Best Pet Amphibians

By Edward Hodsdon / March 12, 2021

10 Best Pet Amphibians

The best pet amphibians vary from person to person and include species ranging from frogs to salamanders to the axolotl. With amphibians, you’ll have a pet that is fascinating to observe and fun to watch. But they also have certain care requirements that you should bear in mind.

Most of these species will require a mainly aquatic tank set up, and you’ll also have to be extremely careful if handling them. This is because toxins from our skin can easily be absorbed by amphibians, which could prove harmful.

If your amphibian is comfortable with handling, either wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling with dechlorinated water or wear latex gloves.

A lot of amphibians will be insectivores, and it can be incredibly entertaining watching them eat. Others, like the Budgett’s or Pacman frog, will also eat larger prey such as rodents.

But not all amphibians are great to have as pets. So we’ve put together a list of 10 of the best pet amphibians to help you choose the right species for you, whatever your experience level.

1) American Green Tree Frog

American green tree frog (Dryophytes cinereus)
American green tree frog (Dryophytes cinereus)
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Hylidae
  • Scientific Name: Dryophytes cinereus
  • Other Names: Green Tree frog, Bell frog
  • Adult Size: Between 1 and 2 ½ inches
  • Lifespan: Between 2 and 5 years
  • Average Price Range: Between $5 and $10

Quick Care Requirements

  • Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Food: Insects
  • UVB Lighting: Can be provided
  • Ambient Temperature: Between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Humidity: Between 50% and 60%

As their name suggests, American Green Tree frogs are arboreal amphibians native to the Southeastern United States. They are the state amphibians for both Georgia and Louisiana. American Green Tree frogs prefer forest areas close to marshes, ponds, and swamps.

American Green Tree frogs come in many shades of green, sometimes ranging towards yellow. Their underbellies are cream or white, and males can inflate their throats to bark when mating. These frogs are a medium size.

American Green tree frogs are one of the easiest amphibians to care for and are popular as pets. As an arboreal species, they need an enclosure with more vertical space to allow them to climb. A vertical tank equivalent to 10 gallons is the minimum requirement. A selection of branches, logs, and artificial or live plants should be provided for climbing.

The ambient temperature for these hardy frogs should be kept between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit with a temperature gradient, so the regular temperature in your home should suffice. Use a ceramic heater at the hot end of the enclosure, but never let it become higher than around 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

Humidity should stay between 50% and 60%, requiring daily misting. These frogs can be housed in bio-active enclosures, or with substrates such as a reptile carpet. Provide a water dish that is shallow enough for your frog not to drown.

A few crickets are the best staple for their diet and should be dusted with calcium and multivitamin supplements around twice a week. They will usually leap down from their canopy to catch their prey before bounding back up.

It is wise not to handle your American Green Tree frog too often to minimize potential toxins entering their body. It is best to observe them, although they are mainly a nocturnal species.

2) African Bullfrog

Pixie Frog Handling
African giant bullfrog being held in hands
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Pyxicephalidae
  • Scientific Name: Pyxicephalus adspersus
  • Other Names: Pixie Frog
  • Adult Size: Between 6 and 10 inches
  • Lifespan: Between 20 and 30 years
  • Average Price Range: Between $20 and $35

Quick Care Requirements

  • Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Food: Insects and rodents
  • UVB Lighting: Can be provided
  • Ambient Temperature: Between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Humidity: Between 70% and 80%

These huge frogs are quite easy to care for despite their large size. African Bullfrogs are a large species found in the savannas and shrublands of Africa. They are primarily olive green in color, with large wide bodies and fleshy wrinkles on their skin. Color changes to orange around their arms and legs, while their underbellies are pale cream.

Being larger frogs, African Bullfrogs will need a larger tank. 20 gallons is a good size. You’ll also need to provide a water area equivalent to around one-third of the tank, as long as it doesn’t rise higher than your Bullfrog’s mouth. There should also be a land area with easy access for the Bullfrog to enter or leave the water. Use a filter to help keep the water clean.

Peat moss or rocks are good substrates to use, as long as the rocks are too large for your Bullfrog to swallow. You should also provide somewhere for your Bullfrog to burrow themselves in, such as a smaller container within the tank. Artificial plants and hiding places are also great to include.

To keep humidity at the correct level, mist the tank a couple of times each day. To establish the correct temperature gradient, use a heat mat at one end of the tank. This should never get hotter than 82 degrees Fahrenheit. UVB can be provided, and a 12-hour day/night cycle will help simulate the Bullfrog’s natural environment.

Feed your Bullfrog a staple diet of insects such as crickets, with small rodents occasionally for variety. For adults, between two and three feedings a week is sufficient. Beware of overfeeding. African Bullfrogs don’t enjoy being handled and can have grumpy temperaments, so avoid if possible. However, these large amphibians can be quite happy and docile when observed.

3) White’s Tree Frog

Whites tree frog
Whites tree frog
  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Pelodryadidae
  • Scientific Name: Litoria caerulea
  • Other Names: Australian Green Tree Frog, Blue Tree Frog, Dumpy Tree Frog
  • Adult Size: Between 3 and 5 inches
  • Lifespan: Between 15 and 20 years
  • Average Price Range: Between $25 and $80

Quick Care Requirements

  • Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Food: Insects
  • UVB Lighting: Can be provided
  • Ambient Temperature: Between 80 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Humidity: Between 50% and 60%

An ideal beginner species, White’s Tree Frogs are arboreal amphibians native to northern Australia. They were first discovered by the botanist John White in 1790. These medium-sized frogs sport colors ranging from brown to gray and teal, with white spots on their skin and golden eyes.

White’s Tree frogs can happily be housed together if they are of a similar size, but a 20-gallon tank is ideal for an individual. As an arboreal species, the enclosure needs to be tall rather than wide and contain branches, sticks, and logs for the frog to climb on. Live plants can also be added for cover.

These frogs like warmer conditions and need a temperature gradient from 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. A basking bulb is ideal for this, placed on one side of the tank. White’s Tree frogs don’t specifically require UVB light, but it can help if placed on a 12-hour day/night cycle.

Humidity should be maintained between 50% and 60%, meaning you’ll need to mist daily. A water dish that your frog can climb into and soak is also necessary, as long as you use dechlorinated water.

White’s Tree frogs are nocturnal insectivores and do well on a regular diet of crickets. Two to three feedings a week will be ideal for most larger individuals. Mature adults should receive calcium and multivitamin dusted foods once a week.

White’s Tree frogs tolerate handling much better than other species and are calm and docile, but you should still take precautions to make sure that toxins from your skin aren’t absorbed by your frog.

4) Oriental Fire-bellied Toad

Bombina Orientalis(Green Oriental Fire- bellied toad) on a white background
Bombina Orientalis(Green Oriental Fire- bellied toad) on a white background
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Bombinatoridae
  • Scientific Name: Bombina orientalis
  • Other Names: Tuti Toad
  • Adult Size: Between 1 and 2 inches
  • Lifespan: Between 10 and 15 years
  • Average Price Range: Between $15 and $50

Quick Care Requirements

  • Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Food: Insects, worms, fish
  • UVB Lighting: Can be provided
  • Ambient Temperature: Between 75 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Humidity: Between 65% and 80%

These small, vibrant amphibians are actually frogs and are one of the best initial species for intermediate keepers. They have simple care requirements, but they are mildly toxic. Whilst this won’t pose a danger unless ingested, it’s still something to bear in mind. Oriental Fire-bellied toads hail from South East Asia.

Oriental Fire-bellied toads have mottled skins combining vivid colors such as green, orange, and red with black patches. These markings cover the whole amphibian. Being a smaller species, a 10-gallon tank will hold two or three individuals. These toads prefer a semi-aquatic setup. The water level shouldn’t rise more than four inches, with the other half of the tank being terrestrial.

Your toad will need up to four inches of substrate for burrowing. For the aquatic section, you’ll need to add a water filter to help keep the tank clean. UVB light isn’t required, but can be beneficial on a day/night cycle.

Oriental Fire-bellied toads like humid conditions between 65% and 80%. Mist the tank every day and use a hygrometer. These toads may not require additional heat, as room temperature is usually sufficient. If needed, a heat mat under the land section or a low basking bulb can provide additional heat and help retain humidity.

Oriental Fire-bellied toads have a diverse diet including insects, worms, and even small fish. Do not use mealworms as they are difficult to digest. Feed your toad as much as it can eat in 15 minutes two or three times a week. Calcium and multivitamin supplements should be used as well.

Handling is best done infrequently, if at all. Oriental Fire-bellied toads are active during the day, so can be wonderful to observe. Their care requirements are fairly easy but must be taken care of regularly.

5) Pacman Frog

huge green pacman frog seen in front isolated on a white background
huge green pacman frog seen in front isolated on a white background
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Ceratophryidae
  • Scientific Name: Ceratophrys (various)
  • Other Names: Horned Frogs
  • Adult Size: Between 6 and 8 inches
  • Lifespan: Between 5 and 10 years
  • Average Price Range: Between $20 and $65

Quick Care Requirements

  • Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Food: Insects and rodents
  • UVB Lighting: Can be provided
  • Ambient Temperature: Between 78 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Humidity: Between 50% and 80%

Pacman frogs are voracious eaters that will consume anything that wanders too close. They are native to wide ranges of South America and can be purchased in several subspecies or color morphs. One of the most common types is the Ornate Pacman frog (Ceratophrys ornata).

These large frogs are mainly green in color, with brown to black patches across their bodies. They also have bumps across their skin. Their mouths are almost as wide as their body and open wide to swallow food. This gives them their Pacman moniker.

Because Pacman frogs mainly root themselves to one spot for the majority of the day, they don’t need a large tank. 20 gallons is more than enough. These frogs should be housed individually as they are likely to try and eat each other! A terrestrial setup is ideal, with plenty of plants, rocks, and burrowing substrate.

Pacman frogs are pretty hardy and can tolerate humidity levels between 50% and 80%. If humidity is lower, they will likely squat in their water dish. As for temperature, 82 degrees Fahrenheit is the ideal daytime temperature, dropping to 78 degrees during the night. Use a heating mat under the tank rather than a basking bulb as this can dry your frog out.

Pacman frogs will eat practically anything, even your fingers if you try and handle them so this isn’t recommended. They are best left to their own devices. For food, live insects, as well as dead rodents or feeder fish, give your frog plenty of variety. Feed larger specimens once every few days.

6) Amazon Milk Frog

amazon milk frog sitting on a rock
amazon milk frog sitting on a rock
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Hylidae
  • Scientific Name: Trachycephalus resinifictrix
  • Other Names: Amazon Cave Frog, Mission Golden-eyed Frog
  • Adult Size: Between 2 ½ and 5 inches
  • Lifespan: Between 5 and 10 years
  • Average Price Range: Between $45 and $150

Quick Care Requirements

  • Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Food: Insects
  • UVB Lighting: Can be provided
  • Ambient Temperature: Between 70 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Humidity: Between 50% and 100%

Amazon Milk frogs are a beautiful species native to the Amazon jungle in several countries in South America. They are arboreal amphibians with mottled skins ranging from olive green to brown to shades of gray or teal. They get their name from the milky fluids they can produce as a defense mechanism from bumps on their backs.

A 20-gallon tank should be sufficient for up to a pair of Amazon Milk frogs. A combination of branches, logs, and artificial or live plants will help create an arboreal habitat so they can climb. The substrate should be able to retain humidity, such as Sphagnum moss.

A temperature gradient should be provided in your frog’s tank, reaching about 85 degrees maximum on the warm side and as low as 70 degrees Fahrenheit at the cooler end. This can be achieved with a heat lamp. For humidity, you should mist daily to keep the levels between 50% and 100%. UVB lighting is also beneficial.

Amazon Milk frogs are nocturnal insectivores, so a diet of crickets as well as cockroaches and worms is ideal. Feed your frog twice a week and use calcium and multivitamin supplements with each meal.

Amazon Milk frogs are fairly tolerant of handling, as long as you take appropriate hygiene precautions such as using powder-free gloves. This is a gorgeous species to observe and interact with, especially when they feed at night.

7) Budgett’s Frog

Budgetts Frog in tank also known as a hippo frog
Budgetts Frog in tank also known as a hippo frog
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to Expert
  • Family: Ceratophryidae
  • Scientific Name: Lepidobatrachus laevis
  • Other Names: Hippo frog, Freddy Krueger frog
  • Adult Size: Between 3 ½ and 6 inches
  • Lifespan: Between 15 and 20 years
  • Average Price Range: Between $60 and $90

Quick Care Requirements

  • Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Food: Insects and mollusks
  • UVB Lighting: Can be provided
  • Ambient Temperature: Up to 77 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Water Temperature: Between 77 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Humidity: Between 60% and 70%

Budgett’s frogs are a large, comical semi-aquatic species native to the Gran Chaco region in South America. They have a flat build with their eyes perched on top of their heads, which make up almost half of their bodies. They usually range from dark brown to grayish colors.

The setup for a Budgett’s frog can be complex, as they need a larger 30-gallon tank split in half between terrestrial and aquatic sections. About 12 inches of water is ideal, and the water should be heated and filtered. For the land section, a substrate that allows the frog to burrow, like organic potting soil, is a good choice.

A substrate like this will help preserve humidity, keeping it between 60% and 70%. A UVB bulb can be provided on a 12-hour day/night cycle. Artificial or live plants can be used, as well as larger rocks. Make sure nothing can fall on your frog.

Budgett’s frogs are voracious eaters and will lunge for food, so take care when feeding. Live insects and mollusks will be the bulk of your frog’s diet. Dust prey with calcium and multivitamin supplements every other feeding.

Budgett’s frogs can be aggressive if handled, so only do so if absolutely necessary. They have a strong bite for a frog and may even be able to draw blood. They may also hiss. It is much better and more entertaining to simply observe them swimming and hunting.

8) Spotted Salamander

Yellow spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum)
Yellow spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Ambystomatidae
  • Scientific Name: Ambystoma maculatum
  • Other Names: Yellow-spotted Salamander
  • Adult Size: Between 6 and 10 inches
  • Lifespan: Between 20 and 30 years
  • Average Price Range: Between $20 and $30

Quick Care Requirements

  • Tank Size: 30 gallons
  • Food: Insects, Mollusks, and Rodents
  • UVB Lighting: Not required
  • Ambient Temperature: Between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit

Spotted salamanders are beautiful amphibians, with dark black skin and vibrant yellow spots. They are fossorial amphibians, which means they live a subterranean life most of the time. They are native to eastern regions of North America in damp forest areas.

Because they are a mainly underground species, Spotted salamanders do not have any lighting requirements. They also prefer cooler temperatures, and you shouldn’t use anything to raise the temperature of their tank any higher than the ambient temperature in your home.

Spotted salamanders will need a damp, deep substrate such as moss. This should be kept damp with regular misting, but not so much that it becomes saturated. A glass 30-gallon aquarium with enough substrate for your salamander to burrow into should do just fine.

The diet for your Spotted salamander will mainly consist of insects, mollusks, worms, and occasionally pinky mice. Three meals a week will be sufficient for most active salamanders. A shallow water bowl can also be provided.

Salamanders are relatively fragile but can be handled if done carefully. Salamanders can regenerate lost tails or limbs and will be calm and docile when picked up. Make sure not to hold your salamander for too long, as your body temperature could raise their heat level too much. Try and wear powder-free gloves when handling.

9) Tiger Salamander

Tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum)
Tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate to Expert
  • Family: Ambystomatidae
  • Scientific Name: Ambystoma tigrinum
  • Other Names: N/A
  • Adult Size: Between 6 and 8 inches
  • Lifespan: Between 10 and 25 years
  • Average Price Range: Between $25 and $50

Quick Care Requirements

  • Tank Size: 10 gallons
  • Food: Insects, mollusks, and rodents
  • UVB Lighting: Can be provided
  • Ambient Temperature: Between 50 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Water Temperature: Between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit (Larvae)
  • Humidity: About 70%

Tiger salamanders are a vibrantly colored species that are relatively easy to care for. However, if you are getting a Tiger salamander in its larval form, you’ll need much more focused care and will gradually need to transition from a fully aquatic tank to a more terrestrial enclosure.

Tiger salamanders have black skin covered with vivid patterns ranging from olive green to yellow. The Tiger salamander is the state amphibian of Illinois, and these salamanders can be found in woodland areas across North America.

A 10-gallon tank will suffice for either a larva or an adult. For the larval form, you need a well-filtered aquatic set up with six inches of water. As the salamander grows and its fins disappear, you’ll need to change the tank to a more terrestrial setup. A water area should be provided for adults alongside a land-based section.

About four inches of moisture-maintaining substrate is ideal for adults. Mist regularly, especially if it contains live plants. Tiger salamanders prefer colder temperatures, so once mature you likely won’t need to provide any more heat than room temperature. UVB is also not required if the room has a natural 12-hour day/night cycle.

Adult Tiger salamanders are insectivores and prefer a diet of crickets and worms as well as the occasional pinky mouse. Larvae will need to eat aquatic insects and crustaceans such as shrimp. For completely terrestrial tanks, give your adult salamander a shallow water bowl.

Tiger salamanders are calm and docile amphibians once used to your presence and will react to you once comfortable. Handling should be relatively minimal, with proper precautions such as clean hands or gloves.

10) Axolotls

Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum)
Axolotls (Ambystoma mexicanum)
  • Experience Level: Intermediate
  • Family: Ambystomatidae
  • Scientific Name: Ambystoma mexicanum
  • Other Names: Mexican Walking Fish
  • Adult Size: Between 6 and 10 inches
  • Lifespan: Between 10 and 15 years
  • Average Price Range: Between $30 and $60

Quick Care Requirements

  • Tank Size: 20 gallons
  • Food: Amphibians, crustaceans, and mollusks
  • UVB Lighting: Not required
  • Water Temperature: Between 60 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit

Axolotls are unique and fascinating amphibians to keep. They are native only to a few lakes in Mexico and are unfortunately critically endangered in the wild. Axolotls are very similar to salamanders, except that they remain fully aquatic when they reach maturity.

Axolotls have gills as well as lidless eyes on their broad heads. Three fleshy stalks with frilly gills protrude from either side of their heads. They come in several morphs and color variations such as albinos and leucistic. Colors can range from olive-brown to pink to pure white.

Although relatively simple to care for once everything is set up, Axolotls require a fully aquatic setup. A 20-gallon tank is the minimum, with a good filtration system to deal with the copious amounts of waste an axolotl will produce.

These amphibians also need relatively stable water conditions and regular partial water changes. The water temperature should remain between 60 and 64 degrees Fahrenheit. The pH level should hover somewhere around 6.5 and 7.5, and you should aim to provide water that has a hardness of between 7 and 8 dKH.

While axolotls cannot be handled for obvious reasons, they are fascinating to watch and will be very active, and will react to your presence. Sand is the ideal substrate for their tank, and they also like to have hiding places such as rocks or aquarium decorations. Live plants can also be a great addition.

The diet for an axolotl basically includes anything they can catch and eat. Mollusks and brine shrimp are the best staples for them, and they should be fed two or three times a week using long-handled forceps.

Conclusion

We’ve looked at several amphibians in this list of ten of the best pet species. Amphibians can be fascinating pets to observe. From frogs to salamanders and axolotls, there’s plenty of variety! Most will need semi-aquatic setups, but a few will be happy in arboreal enclosures or terrestrial homes.

The majority of these species are fairly active and fun to watch, but most should be handled infrequently, and with great care. Toxins can easily be transferred to amphibians through skin contact, so either wash your hands with dechlorinated water before handling or wear gloves.

So which amphibian is ideal for your experience level? Beginners can’t go wrong with frog species such as American Green Tree frogs or White’s Tree frogs as their setup requirements are relatively simple. Neither species takes up a lot of space, and White’s Tree frogs can tolerate handling. Even a larger species such as the African Bullfrog is good for beginners!

For intermediate keepers, a Spotted salamander or Amazon Milk frog will provide colorful, fascinating pet amphibians. Their care requirements are a little more involving but certainly achievable. Amazon Milk frogs can also be handled more frequently than other amphibians. If you have experience with fish tanks or aquatic setups, an axolotl can also be a great choice.

Experienced owners can tackle a species like the Budgett’s frog, or even try to raise a Tiger salamander from larvae to adult. This will require changes to the tank set up as the salamander matures. Budgett’s frogs are aggressive, voracious eaters who can be fun to watch in their semi-aquatic tanks.

Did you enjoy this list? If you did or if you’re thinking of purchasing one of these species for your collection, feel free to drop a comment below!

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