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Tomato Frog Care Sheet

Scientific Facts

Common Name:Tomato Frog
Scientific Name:Dyscophus
Life Span:5 to 8 years
Size:Males can reach 2.5 inches, and female can grow as large as 4 inches
Habitat:Forests, ponds, marshes, scrublands, canals, rivers, and semi-aquatic areas
Country of Origin:Madagascar, from Antongil Bay to Andevoranto

Physical Description

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Tomato frogs are one of the most vibrant and colorful pet frogs available today. It’s known for its striking colors, which range from yellow to red. Female frogs have a brighter color, which can be red to orange. Meanwhile, male frogs have yellow to orange skins. The undersides of these beautiful frogs are off-white. You can also see frogs of the same kind that have black spots on their backs, which is also known as rhomboid markings. It’s easy to spot 2 dorsolateral folds that run down on their backs. Although their hind limbs are webbed, it’s not as pronounced as other frog species. And their forefeet are not webbed. These attractive frogs also have dark brown stripes that extend behind their eyes and up to their rear legs. 

Adult frogs are more attractive compared to their offspring. Young frogs have a lighter brown color and have a white underbelly. However, as they mature, their colors become brighter and more vibrant. From light brown colors, their skin begins to turn orange or red, depending on their sex. Aside from having slight color differences, female frogs are also larger compared to the male ones. An adult female tomato frog can reach up to 4 inches while males only reach about 2.5 to 3.5 inches. 

These frogs belong to the Microhylid family, also known as “narrow-mouthed frogs.” They are also considered as the largest frog in the Microhylid family. They thrive and survive in tropical habitats. The native habitat of tomato frogs is on the island of Madagascar, and they love the forests and swampy areas. They prefer semi-aquatic areas that have stagnant or slow-moving water streams. When it comes to communication, these frogs have unique vocalizations that can be heard all night long. 

Life Span 

 

The average lifespan of tomato frogs is about 6 years, although there are reports about frogs that live as long as 10 years. Their lifespan is significantly extended when in captivity, provided that the keeper has given then proper care and nourishment. These frogs are available throughout the year. However, if you want to catch them easily, then it’s recommended that you hunt them during late spring and early summer. It’s a beautiful frog that is commonly caught for petting and captive breeding. It’s also common to see these frogs in pet trades. 

Breeders suggest that your new keepers start with young captive-bred frogs since they are more likely to be free from diseases or parasites. Keep in mind that wild-caught tomato frogs can carry diseases that can be harmful to you and your other pet frogs. It’s also worth mentioning that these frogs are known to secrete thick substances that can cause allergic reactions to human beings. In the wild, these frogs release these substances to numb the mouth and eyes of their predators. It’s a unique defense mechanism that allows the frogs to escape from predators. 

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Eating Habits

 

Tomato frogs are nocturnal animals, which means that they are active during night time. Their most common food sources are arthropods and small invertebrates. Both juvenile and adult frogs share the same affinity for insects and worms. In captivity, you can feed them with mealworms, crickets, or any kind of insects. There’s little information about how these frogs catch their prey in the wild. However, it is said that they only turn their heads towards their meal once it’s at an angle that is less than 40 degrees to the side of their mouths. Just like any other frogs, their tongue is projected by opening its jaw. Their elongated tongue propels with through hydrostatic mechanisms, which helm them in aiming their prey as well. 

These frogs are carnivorous, and their primary diet is insects and arthropods. There are also instances of them eating mollusks, zooplankton, and terrestrial worms. It’s important that breeders provide them not only meals but also vitamin and mineral supplements. 

Sleeping Habits    

Just like any other frogs, tomato frogs are nocturnal. These frogs sleep during the day to avoid extreme heat. What they do is they bury themselves underground or tuck themselves under large stones, rotting woods, and damp areas in the forest. It’s important to note that sunlight can easily dehydrate these tomato frogs. And so venturing during night time and sleeping in daylight is best for them. Tomato frogs also hibernate and take long deep sleep, especially during colder seasons. Hibernating is their way of adapting to their environment to survive colder temperatures. 

Tomato frogs can also be seen hibernating beneath the mud of underwater. Take note that amphibians breathe through their skin, and they can absorb oxygen in the water. During sleep, these frogs will close their eyelids. They have 3 eyes: lower eyelid is stationary; the upper one is for blinking to keep their eyes moist. And yes, they close their eyes whenever they sleep. 

Development and Reproduction

Like most other anurans, tomato frogs are considered polygynandrous. Male calls the females and ampleflexing them during the seasons when rainfalls are heavy. Reproduction commences during the wet seasons, and this is the perfect condition for the frogs to search for the best partner. However, some studies tell us that even if it’s not the rainy season, males are still calling for mates. He can be heard calling for females during dry seasons in Madagascar. If you want to breed these beautiful frogs, then you must provide them the perfect condition. 

Since these frogs prefer to breed in freshwater pools, you must make sure that you have a bowl or small area inside the enclosure where there is fresh and clean water. You must be prepared for these male frogs during the breeding season since they can emit loud noises like “saogongogno.” After the female appears, they will both pair up. The male frog will cling tightly to the female’s back – this behavior is also known as amplexus. The process can take a few minutes up to several hours. 

These frogs lay their eggs in swamps, shallow pools, or bodies of water where there is slow or stagnant water movement. The female tomato frogs can lay up to 1,000 to 1,500 eggs. The role of the male is to fertilize these eggs. The eggs will then start floating on the surface of the water and begins to hatch within 30 to 36 hours. Metamorphosis of these tadpoles will begin approximately 30 days or a month. Several months later, these frogs will begin to develop, the transition from black to tan to orange or red. 

One of the best ways to determine the sexual maturity of these frogs is to observe their skin coloration. It will take several months before their black skin begins to change to a more reddish or orangey color. Research tells us that these frogs will reach their sexual maturity after 2 to 4 years. And given the right conditions, a sexual mature frog is then able to breed and reproduce. 

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How to Breed

If you’re planning to breed these frogs, then you need to know that there urge to mate heavily depends on the environmental conditions. You must replicate their natural environment. As stated earlier, these frogs mate during wet seasons or when there is heavy rainfall. This weather condition can be quite challenging to mimic, but with research, you should be able to do it. Aside from considering the environment, you also have to make sure that you know whether or not the frogs have already reached their sexual maturity age. Doing your homework and following these guidelines should make things easier for the keeper to breed these frogs. 

Sexing

First of all, before you start breeding them, you need to makes sure first that you’re able to distinguish male frogs from the females. Sexing adult frogs is pretty straightforward, and you don’t need special tools just to confirm it. Telling the differences is simple, and all you have to do is compare their sizes. Female tomato frogs are larger compared to male frogs. They can grow between 3.5 to 5 inches in length. On the other hand, males can only measure between 2 to 2.5 inches in light. 

Aside from checking their sizes, another way to determine male frogs from the female ones is by checking their colors. Females have brighter and redder colors than males. Males can either be yellow or orange. Male skin is not as bright as the female. Also, you’ll notice that both sides of the male’s bellies have reproductive tracts. It’s easily observable, and all you have to look for are white lines underneath their skin. For novice keepers, it’s recommended to check for photos and illustrations. Compare the appearances of male and female tomato frogs. 

Breeding Process

After determining the sex of these frogs, the next thing that you need to do is to encourage them to provide. The key to successful tomato frog breeding is replicating their natural habitat. As much as possible, you want to mimic the natural breeding season, which is the rainy season. Now that you know what kind of environment you need to prepare for your frogs, you will then prepare the cage or enclosure. Proper set up is essential to increase the chances of mating. You must choose the right substrate inside the enclosure. Seasoned breeders prefer pea gravel that is covered with sheet moss. You can also add cork barks, plants, and even plastic huts or containers where your frogs can hide. The frogs must feel safe and secured inside the enclosure. Your goal is to create a place for them that is stress-free and conducive for breeding. 

Creating a slope inside the cage or enclosure is critical. It should be slightly sloped for pool water to run down. Your terrarium must be large enough to fit 4 males and 2 females. We recommend an enclosure that has a measure of 46 x 24 x 24 inches. Again, you have to replicate their natural habitat for them to breed. You can add full-spectrum light inside the enclosure. Find those lighting systems that are safe and energy-efficient. Light is very useful in copying the daytime cycle. 

Dry Season

Aside from providing adequate light, you should also make sure that you provide the right humidity level. When breeding these frogs, you must keep the humidity between 55% and 65%. You should also not forget to make some adjustments to the water level and make sure that it’s decreased slightly. While slightly decreasing the water levels, you must increase ventilation. Try to avoid misting the enclosure. The aim is to set up an enclosure or terrarium that has relative humidity. Maintain these dry seasons for 6 months. 

Rainy Season 

You have to be very patient when it comes to breeding these frogs. After 6 months of replicating the dry season, you will then start to mimic the reason season. This is where you begin to increase the water levels and start misting the enclosure to simulate rain inside. And just like the rainy season, make sure that you dim the lights. This signals the male and female frogs that the rainy season has arrived, and it’s time for them to reproduce. After doing this, you should expect the male to start making a call. They will begin calling the females. Once the male and female pair up, the male frog will start to climb around the back of the female and will start to grasp her. You’ll find both of them in an amplexus position. 

Laying of Eggs

The female tomato frog will then pass her eggs through the cloaca. The male, on the other hand, will start to fertilize the eggs outside the body. Once you start seeing eggs inside the enclosure, it’s then time for you to move the parents or adults outside. You have to make sure that you separate the adults from the eggs the soonest time possible since there’s a great probability that adult frogs will eat the eggs or their tadpoles. Within 48 hours or 2 days, these eggs will begin to hatch, and tadpoles will start to emerge. 

Tadpoles

Some keepers separate the tadpoles once they reach a quarter of an inch. You can place them in spate containers that have sponge filters. For those who have experience in raising tadpoles, separating each one of them is beneficial since it gives them more control in taking care of them individually. However, you need to note that it’s not essential that you separate the tadpoles. But if you want to monitor the health of each tadpole, then you can freely separate them from each other. 

Tadpoles are very easy to feed. You can give them Tetra staple flakes or Spirulina flakes. You can even provide them aquarian tropical flakes. Aside from regularly feeding them, you should also make sure that you change the water regularly. Maintain clean and fresh water to prevent bacterial infection. And after a month or 30 days, you can expect these tadpoles to metamorphose. From eggs to tadpoles and tadpoles to froglets. Now, you can start feeding them with small insects such as crickets or fruit flies. This is also the right time for you to introduce vitamin and mineral supplementation. Don’t worry about their brown or black colors since it will begin to lighten up and become brighter after a few months. 

Common Health Problems

Bacterial Diseases

Tomato frogs that are maintained in captivity are prone to bacterial diseases or infections. If left untreated, the bacterial disease can lead to a more severe health condition and may end in death. Common causes of bacterial infection include unsanitary enclosures, traumatic injuries or wounds, and secondary infections such as mycotic skin infections and viral infections. Chytridiomycosis and saprolegniasis can also cause bacterial diseases. To prevent this health problem, you must keep their cage or enclosure clean all the time. You should also make sure that you change the water regularly. Feeding them proper and healthy meals is also the key to avoid these diseases. And of course, visiting the veterinarian from time to time can also help prevent it. 

Fungal and Parasitic Infections

Aside from acquiring bacterial diseases, frogs and other amphibians are also prone to fungal and parasitic infections. Frogs that are immunocompromised are prone to fungal infections. Immediate and aggressive treatment is needed as soon as possible since these diseases can kill your frog without warning. Always check for dark gray to light tan nodules on their skin. Bear in mind that fungal infection and diseases can lead to death if left untreated. Causes can be stress and unsanitary environmental conditions. Giving them vitamins and mineral supplementation is also a great way of preventing fungal infections. 

Providing them a clean habitat will not only prevent bacterial and fungal infection, but it will also help in preventing parasitic infections. Two of the most common parasites that can invade your frog are amoebiasis and entamoeba ranarum. Roundworms or nematodes are also common in amphibians. Some frogs have been affected by lungworms or rhabdias. Keep in mind that bacteria, fungus, and parasites are contagious. This can cause heavy stress to your frogs and can even lead to mortality. If you’re introducing a new frog in the group, make sure that you quarantine them first. Treat them properly and be sure that you seek advice or recommendations from a reliable veterinarian. 

Frog Toxicities 

We can’t emphasize more how crucial it is for keepers to maintain a healthy and sanitary enclosure or terrarium for their frogs. Frogs are very sensitive to environmental toxins, and this is because they have permeable skin. Frogs and amphibians also have very body weight to surface area ration. While you must maintain hygiene inside the enclosure, you have to be very careful in what kind of disinfectant you’re going to use. Bear in mind that ammonia, chlorine, and iodine are toxic to frogs. 

It’s not recommended that you use plastic containers as enclosures since plastic properties can absorb these disinfectants easily without being visible. It’s highly recommended that you use glass or stainless steel instead. Signs of toxicity include lethargy, agitation, convulsions, vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and even paralysis. Moreover, you have to make sure that you don’t use pesticides around the enclosure or smoke cigarettes. 

Hypo/Hyperthermia

Temperature matters when it comes to taking care of these frogs. You have to make sure that you monitor and regulate the temperature properly. You don’t want to expose your frogs at a very hot temperature, and you also don’t want them inside the cold enclosure for prolonged periods. Extreme heat and called can be life-threatening. This can affect the gastrointestinal tract of your frogs. Digestion problems will occur of the cage becomes too cold, and this can lead to vomiting. 

On the other hand, hyperthermia can also be lethal to your frogs. Signs of hyperthermia include hyperactivity, lethargy, and loss of appetite. This can also result in death. The best way for you to prevent this health problem is to ensure that you keep the right temperature. Frogs that have been exposed to severe heat and cold must be sent to the veterinary for fluid and corticosteroid intervention. 

Metabolic Bone Disease 

Another common health problem that you should watch out for when keeping tomato frogs is Nutritional Metabolic Bone Disease or NMBD. Some keepers prefer to it as nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism. Calcium and vitamin D3 deficiency are two of the primary causes of this disease. Malnutrition and starvation can also trigger NMBD. The frogs will have a hard time moving around and are under stress all day. They will also have problems digesting their foods. Limb and spinal deformities can also happen. The best way to treat this disease is by providing your frogs proper nutrition and giving them vitamin and mineral supplements. It’s also essential that you install the right UVB lights. 

Overfeeding and Obesity

It’s very satisfying indeed to feed these beloved frogs of ours; however, we have to monitor what we are feeding them. These frogs are prone to gastric overload or impaction. Feeding them large food items and excessive amounts of a meal can make them bloat. Excess meals will be regurgitated. Overfeeding can also put pressure on their lungs, which can affect their breathing patterns. It can also lead to bacterial growth and other life-threatening diseases. Excessive feeding also promotes bacterial overgrowth. The best way for you to treat gastric overload is to go into the frog’s stomach and use forceps to retrieve food items. Although it’s recommended that you go to a reliable veterinarian to have your frog checked. 

You also want to make sure that your frogs don’t become obese since obesity has detrimental effects on their bodies. That’s why you should maintain a regular schedule when feeding your frogs. You should also look out for foreign body ingestion. These frogs will instinctively attack anything that moves. It’s possible that instead of catching their prey, their sticky tongues will capture cage items or foreign materials and ingest it accidentally. Some frogs regurgitate rocks, but some do not. And so you have to make sure that you think of what items you’re going to place inside the enclosure or terrarium. 

Dehydration

Make sure that your frogs have enough water in their system. You want to avoid chronic dehydration, and this can be done by regulating the right humidity levels and providing them with water all the time. Although tomato frogs can handle some degree of dehydration, you shouldn’t allow it to happen since this can leave for permanent damage. Dehydration can damage their kidneys can make their skin dry, and discoloration appears. Lethargy and weakness can also happen if there is dehydration. Provide your frogs with chlorine-free water. Make sure as well that the water is well-oxygenated. 

Chlamydiosis

Chlamydiosis is common to both wild and captive tomato frogs. It’s caused by chlamydial organisms and can infect your frogs. This disease can be life-threatening as well. Signs and symptoms include weakness, loss of appetite, abdominal swelling, sloughing of skin, and digestive problems. The causative agent, which Chlamydophila, can ruin the internal organs of your frogs, affecting their kidneys, spleen, and liver. If you observe any signs that were stated above, then the best thing that you can do is go to the nearest veterinarian. The best veterinarian out there will provide your frog’s antibiotics. 

Behavior 

 

If you’re keeping these frogs, then you need to know that these frogs don’t like to be handled. They have sensitive skin that can be easily damaged. Soap and oil residues on human skin can be very harmful to them. You need to thoroughly wash and rinse your hands before handle your pets. Also, bear in mind that these frogs can secrete a liquid that can cause allergic reactions to human beings. These frogs secrete a white liquid whenever they feel stress or threatened. To avoid harming yourself or the people near the frogs, you have to wash your hands after handling the frogs. Make sure as well that you do not touch your mouth or eyes after handling the frogs. 

Tomato frogs are somewhat secretive; these means that they prefer to be alone and hiding instead of being handled. Although they can be tamed and can tolerate handling, you shouldn’t handle them time after time. You should only handle them whenever you’re cleaning the enclosure or terrarium. Also, you need to note that you don’t want to join young and adult frogs in one enclosure. Young frogs or froglets can be a delicious meal for the adult frogs. 

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Habitat 

To ensure that your tomato frogs get to live a happy and healthy life, you need to provide the optimal environmental conditions at all times. You want to consider several factors first before you start rearing these amphibians. It can be quite challenging at first, but with research and patience, keeping these pets should become easier. Remember that there are essential pointers that you need to think about. You want to make sure that everything is prepared before you buy a frog and place it inside your home or property. Here are some of the important things that you need to consider when keeping tomato frogs.

Housing

If you’re planning to keep 2 adult tomato frogs, then it’s recommended that you select a 10-gallon aquarium or terrarium. When it comes to enclosure size, bigger is always better. Make sure that there is enough space for your frogs to explore, wonder, and distance themselves from other frogs or animals inside the terrarium. Again, you also have to mimic their natural habitat to ensure that they will enjoy their stay. You must place in log tunnels (half branches) since this will provide them a comfortable spot to hide. It’s also beneficial that you add some plants inside the enclosure, such as Pothos. You have to keep in mind though that these frogs love to burrow, and so don’t be surprised if the plants are disturbed and their growth becomes stunted. You can also use fake plants for decoration. 

Make sure that you also place a water dish or bowl inside the cage or terrarium. You must pick bowls or shallow water dishes. When refilling the water, make sure that they are dechlorinated. There are many products in the market today that can help condition the water or dechlorinate it. And as much as possible, you want to make sure that you provide them more horizontal space than vertical space. 

Substrate 

Another important thing that you need to consider is the substrate that you’re going to use. Bear in mind that these frogs love to burrow, and they appreciate substrates that allow them to do it without difficulty. Some expert breeders prefer coconut fiber, while some use clean soil. Since these frogs love to burrow, it’s recommended that you place the substrate at least 2 inches deep. You can also combine 2 great subsoils such as coco fiber and topsoil and mix it with sphagnum moss. To retain humidity in the enclosure, you must dampen the moss first. And when using soil, make sure that they were not treated with any fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides. 

Lighting and Temperature

Light plays an important role in your frog’s health. Be sure that you use the right lighting system, such as fluorescent tubes that are used for aquariums. Gather as much information as you can about the daylight spectrum bulb first before you install it. And yes, there’s no need for you to purchase UV lighting. Aside from good lighting, you also have to ensure that you provide the right temperature. You should purchase heat pads that have thermostat controls. The goal is to keep the temperature between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Consider the climate condition in your area. Also, don’t forget to create a basking spot for your frogs where they can keep warm if the weather is too cold. 

Humidity

To maintain the right humidity levels, you have to mist the enclosure ever one to three days. Installing glass lids is also very helpful since this can promote good ventilation and at the same time, maintain the right humidity levels. Bear in mind that insufficient ventilation can lead to respiratory disorders. When it comes to humidity levels, you have to make sure that you keep it around 65 to 80%. 

Food and Water

These frogs should only be fed with live food. Tomato frog staples include crickets, blood worms, small invertebrates, and other insects. You have to consider the size of your tomato frog before you give them anything. You don’t want to feed your frogs with extremely large meals since this can cause overload and can choke your frogs. You can feed them with mealworms or mealworms. Their food should be well-balanced. And don’t forget to provide the vitamin and mineral supplement as well. Dusting their food with calcium and other vitamin supplements can help in preventing amphibian diseases. 

Your frogs should also have access to clean and dechlorinated water. You want to make sure that the water has a neutral pH level. Although distilled water is considered pure water, the problem with it is that it doesn’t have adequate minerals. If you’re using tap water, be sure that you dechlorinate it first using water conditioners. Fill their shallow water dish with water every other day or as much as needed. And again, you want to make sure that the water is not too deep since they are bad swimmers, and they may drown. 

How to Care for Tomato Frogs

Caring for tomato frogs is not a challenging task; just remember these tips and guidelines. You have to know how they live their lives in the wild to understand more about their health and behavior. Maintaining the right environmental conditions is crucial. If you live in a climate where there is extreme heat or cold weather conditions, then bear in mind that these frogs are from the tropics. You want to regulate the temperature properly and check whether or not the humidity levels are properly adjusted. Also, if you want your frogs to live a healthy and happy life, then don’t forget how important it is to feed them with the right meals. Even if the environmental conditions are at an optimum level, if you don’t provide them nutritious foods, it’s still possible that your frogs will get sick. 

You should also make sure that you don’t handle or carry your tomato frogs from time to time. We understand that these frogs are really cute and are very attractive to hold and touch. However, if you want to prolong their lifespan, then it’s best that you don’t stress them out – handling can cause stress to them. Also, be sure that you wash your hands before and after handling the frogs. 

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Where to Get One?

Fortunately, getting tomato frogs is very easy. You can find them in your local pet stores, or you can also order online. You can purchase them at Backwater Reptiles, Underground Reptiles, Josh’s Frogs, and at Reptile City. Be sure that you ask the shop about the frog’s health before you order them. It’s recommended that you always check the reputation and the background history of the online pet store before you purchase anything from them. Asking for tips and pieces of advice from your friends who have bought these frogs from a particular store before is also recommended. And of course, make sure that you check out reviews and testimonials written by people who have trusted the online pet store before. 

FAQ Section

Is tomato frog poisonous? 

These frogs secrete a gooey white substance that contains toxins. These toxins can cause allergic reactions to humans but will not kill them. 

Are they good pets?

Yes, indeed, they are. Considered as one of the most popular frogs in the market, tomato frogs are friendly, docile, and very easy to handle. They also look very attractive because of their vibrant red to orange colors. 

Can you hold a tomato frog?

Yes, you can hold them, but they don’t like being handled. As much as possible, you want to make sure that you avoid handling these frogs, except if you’re cleaning the enclosure or transferring them to another terrarium. 

Where to tomato frogs live?

They are found only in Madagascar and love to live in forests. 

Do tomato frogs croak?

Although they are considered as “narrow-mouthed” frogs, these frogs can be heard the croaking. Male can croak all night and call out mating partners, especially during the rainy season. 

When were they discovered?

Tomato frogs were discovered back in 1875, where French Alfred Grandidier has been traveling to Madagascar. 

Can you place more than one frog in one enclosure?

Yes. In fact, you can place 2 males and 4 females in one enclosure. However, you need to make sure first that they enough space to move around and socialize. 

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