Red-eyed Tree Frog (Agalychnis callidryas) Caresheet
by Colleen Boyd
Red-eyed Tree Frog Taxonomy
The Red Eye Tree Frog has become the "poster child" of the Save the Rainforest effort. Due to the frogs unusual characteristics and colors, most individuals recognize the Red Eye Tree Frog. They are known for their cat like tomato red eyes with vertical, black, elliptical pupils. The dorsal surface, face and legs are leaf green, with bright orange toes. The side of their body is blue with white to gold stripes. Their upper arms are also blue in color. Some color variation has been noted depending on the location or range of the individual frogs habitat. Frogs from the northern range (Mexico and Honduras) have no stripes on the sides of their body and have orange thighs. The bars on the side of the frog are connected by a yellow stripe indicating the frog is native to Nicaragua and Costa Rica. There is another variation from Panama, which can have orange and blue thighs with "T" shaped bars on the side. It is not unusual to find white spots on the back in variety of number in any of the red-eyes ranges. They have a white underbelly. During metamorphosis these frogs are brown and can have white speckles. The adult coloration will not take place for several months.
Females of the species are larger, on average of 2 ½ -3" in length. Their male counterpart is only 2 to 2-1/2" in length. The life span of the Red-eye is around 5 years.
The Red-eyes range is from southeastern Mexico to Panama but might also be found in Colombia. Most exported frogs come from Nicaragua. The Red-Eye Tree Frogs are found in the neotropical rainforest close to streams or water sources. They are arboreal (tree dwelling) spending their time in the canopy of the rainforest, rarely descending to the floor. They are also nocturnal and are excellent jumpers.
Red-Eye Tree Frogs are not considered an amphibian for beginners. Wild caught animals are more difficult to raise than captive bred, but both can be a challenge. These frogs are more commonly used for display than for handling.
Red-Eye Tree Frogs do well in a community setting with more than one frog. They require an enclosure that is tall instead of long as they require height for climbing. A minimum of a 10-gallon size aquarium (20" L x 10" W x 12" H) is recommended for one frog with an additional 5-gallon size (16" x 8" x 11") space for each additional frog. Remember the taller the enclosure, the happier the frog. Tops should have at least half glass and half screen to help keep humidity levels high. For more information on how to make an arboreal enclosure check out the following link: Converting For Arboreal
Red-Eyes do best with a daytime temperature of 75-85 and a night temperature of 65-75. Being from the Rainforest, Red-eye Tree Frogs require high humidity 80-100 percent. High humidity can be obtained by using a misting system or hand misting several times a day.
Red-Eye Tree Frogs can do very well at room temperature, but to keep the enclosure at the recommended temperatures you can use any of following: Under-tank heater (UTH) or a human heating pad, ceramic emitter or low wattage incandescent bulb. In the summer you must also be aware of temperatures and take measures to cool your enclosure if necessary. This can be done by changing the location of your enclosure (moving it away from windows so that it does not have direct sunlight), circulate the air in the room with a fan or open a window. UV light has not been proven to be beneficial to the frogs, but if you are using live plants then you must provide the plant with a 12-hour photoperiod.
Substrate can be as simple as moist paper towels or as complex as a grown cover mixture. The following ground mixture can be used. The bottom layer is 1" deep of gravel for drainage. The second layer is 2"-3" of organic soil, or orchid bark and the top layer is an inch of sphagnum moss. One area of the floor should contain a pool of water; this is essential for breeding Red-Eye Tree Frogs. Use of an underground or canister filter is easiest to maintain this pool.
It is important to remember that Red-Eye Tree Frogs are arboreal, requiring many different levels of vegetation. Plants should be repotted or directly potted into the substrate. When repotting or planting make, sure you rinse the plants to remove all pesticides and fertilizers, which can be harmful to your Red-Eyes. Choose broad leaf varieties of plant that can support the weight of the frog. Some suggestions include snake plants (Sansevieria), many bromeliads, pothos ivy, some philodendrons, Japanese evergreen, java moss, Anthurium, Mongtera species and creeping figs. Remember, plants will require a full spectrum bulb for growth. The Red-Eye Tree Frog does not require any special lighting, so make sure you provide hiding or shade spots in your enclosure.
Red-Eye Tree Frogs eat a variety of insects, including crickets, flies, moths, grasshoppers, and even other small frogs. The rule of thumb is to only feed insects that are no larger then the width between the frogs eyes. Insects should be dusted with vitamin powder with vitamin D3. A source of water should be available at all times for the frogs to re-hydrate themselves either by drinking or submerging.
The Red-Eye Tree Frog breeding season is from October through March. The males will attract females by croaking, sometimes in unison. Males may compete for the same area on a branch, climbing on top of each other until they fall off leaving only one male. When there is only one male left he will attach himself to the female with his legs. Then the breeding process can begin. During mating other males may climb on the back of the breeding male and the wrestling match begins again. The female, who is hanging upside down on the back of a leaf, must support the weight of all males. The wrestling match continues until there is only one male left again.
Next the pair hangs upside down on a leaf over a water source. The female lays one egg at a time. The male then will fertilize the egg. The female needs to make sure her body is hydrated during the mating process; eggs require a high percentage of water to survive. The female will enter a pool of water when she needs to re-hydrate herself. Once in the water the wrestling match begins again. During this time males may change positions while in the water leaving the female with a different partner upon exiting the water. When the process is complete, the eggs are left to mature on the underside of a leaf that is overhanging the pool. In a few days, the eggs hatch and the tadpoles are released into the water. The tadpoles mature in the water and become froglets. Tadpoles can be fed fish food. When they develop their front legs they can be placed in a separate tank.
Tadpole tank setup: Put 5" of water in half of a tank, the other side needs to be land. Make sure you provide a filer system to keep the Ammonia levels at a minimum. Ammonia is the number one killer of tadpoles. The setup will also need plants and bark. The bark can be used as a way for the froglets to enter and exit the water. Once they loose their tails they can be moved back to the original enclosure. Remember to feed the correct size prey.