Tomato Frog Care Sheet
Developed with and approved by a qualified veterinarian.
Tomato frogs are nocturnal (active at night) terrestrial frogs native to the swamps, rainforests and marshes of Madagascar. As active climbers and jumpers, these frogs are fun to watch. Like other amphibians, tomato frogs have sensitive skin that can be injured by oils and residues found on human skin; wear moistened, powder-free gloves when handling and only handle them when necessary.
Typical appearance and behavior
- As their name implies, tomato frogs have red-orange skin and round bodies as adults, making them resemble tomatoes; juvenile tomato frogs have yellow-brown colored backs and gray-brown colored sides that eventually change to their adult red color
- Females are larger than males, reaching up to 4”, while males only grow as to 2.5”
- Females tend to be redder, while males are more yellow/orange
- With adequate habitat space, they may be housed in groups with males and females together
- When stressed, they secrete a white, sticky, irritating liquid from their skin as a defense mechanism against potential predators
- Adults have been known to eat juveniles, so they should only be kept with habitat mates of similar age and size
- They typically are sedentary during the day, burrowing into their substrate, and become more active at night when lying in wait, hunting for and ambushing prey
- As pets, once acclimated to a habitat, they are typically calm and docile
|Average Life Span||6-10 years with proper care|
|Average Adult Size||Up to 4” for females and 2.5” for males|
|Minimum Habitat Size||20 gallons for 1–2 adults|
The appropriate habitat size depends on how many frogs are being housed together. A minimum of 20 gallons is appropriate for 1–2 adult frogs. As a general rule, if you are keeping more than one frog in a habitat, allow 10 gallons of space per frog. Tanks should have a tightly fitting screen top to prevent escape and allow adequate ventilation. Tomato frogs may be housed alone or with other tomato frogs of similar size and age. They reach adult size in 1–2 years under ideal conditions.
Building your habitat
- Provide several hiding places to help tomato frogs feel secure and to decrease territorial behavior
- Live and artificial plants, commercially available branches, driftwood, leaf litter and cork bark can all be provided to help frogs feel safe and to provide stimulation
- An open, shallow dish of dechlorinated water large enough for tomato frogs to soak in should be available
- Maintain habitat humidity at 60–80% by misting with dechlorinated water daily and as needed
- An open bowl of shallow water helps maintain humidity through evaporation
- Monitor humidity with a humidity gauge
- As terrestrial frogs who live in moist areas, tomato frogs require a substrate that holds moisture to maintain humidity; moist sphagnum moss and coconut fiber work well
- Substrate should be at least 2” inches deep so the frogs can dig, burrow and hide
- Bedding made of small particles, such as sand or small bark chips, is not recommended, as it is indigestible, so it can lead to life-threatening gastrointestinal tract obstruction if accidentally consumed
- Provide a temperature gradient that ranges from 68°F at night and in the cool zone to no higher than 80°F in the warm zone
- Exposure to temperatures higher than 80°F for even short times can be deadly to these frogs
- Monitor temperatures with at least two thermometers
- A low-wattage incandescent bulb, an under-tank heating pad or a ceramic heat emitter can be used as a heat source, as long as appropriate humidity is maintained
- Heat sources should be attached to thermostats to regulate temperatures; thermostats are especially important with heating pads, which can get hot and cause burns through the tank floor if not regulated properly
- Hot rocks should not be used as a heat source, as they can burn amphibians’ delicate skin
- Amphibians not kept at the appropriate temperature ranges are more likely to become immunosuppressed and get sick
- Terrestrial amphibians do not require UV (ultraviolet) light to survive, but a low-level (2.0 or 5.0) UVB bulb is recommended to encourage natural behaviors and can be used with a low wattage incandescent bulb to help establish a normal 10–12-hour day/night cycle
- Ensure the tank does not get too hot
- Provide hiding places for frogs to avoid light, as needed.
Cleaning your habitat
- Thoroughly clean and disinfect water bowls daily; the habitat should be spot-cleaned daily to remove droppings
- Thoroughly clean the remainder of the habitat at least once a month:
- Place frog in a secure habitat, handling it gently so as not to damage its delicate skin
- Scrub the tank and furnishings with an amphibian-safe habitat cleaner or 3% bleach solution.
- Rinse thoroughly with hot water so no residue remains; it is imperative that all traces of the habitat cleaner or bleach solution are gone
- Dry the tank and furnishings completely and add clean substrate before putting frog back in the habitat
- A well-balanced tomato frog diet consists of a variety of insects and worms, including gut-loaded (recently fed) crickets, mealworms, flightless fruit flies, beetles, roaches, waxworms, calci-worms, superworms, Phoenix worms, earthworms and freeze-dried bloodworms
- Tomato frogs also will consume frozen/thawed pinkie mice occasionally
Things to remember when feeding your tomato frog:
- Waxworms, Phoenix worms and mealworms are not as nutritionally balanced as other prey items, so they should be fed less often
- Terrestrial frogs generally enjoy hunting for prey, so only live insects and worms should be offered
- Feed juveniles daily and adults every other day
- If your frog looks like they’re getting overweight or if leftover food is found in the habitat, decrease the frequency of feeding
- Sprinkle food with a calcium supplement daily and a multivitamin supplement once a week
- Feed frogs as many insects as they will eat in 15 minutes
- Vary diet as much as possible to keep frogs interested and to provide complete and balanced nutrition
- Remove uneaten insects so they don’t chew on or injure frogs’ skin
- Don't handle tomato frogs unless necessary
- Always wear moistened powder-free gloves when handling frogs; bacteria and oils on your skin can be absorbed through the frog’s delicate, porous skin and harm them, plus tomato frogs have small glands in their skin that secrete irritating toxins to scare off predators
- Do not allow frog’s secretions to contact your eyes, mouth, or open wounds
- Use an appropriately sized, small-mesh, soft net to move or block the frog while doing habitat maintenance
- Frogs shed their skin every few weeks; they eat it as they shed so as not to alert predators to their presence and to consume nutrients present in shed skin
Where to buy a panther chameleon
Tomato frogs are available for purchase at your local Petco Pet Care Center location. Please call ahead to check availability.
- Appropriately sized habitat
- Sphagnum moss
- Water and mealworm dishes
- Hideaway place
- Climbing décor
- Heat light
- Heat fixture
- Under-tank heater
- UVB lighting and fixture
- Multivitamin supplement
- Calcium supplement
- Cricket keeper
- Cricket food
- Live insects for food
- Cricket quencher
- Humidity gauge
- Tomato frogs can be kept together as long as they are approximately the same age and size
- Do not house different amphibian species together
Signs of a healthy tomato frog
- Active and alert
- Clear eyes, nose and mouth
- Skin free of hanging shed skin, sores, wounds or discoloration
- Clear vent
- Plump, rounded body
- Eats and passes stool regularly
- Hops and moves freely
- Hunts, stalks and catches prey actively
- Maintains body weight
Red flags (If you notice any of these signs, contact your local aquatic specialist or aquatic veterinarian)
- Weight loss or decreased appetite
- Bloated abdomen or other body parts
- Skin lesions or discoloration
- Distressed breathing
- Imbalanced or weak movements
- Sunken or cloudy eyes
- Dull reactions
- Excess hanging shed skin
- Discharge or bubbles from eyes, nose or mouth
Common tomato frog health issues
|Health Issue||Symptoms or Causes||Suggested Action|
|Health IssueChemical intoxication||Symptoms or CausesCaused by exposure to soap, detergent, pesticides, oils on human skin, etc.||Suggested ActionConsult with your veterinarian and protect your amphibian from exposure|
|Health IssueIntestinal obstruction||Symptoms or CausesLethargy, decreased appetite, bloating; caused by swallowing gravel or other indigestible substrate or by eating too many hard-shelled insects||Suggested ActionConsult with your veterinarian; surgery may be required|
|Health IssueNutritional deficiencies/ metabolic bone disease||Symptoms or CausesLethargy, weakness, bone fractures, decreased appetite, change in skin color||Suggested ActionConsult with your veterinarian and ensure a varied diet; use vitamin and mineral supplements|
|Health IssueSkin problems||Symptoms or CausesLesions, sores and discoloration of skin; caused by bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections.||Suggested ActionConsult with your veterinarian|
- What do tomato frogs eat? Tomato frogs eat a variety of insects and worms, including gut-loaded (recently fed) crickets, mealworms, flightless fruit flies, springtails, isopods, silkworms, roaches, beetles, waxworms, calci-worms, superworms, Phoenix worms, earthworms and freeze-dried bloodworms. Tomato frogs will also consume frozen/thawed pinkie mice occasionally.
- How big do tomato frogs get? Female tomato frogs are larger than males and can grow up to 4”, while males only reach 2.5”.
- Where do tomato frogs live? Tomato frogs are nocturnal (active at night) terrestrial frogs native to the swamps, rainforests and marshes of Madagascar.
- How long do tomato frogs live? Tomato frogs can live up to 10 years with proper care.
- What kinds of worms do tomato frogs eat? Tomato frogs eat mealworms, silkworms, waxworms, superworms, calci-worms, Phoenix worms, earthworms and freeze-dried bloodworms.
- Can tomato frogs live together? Tomato frogs can be kept together as long as they are approximately the same age and size.
- Is the tomato frog poisonous? When stressed or threatened, tomato frogs can release an irritating, toxic secretion from their skin to ward off predators; however, they are not poisonous.
- What does a tomato frog sound like? At night, during the breeding season, male tomato frogs make loud, repetitive croaking sounds to attract females.
Additional care sheets
Notes and resources
Ask a Pet Care Center associate about Petco's selection of products available for the care and happiness of your new pet. All products carry a 100% money-back guarantee.
Because all frogs are potential carriers of infectious diseases, such as salmonella bacteria, always wash your hands before and after handling your frog and/or habitat contents to help prevent the potential spread of diseases.
Pregnant women, children under the age of 5, senior citizens and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physicians before purchasing and/or caring for a frog and should consider having a pet other than a frog.
Go to the Centers for Disease Control at cdc.gov/healthypets for more information about Frogs and disease.
The information on this care sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If your pet is sick or you need additional information, please contact your veterinarian as appropriate.