkey’ tree frogs due to their apparent preference for very deliberate walking as opposed to the characteristic hopping or jumping displayed by most frogs. Waxy monkey tree frogs are unusual in that they excrete a waxy substance (lipids) from their skin which they then rub on their body to prevent water loss. Once the frogs have covered themselves in this “wax” they reduce their evaporative water loss to a percentage comparable to that of desert-adapted lizards.
Recommended Supplies:

  • 10- to 20-gallon glass habitat
  • Tight-fitting screen lid
  • Foliage, artificial plants
  • Book about frogs
  • Commercial mulch
  • Water bowl, shallow, but large enough to soak in
  • Calcium supplement
  • Multi-vitamin supplement
  • Live crickets/mealworms
  • Humidity gauge
  • Water conditioner
  • Basking lamp
Habitat Maintenance - Change the water bowl daily, using clean, filtered, chlorine-free water. Use an appropriate sized, small-mesh, soft net to move or block the frog while doing habitat maintenance; avoid handling; if you handle them be sure to wear latex gloves; residue or oil on your skin can harm amphibians. Wash tank and floor covering weekly in hot water and dry thoroughly; it is convenient to keep two pieces of floor covering so you can rotate them; if using live moss or mulch for floor covering, change weekly. Never use soap, detergents, bleach, or other chemicals to clean tank or furnishings. The habitat and all the furnishings must be kept very clean

Signs of a Healthy Pet:

  • Healthy skin
  • Clear eyes
  • Eats regularly 
  • Clear nose and vent
  • Maintains weight
  • Active and alert
Common Health Issues and Red Flags: 

  • Lethargic
  • Skin lesions
  • Loss of appetite
  • Distressed breathing
  • Weight loss
  • Weak leg movements
If you notice any of these signs, please contact your exotic animal veterinarian.

As with all pets in this category, it is important that you find a veterinarian that practices in EXOTICS – this is critical. The typical small animal practitioner may not have sufficient knowledge in this area.

Page Last Updated: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 21:29 EST
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