Clown Treefrog / Hourglass Tree Frog Care Sheet

Scientific Facts

Common Name: Clown Treefrog, Hourglass Tree Frog
Scientific Name: Dendropsophus Ebraccatus
Length: Up to 2 inches
Life Span: 4 to 5 years
Clutch Size: 400 to 600 eggs
Habitat: Lowland Rainforests and Humid Jungles
Country of Origin: Throughout Central and South America

Physical Description

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Clown tree frogs come in a wide range of patterns and colors. They are beautiful frogs that are common throughout their range. Most of the time, they feature a brown base color, with tan, yellow, or cream patterns. There are also other mixtures that currently exist, including yellow, red, or black. These frogs are observed to have very delicate skin; as such, they do not usually tolerate being handled.

Their skin is also prone to poison, toxins, and oils. Compared to an average frog, these creatures are small in terms of size. They grow to about 2 inches, with females being the larger between the two sexes. Just like other tree frogs, they are good at climbing. They are known because of their distinct raspy call, along with a harsh primary note that is then followed right away by several raspy, but shorter notes.

Quite interestingly, these frogs are observed to be more vocal as the barometric pressure declines, at times giving a hint of an approaching storm. They are also found close to human habitation in most parts of their range. As such, they are easy to find. They are also captured frequently for the pet trade. Being beautiful and colorful and easy to care for, these frogs are loved by keepers. As such, they are a great beginner frog for individuals who want to further explore the beauty of keeping amphibians.

Related Subspecies

Clown tree frogs are considered as the namesake species that belong to a group of other related frogs, including Dendropsophus bifurcus, Dendropsophus anceps, Dendropsophus ebraccatus, Dendropsophus elegans, Dendropsophus rossalleni, Dendropsophus sarayacuensis, and Dendropsophus triangulum. The genus Dendropsophus may sound familiar, as they used to be former members of the genus Hyla.

All of the frogs belonging to this group are members of the Hylidae family and the Hylinae subfamily. Most of them do not go over a couple of inches when measured from snout to vent. Most of these frog species feature a darker brown base with tan, yellow, or cream markings.

Dendropsophus leucophyllatus, for example, features a wide variety of patterns, some of which are different in terms of appearance. As a matter of fact, the morph involving the giraffe phase of this species was described and recognized at a time as a separate species, the Hyla favosa species, later on, synonymized with the Hyla leucophyllata species.

In their wild environment, clown treefrogs breed around floating meadows or temporary forest pools. A floating meadow can be described as a slow-water or oxbow part of a river where the surface is almost completely covered with floating plants, among other emergent and aquatic floating plants. Most of the clown treefrogs are also found around pounds and forest clearings.

These frogs are known for their unique raspy call combined with a harsh primary note that is immediately followed with a number of equally raspy, yet shorter notes. Most often, the eggs are deposited by female frogs on leaves right above the water. Hatchling tadpoles also drop into the water, living along beneath the aquatic system. During a peak season, huge breeding groups of clown treefrogs may be observed, with several hundreds of frogs grouping together.


When it comes to feeding your frogs, there are a number of advantages in using a feeding fish. For one, you can make sure that the food always stays in the same place. This also means that your frogs will easily get accustomed to the location where they can find their food. Also, since the frogs are already accustomed to feeding out of the same dish, they will also more likely to try anything that you put inside, including appropriately sized live food items. This is applicable even if they may not be familiar with the food item just yet. This trick is often used by some keepers when introducing live items that are otherwise not eaten by this species.

Another advantage you can expect is that by placing your crickets inside the feeding dish, they cannot easily crawl out into the corners of the enclosure, or right into the medium and eventually die. Since you have once dish in a certain location, you can easily see the amount of food that is available with a quick glance on the dish. By introducing batches of live prey items to your clown treefrogs will help in their long-term maintenance and health.

It is very important to wash the feeding dish occasionally. The walls of the dish are prone to accumulating debris from the frogs as they crawl in and out of it. In time, the debris will give the crickets with a gripping surface, which can be used by them to escape out of the dish.

Another important part of maintaining the health of your amphibians is gut, loading them with food items. Gut loading means feeding prey items. For example, you can feed your crickets with a rich diet before feeding it to your frogs. This process can help in supplying nutrients to your captive animals. The ingredients that you can use for gut-loading the live prey items are diverse. In fact, there is no single formula that can be considered an idea. At the same time, the right level of vitamins and minerals also depends on the species.

Among the items that you can feed your prey items, including spaghetti squash, yellow squash, acorn squash, and pumpkin. You can save as well if you buy for your consumption, and simply get the internal parts that you usually would not eat. Other appropriate materials for gut-loading include chard, kale, bok choy, spinach, as well as small amounts of carrots that are mixed with other healthy ingredients, such as leafy green vegetables.

When feeding leafy greens to your crickets, for example, it is important to wash them thoroughly with liquid soap. This will help in making sure that pesticide residues are removed thoroughly. You may gut load the crickets around 24 hours before feeding them to your frogs. You can also dust the crickets in every other feeding, using vitamin and mineral supplements, or use calcium supplements every third feeding.


Clown tree frogs are generally insectivores. This means that they primarily insects. They usually get all of the nutrition that they need from their staple food – crickets. This means that even in captivity, crickets remain as their main diet. If you are not that friendly with these little creatures, having a clown tree frog may not be best for you.

In the wild, they also eat other insects, including moths, grasshoppers, as well as anything that they can possibly fit into their mouths. Before feeding them any insect, it is recommended to gut load their food. Crickets may be fed with carrots, as well as other cricket food and water, which are usually found in pet stores.

Before feeding them to your clown tree frogs, give your crickets 24 hours. Your clown tree frog will eat what the crickets also eat. Clown tree frogs have to be fed every 3 to 4 days. Their ideal portion is 15 appropriately sized crickets. The crickets should be no longer than the width of the head of your tree frog.

With this, adding a slick-sided glass bowl works really well in keeping the bugs in a certain place. This will help the frogs to know where to locate their food as well.  


For clown tree frogs, foliage is the most important type of shelter. They want to spend most of their time off the ground, which is why it is good to provide either fake or live branches, plants, and vines. You may also install a couple of hides on the ground while making sure that they are a number of places for them to hide throughout the entire enclosure.

These frogs do not usually require huge spaces to live in. In fact, a 10-gallon enclosure tank can comfortably house one or two frogs. For every frog that you add inside, you can also add 5 gallons to the size of the tank. Among the most important thing that you need to prepare for the enclosure is ventilation. As such, it would be best to ensure that your enclosure comes with a screen top.

Clown frogs would be happy to live in groups, though they may breed if the males and females are housed all together. Vertical space is usually more important than horizontal space, as height is an important factor for these species. Clown tree frogs love to climb, that’s why.

Humidity and Water

Since clown tree frogs come from tropical areas in the world, they need their enclosure misted or sprayed with water once daily. This also means that they will need a water bowl that is huge enough for the frogs to stand and soak in. The use of dechlorinated water is sufficient for your frogs.

In order to ensure the presence of adequate humidity inside the tank, you may opt to use a glass canopy. Airflow is another thing that should be taken into consideration. For this, a small computer fan may be used in order to help in keeping the air inside the tank from being stagnant.

It is very important to note that stagnant water inside a terrarium may result in bacterial issues with your frogs. This is why, when selecting a substrate, it should be just moist enough, but not soaked with water. Some keepers recommend using terra cotta balls to serve as a base layer for their substrate. The balls, as well as the water in between them,  will serve as the moisture reservoir inside the terrarium, while the balls absorb water, releasing moisture as the upper substrate starts to dry.

Light and Temperature

Clown tree frogs do not need an additional heat source, provided that their enclosure stays over 70 degrees Fahrenheit in the daytime. They also do not need additional UVA/UVB lighting inside their enclosure. Despite the lack of this requirement, a compact or standard fluorescent bulb should still be prepared, as this can offer a photoperiod and light for any live plants that you have installed inside the tank. If you decide to install live plants inside the enclosure, you may need a bulb that produces brighter light, depending on the specific species of plants inside.

The temperature is not as critical with clown treefrogs as they are with other amphibians from the tropics. In fact, some keepers have exposed this species with different temperatures, and they thrive well. Still, if you want your frogs to live healthily, you may want to make sure that night time temperatures do not drop below 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

The temperature at daytime should also not go over the mid-80 degrees Fahrenheit. It is vital to maintain humidity by misting the terrarium once every day. Check the substrate from time to time, keeping moisture, while making sure that it is not overly moist.

Having access to fresh and clean water is a must for almost all amphibians in captivity, including clown treefrogs. A ceramic or plastic dish is a good option. Make sure that the water is changed regularly while maintaining a shallow amount of water all the time. One reason for this is because crickets may jump into the water, drowning. Dead crickets may foul the water fast.

This issue may be prevented with the addition of a water dish on top of an upside flowerpot, raising the level of the dish. Feeding, on the other hand, maybe easily accomplished inside a smooth-sided glass dish. A glass dish that has taller sides is an ideal option. Crickets love to jump, and you certainly wouldn’t want them to end up somewhere they should not be in.

Substrate and Decor

Non-fertilized potting soil, and bed-a-beast works really well as substrate options. Other options also include sphagnum moss and shredded coconut fiber. They have the capacity to hold in humidity quite well, and as a bonus, they are very attractive too. The substrate should be around 2 to 3 inches in depth. Other substrate options that may work also include paper towels, reptile bark, and peat moss. You can even combine soil, peat moss, and bed-a-beast in order to create an attractive effect.

Sand and gravel, on the other hand, are not good options for the enclosure. There is a tendency for the frogs to swallow them, and could be dangerous. These substances also do not hold humidity well enough too. As species coming from rainforests, clown tree frogs require humidity to thrive.

Your frogs will also appreciate having live plants inside their living space. Plants help in increasing airflow and quality while improving the humidity of the tank. Among the best plant options include Sansevaria, Philodendron, and Pothos.

Other tropical, large-leaved plants are also great choices. Having plants with branches to climb and perch on will also be loved by your pets. The branches may be oriented in a way that is approximately the same width as your frog. While adding real plants are great, but if you do not have the talent, you can also opt to use a lot of natural-looking fake plants that are available in stores. The denser the branches and plants are, the better the frogs will like it.

You can also get more extra creative by setting up a waterfall, which can either be made on your own as a DIY project or purchased readily. There are available waterfall kits that can be purchased at specialty reptile stores.


As mentioned earlier, clown tree frogs have really delicate skin, which is why they should not be handled in the same way that you would handle a leopard gecko or a corn snake. When you reach out to these frogs, they will easily hop away from you. If there is a valid reason for you to hold them, make sure that you rinse your hand very well before and after since clown tree frogs can easily absorb the oils and toxins on your hand.


Some keepers who decide to breed their own clown tree frogs become unsuccessful. If you are planning to do so on your own, you may want to get a group of five to six frogs first, with the group consisting of males and females. To mimic the breeding season that happens in the wild, it is recommended to cool the enclosure off, creating a rain chamber inside, where water is misting the enclosure constantly.

The female clown tree frogs will start laying unfertilized eggs as soon as they are ready. The males will be the ones to fertilize the eggs. The eggs will then be laid in the water that is attached to floating leaves and branches. Because of this, it is important to prepare enough laying sites for multiple batches of eggs. Once the eggs become fertilized, they can be placed in half an inch of water with the same branches or leaves they were initially attached to.

Rain Chamber

When it comes to breeding clown treefrogs, a rain chamber is usually a requirement. A rain chamber creates a condition inside the enclosure that closely resembles a rainstorm. It also serves appropriate sites for egg deposition.

There are a number of factors that need to be considered when preparing a rain chamber. For one, rain may be created in two possible ways. One, a misting system may be used, one that draws water from a clean reservoir. It also includes an overflow in your rain chamber for excess water to be drained accordingly.

The second way involves the use of a recirculating system. This involves the use of a pump that draws water out of a pool in the bottom part of the terrarium, pushing that water through plumbing, and back out of a sprinkler head or spray bar at the top of the cage.

The use of a freshwater reservoir and a misting system offers a number of advantages to your frogs. They enjoy showering clean water, as well as onto the eggs. This system copies the conditions in the wild. One downside of having a reservoir, however, is that it requires refilling. This means that if you want to mist your frogs for a much longer period of time, it may be a difficult job to always maintain and keep up with.

How to Care for Clown Treefrogs

Provided that your clown treefrogs are cared for properly, they will be very happy thriving in captivity. In fact, they are known to live at least 4 or 5 years in captivity, filling the area, as well as the surrounding locations with their loud vocals at night.

As mentioned earlier, when describing the housing of clown treefrogs, clown treefrogs do well when housed inside a taller vivarium. With this in mind, it is often recommended to provide a terrarium with controlled ventilation, thus allowing slow air turnover with the maintenance of having an internal microclimate with higher humidity. You may want to choose terrariums that come with a screen that is built right into the top of the enclosure, as well as ventilation ports in front of the unites right blow the front opening doors.

These additional elements offer a level of ventilation, at times, too much for your clown treefrogs if the housing is kept inside a home with air conditioning. This may be solved easily by installing a custom-cut glass piece over the top of the enclosure. Some keepers put small squares of cardboard at every corner of the top, as well as under the glass so that the glass is lifted up the top slightly. This type of modified setup slows down the movement of air but does not completely remove it.

Clown treefrogs also love living with live plants. The leaves need to be strong and large enough to hold the weight of the frogs. When introducing a live plant inside the terrarium, there is a need to install a lighting setup that can also accommodate them.  Among the best options include a full-spectrum fluorescent bulb, which should also be replaced once every 4 to 6 months.

With these bulbs, you can prepare a 12-hour light and dark schedule, which also works best if you have a timer that automates the system quite beautifully. By adding these live plants, your frogs will have a lot of places to sleep and climb. Adding strategically placed thin branches, as well as a cork bark piece, will also help in providing cover, as well as climbing materials for your frogs.

Caring for Tadpoles and Juveniles

After a number of days in the main chamber, the female frogs will start depositing their eggs on the leaves of plants, at, or above the surface. The average clutch size in captivity usually ranges from 400 to 600 small eggs. You can simply leave the eggs in the rain chamber undisturbed. They usually hatch in 5 to 10 days later, depending on the temperature. The tadpoles are observed to spend most of their time on the bottom of the terrarium.

Young frogs usually accept various fish foods, including small pieces of frozen food items, as well as sinking pellets. You may experiment with different food, though starting with Sera Micron is a recommendation of some keepers. This food will sink after a while, and they can be eaten by the tadpoles in the bottom.

The tadpoles metamorphose within two to five months, still, depending on the amount of food available, the temperature of the water, density, and period in between water changes. It is recommended to change the water regularly. Limit strong water circulation as these tadpoles are not really adapted to moving waters. Note that frogs that are going through a metamorphic stage need a corner inside the enclosure with good humidity. Still, too much humidity may lead to skin infections, so making sure that regular ventilation is also provided is as important.

FAQ Section

Are clown tree frogs poisonous?

These frogs have really delicate skin. They do not love it when they are being handled. Their skin is also prone to toxins, oils, and poisons.

What do clown tree frogs eat?

In the wild, clown tree frogs eat moths, grasshoppers, as well as anything that they can put into their mouths. In captivity, it is recommended that before feeding them any insect to your frog, make sure to gut load them. For instance, crickets can feed on carrots, as well as cricket food and water.

Are clown tree frogs nocturnal?

Clown tree frogs are nocturnal. They sleep above the ground during the day. Male frogs call loudly at nighttime. Reproduction and breeding usually happen in forest ponds, flooded river banks, as well as other bodies of water.

How big do clown tree frogs get?

The average clown tree frogs reach around 2 inches in length. Females are usually larger between the two sexes.

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