Reed Frogs

  • Common Name: Reed Frogs
  • Scientific Name: Afixalus, Heterixalus and Hyperolius sp.
  • Distribution: Mainland Africa and Madagascar
  • Size: About 1 inch (2.5 cm)

Natural History

There are over 150 described species of Reed Frogs and they come in a wide variety of color and patterns. Their small size and easy care make them an excellent addition to tropical vivaria. Heterixalus species are native to Madagascar (these include the popular Starry Night Reed Frog and Blue Reed Frog) while Afrixalus and Hyperolius species stem from the mainland. books

Size and Longevity

Mature typically attain a size of 1 inch (2.5 cm) in length. Females are almost always larger in length and breadth.


Standard all-glass reptile terrariums make ideal enclosures for Reed Frogs, 18 x 18 x 18 inch cages being plenty big enough for several adults. Younger animals may be housed in smaller enclosures, but they grow rapidly, and will require larger quarters quite quickly.

Heating and Lighting

As sub-saharan species, Reed Frogs benefit from a basking spot of 90 degrees. The ambient temperature should range between the low 70’s to low 80’s. Nighttime temperatures can safely drop into the upper-60's, but slightly warmer nocturnal environments are advised for smaller frogs. For heating supplies check out the lower wattage heat bulbs and heating pads. Red or nocturnal bulbs are excellent choices as they can be left on at night and can provide a 24 hour heat source for the frogs. UVB is not necessary for these frogs, although they may benefit from a low output UVB bulb (2.0 is plenty). In addition, 6,000K-10,000K compact fluorescent lights should be used in a living vivarium set up, for viewing as well as for plant care.

Substrate and Furnishings

The substrate used for red-eyed tree frogs should be one that promotes healthy levels of humidity but also one that is easy to clean and resistant to mold and fungus. Coconut husk products such as EcoEarth, CocoSoft chips, compressed coconut bricks, or coconut chips are all an ideal choice. Other acceptable choices include cypress mulch, orchid bark, and sphagnum moss. Red-eyed tree frogs are arboreal and will require a variety of climbing and hiding structures within their habitat. Branchy sticks, cork flats, cork rounds, and both live and artificial plants should be used to create a comfortable and naturalistic environment for these frogs. When choosing plants (live or plastic), opt for those with large, broad leaves, as these are most similar to those used by the frogs in nature for shelter and sleeping. Additionally, any live plants should be of a species that is tolerant of high heat and humidity, and certain lighting considerations may need to be taken if these plants are to thrive.

Water and Humidity

A large, shallow water dish should always be provided for these animals. While they rarely swim, the large surface area of the water will increase ambient cage humidity and provide an emergency retreat for the frogs should the enclosure become too hot. Humidity levels within the enclosure should be moderate to high, but native regions do experience a dry season, so low humidity levels can be tolerated for short periods of time. When spraying or adding water features to a vivarium care should be taken to avoid overly moist conditions, as this fosters bacterial and fungal growth. For the vast majority of situations, spraying the contents of the enclosure (substrate, furnishings, cage walls, etc.) once daily should be sufficient. Hand spray bottles are fine, but automated misting systems are available for more elaborate set-ups or for when the keeper may be away for an extended period of time. In addition to these, a reptile fogger can be used to increase humidity in a very aesthetically pleasing way. The fog can also act as a cooling system during the warmest summer months.


All Reed Frogs are insectivores, and in captivity will thrive on a diet of appropriately sized crickets and other readily available feeder insects. While some adult frogs will accept a variety of worms, most frogs prefer crickets during all life stages. Very small specimens can be given fruit flies as well. All food items should be dusted regularly with a high quality calcium/vitamin D3 supplement. This is especially important for young, growing frogs which should receive supplementation at every feeding. Larger frogs can receive this supplement less frequently, as they are done growing and in little danger of metabolic disorders. In addition to the calcium supplement mentioned above, a reptile multi-vitamin should be utilized as well. Available as a powder (like the calcium), it should be lightly dusted on the prey items once or twice a week. Always consult the label of both the calcium and vitamin supplement for proper dosing information, as they vary from one manufacturer to another.


Like most frogs, Reed Frogs do not tolerate excessive handling. While they are harmless and can be safely handled for brief periods of time, they should not be acquired as a "hands-on" pet. In addition to being stressful for the animal, frogs have sensitive skin that can easily absorb pathogens or toxins from our hands.