White’s Tree Frog (Litoria caerulea)

By Snaketracks / August 7, 2020

White Tree Frog or Dumpy Tree Frog  (Litoria caerulea) Care

The White’s Tree Frog, Australian Green Tree Frog, or Dumpy Tree Frog is a species of tree frog native to Australia and New Guinea, with introduced populations in the United States and New Zealand. Though the latter is believed to have died out.

The common name of the species, “White’s Tree Frog”, is not about its color. But it comes after John White, who was the first one in describing the species in 1790.

In fact, the color of the White’s Tree Frog is caused by blue and green pigments covered in a yellow layer.

The species was originally called the “blue frog”  despite its green color. This was because the first specimens being sent to England were damaged by the preservative and appeared blue. The preservative had destroyed the yellow layer and left the frogs with a blue appearance.

The specific epithet, caerulea, which is Latin for blue, has remained.

White Tree Frogs can live in either seasonally dry or wet habitats. They prefer moist, forested environments but have skin that can adjust to drier situations.

They are arboreal species. Which means, they typically live in trees.

Rain collects on leaves and in crevices in tree trunks where the frogs always have a source of water to keep themselves moist.

Quick Reference Section

  • Experience level:  Beginner
  • Family: Pelodryadidae
  • Scientific Name: Litoria caerulea
  • Habits: Nocturnal
  • Size: 4 to 4.5 inches (10 cms). Females are usually slightly bigger than the males
  • Lifespan: They can live up to 20 years in captivity but tend to live around seven to ten years on average
  • Predators: White Tree Frogs have a few native predators. Among them are snakes and birds. Non-native predators are primarily dogs and cats
  • Conservation status: Least Concern. However, the Australian law gives protected status to the White Tree Frog—along with all Australian fauna— under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
  • Why choose a White Tree Frog as a pet: It is one of the hardiest of the frog species, is unafraid to humans,  and their size makes them one of the easiest to find and most handleable in the list

How Does A White Tree Frog Look Like

Dumpy Tree Frog on a branch
Dumpy Tree Frog on a branch

White Tree Frogs are normally light blue or green in color with white underbellies.

They are a muted color, generally ranging from soft green to bluish.

The eye has a horizontal pupil which gives this species a “sleepy-looking” expression in their eyes. Most other tree frogs have vertical pupils. The fatty ridge over the eye is a distinctive feature of the species.

Females have white throats, and males have a grayish wrinkled vocal sac underneath their throat.

White Tree Frogs have enormous toe pads with partial webbing between fingers and almost complete webbing between toes.

Another name for the White Tree Frog is “Dumpy Tree Frog” because of their fat and pudgy body type.

White Tree Frog Reproduction

Australian Green Tree Frog
Australian Green Tree Frog

Breeding occurs between November and February.

During the mating season, the males call from slightly elevated positions close to the still-water sources in which they choose to breed.

The female expels her eggs with such force that they go through the deposited sperm cloud and stop up to 1.5 feet (0.5 meters) away.

Eggs Laying

Clumps of between 200 and 2000 eggs are laid which initially float, but sink within 24 hours.

Eggs Hatching

Hatching begins about 28 to 36 hours after laying.

Tadpoles Development

Tadpoles Development takes from two to six weeks, after which they undergo metamorphosis and leave the water as juvenile frogs. 

White Tree Frogs reach sexual maturity in their second year.

White Tree Frog Habitat

whites dumpy tree frog on a branch
whites dumpy tree frog on a branch

Enclosure Requirements

White Tree Frogs can be housed in groups as long as they are of similar size. Otherwise, larger frogs may attempt to eat the smaller ones.   

Four of them will survive in a 25-gallon aquarium. But, the more space the better. 

The selected tank should be tall rather than wide, as this is an arboreal species. 

A good option is Exo Terra All Glass Terrarium Kit, for Reptiles and Amphibians.

As suggested with other arboreal species, the selected enclosure should be enriched with lots of climbing facilities. For example, EONMIR 8-Foot Reptile Vines and Zilla Reptile Décor Malaysian Driftwood.

White Tree Frogs are nocturnal. Covering the back surface of the tank with dark paper helps the frog find a secluded and dimly lit area to sleep during daylight hours.

Substrate & Decor

The substrate will help to create and maintain an environment similar to the White Tree Frog’s native tropical habitat.

The foundation of the floor can be built with large-sized washed gravel covered by chemical-free soil. Large pieces of bark can then be used for more foundation. And any exposed soil can be covered with sphagnum moss, which helps to retain the moisture.

Some good options include pebbles or moss as a substrate and you can add something like the Zilla Reptile Bark Bends as a hiding place.

Plants: In case you decide to use natural plants to decorate the enclosure, make sure that they are free of fertilizer or pesticide residues. Also, make sure the plants you use are hefty and strong-stemmed.

Last but not least, live plants in the enclosure should be kept in small, moveable pots to make cleaning easier.

Temperature

White Tree Frogs can tolerate a wide range of temperatures but are best-kept between 72F to 80F. At night-time temperature can drop into the 60s. 

Lighting

White Tree Frogs are nocturnal, so they do not have special lighting requirements. However, it is advisable to keep a regular light-dark cycle.

12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark works well.

Humidity

White’s Tree Frogs are also tolerant of a wide range of humidity. But an average of 50% or so should be achieved with spikes up to 70% right after misting once or twice a day.

Providing ventilation is very important as humid conditions quickly lead to bacterial skin infections in White Tree Frogs. A large dish of clean water should always be provided. 

Use a hygrometer inside the tank to measure the relative humidity.

Feeding

Whites tree frog
Whites tree frog

White Tree Frogs eat mealworms (create a mealworm farm), crickets (create a cricket farm), and roaches several times a week. But as their nickname suggests, they can get chubby quickly so their diet should be monitored closely.

Insects can be gut loaded in advance. Products like Zoo Med Reptivite can offer your White Tree Frog calcium to ensure healthy bone growth with the correct 2:1 calcium to phosphorus ratio together with the amino acid complex all the vitamins and minerals your White Tree frog requires to grow and stay healthy.

Temperament & Handling

Their temperament is docile.  They will tolerate light handling. As with other frog species, be careful not to allow any chemicals or soap residue to have contact with their skin.

When threatened, White Tree Frogs will emit an ear-piercing distress call.

Health Concerns

In general, the majority of diseases of amphibians maintained in captivity will relate directly or indirectly to husbandry and management.

This is partly due to the high permeability of their skin. They are very susceptible to toxic insult, and a variety of chemicals may be problematic in wild or captive animals. 

Some of the more common amphibian diseases with bacterial etiologies include bacterial dermatosepticemia or “red leg syndrome,” flavobacteriosis, mycobacteriosis, and chlamydiosis.

The most common viral diseases of amphibians are caused by ranaviruses. Mycotic and mycotic-like organisms cause several diseases among amphibians, including chytridiomycosis, zygomycoses, chromomycoses, saprolegniasis, and ichthyophoniasis.

Protozoan parasites of amphibians include a variety of amoeba, ciliates, flagellates, and sporozoans.

Common metazoan parasites include various myxozoans, helminths (particularly trematodes and nematodes), and arthropods.

Commonly encountered non-infectious disease etiologies for neoplasia, absolute or specific nutritional deficiencies or overloads, chemical toxicities, and inadequate husbandry or environmental management.   

Dietary Problems

Of the specific dietary problems that affect amphibians, some of the more commonly encountered challenges are the vitamin and mineral imbalances related to metabolic bone disease.

Specifically, these imbalances include the failure to ingest or adequately process vitamin D3, calcium, or phosphorus to maintain them in the proper ratios.

Elevated levels of vitamin A may also interfere with the normal metabolism of vitamin D and contribute to metabolic bone disease.

However, most often the metabolic bone disease is caused by low levels of calcium or improper calcium: phosphorus ratio in the insect prey (Wright and Whitaker 2001 ).

Many insects used as food or prey, including mealworms, waxworms, earthworms, and fruit flies, have low levels of calcium or imbalanced calcium: phosphorus ratio (Barker et al. 1998 ).

It is possible to correct this calcium deficiency by feeding the insects calcium-rich food or by dusting the insects with a calcium-rich powder.

Source: Diseases of Amphibians Christine L. Densmore, David Earl Green ILAR Journal, Volume 48, Issue 3, 2007, Pages 235–254, https://doi.org/10.1093/ilar.48.3.235

Another dietary problem commonly associated with keeping White Tree Frogs as pets is overfeeding. White Tree Frogs tend to become obese if overfed.

Signs Of A Healthy White Tree Frog

  • Hides often
  • Eats vigorously
  • Clear eyes and smooth skin

* keep in mind that this is a nocturnal species. Therefore it is more active during night-time

Red Flags

  • Loss of appetite
  • Hazy or cloudy eyes
  • Does not scape away from capture
  • Weight loss

Interesting Facts

A milky white coating called “caerviein” helps them survive in dry areas, allowing them to live in agricultural and suburban areas.

The skin secretions of the frog have antibacterial and antiviral properties that may prove useful in pharmaceutical preparations. Moreover, they are used for fighting staphylococcus bacteria that can cause abscesses, lowering blood pressure, and treating cold sores caused by the herpes virus.

White Tree Frogs are sometimes used as model animals in research. The structure of their toe pads was used to investigate the microstructure and properties of the epithelium that allows the animals to adhere to wet surfaces.

Like many other tree frogs, White Tree Frogs can change color to some degree.

Price and Availability

White Tree Frogs are available for sale at $39.99 at Back Water Reptiles.   Also, some awesome morphs of White Tree Frogs are available for sale in the range of $39.99 to $174.99 at Josh’s Frogs.

White Tree Frog Care Video

Conclusion

The White’s Tree Frog is one of our top frogs when it comes to choosing one as a pet. They are easy to care for, not picky eaters, and just look cool.

Other cool frogs which also make great pets include the Tomato Frog, Amazon Milk Frog, and of course the African Dwarf Frog. Be sure to check out our best pet frogs article to see all of our favorites!

What frog do you own or plan on getting? What made you choose that or them? We love hearing from you so let us know in the comments below!

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