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Vietnamese Mossy Frog Care Sheet

Scientific Facts

Common Name:Vietnamese Mossy Frog
Scientific Name:Theloderma Corticale
Life Span:12 to 15 years
Length: 7 to 8 centimeters
Clutch Size:8 to 10 eggs
Habitat:Evergreen Forests, Rocky Areas

Physical Description

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Vietnamese Mossy Frogs are similar in appearance with that of a clump of moss. This must be one of the reasons why it earned its name. They come in green color, with black spots, and some visible spines and tubercles. They usually hide in water basins in crevices, usually only showing their eyes while keeping a watch on their surroundings. For this reason, it is not easy to locate them when they are sitting still. They also feature toe pads and love to jump. Male mossy frogs come with a pronounced breeding callus right on the base of their inner finger. 

They usually grow to a length of 3.5 inches, or 7 to 8 centimeters, with the male frogs thinner and smaller compared with females. When they are resting, they look very flat and wide. They also have a soft underbelly. Their main defense is camouflage, thanks to their color and appearance. When they feel nervous and frightened, they easily curl into a ball, pretending to be dead. As they are usually active at night, they usually spend their day time clinging on to mossy rocks right above the waterline, or just hiding under floating plants. 

Etymology

Theloderma, in the scientific name of mossy frogs, can be translated as “bumpy skin.” This is because the dermis or skin of these frogs can be described as “warty” or bumpy, with a red and green coloration. This serves as an amazing camouflage, making them almost impossible to see, especially when they are still and not moving. 

Aside from using their appearance as camouflage, Vietnamese Mossy Frogs also fold into a ball, playing dead. This is a very effective tactic in avoiding predators. 

Range

Vietnamese Mossy frogs are usually found at elevations of around 3,000 feet, usually in flooded caves and on mountain stream banks. They are semi-aquatic and nocturnal, which means that they usually spend most of their time hiding in water under floating plants and rocks. 

Life in the Wild

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As suggested by their name, the Vietnamese Mossy Frog came from Vietnam, specifically the northern parts of the country. Their natural habitat is in evergreen rainforests, along limestone cliffs. They also thrive along with rocky areas surrounded by water and vegetation. 

These frogs are semi-aquatic, which means that they can also be found inside watery caves, around mossy plants and hiding under rocks. These locations are perfect for mossy frogs as they can blend in easily. There is also a reason why they are called “mossy” frogs. They look like a moss clump. 

Sexing 

Identifying the gender of young frogs can be difficult. When they get older, however, it becomes more obvious and, thus, easy to determine. Just like with other frog species, females are usually bigger by 20% in size. Males, on the other hand, are smaller, with slender hind legs and slim bodies. 

The most dependable way of identifying the sex of your Vietnamese Mossy Frog is by using nuptial pads. When a male frog fully matures, they have nuptial pads on their front legs, which are either pink or red in color.

It is more challenging to identify the gender of mossy frogs during the juvenile and froglet phases. This is a reason why when local breeders are asked, they cannot also guarantee the sex of the frogs that they are selling. These frogs are usually sold while they are still young, which is why their sex is still not determined. 

How to Take Care of Your Vietnamese Mossy Frog

When housing your Vietnamese Mossy frogs, a recommended method is using 10-gallon cage per frog. Some breeders and keepers recommend a 10-gallon cage as a minimum, with an extra 5 gallon per frog inside the enclosure. 

A glass terrarium or aquarium with a screen lid is good enough. Two to four frogs can stay in one tank. A cage with dimensions of 24 inches x 18 inches x 18 inches is enough for 2 to 4 frogs. For two frogs, a cage with dimensions of 18 inches x 18 inches x 18 inches is good enough. Bigger cages are also good for your frogs. 

Since these frogs are semi-aquatic, they need a large bowl of water or partial or full water bottom with moderate to high levels of humidity. It may also be good to add both live and fake plants. Since they are active at night, there is no need to use artificial lighting. However, is required when you have live plants. 

Housing

Fill the tank with about 3 inches of filtered water. River stones or gravel may be used for the bottom, though they could be more challenging to clean than having nothing. These frogs do not seem to need substrate, though you can still opt to prepare some hiding places for them, usually made out of the ceramic or faux rock. You may also use smaller pieces of Mopani wood for them. 

You can also use something which protrudes out of the water even just a bit. There should also be an underwater area for the frogs to hide in. These will be used in order to perch out of the water, which means that it is very important to ensure that it is large enough to accommodate the whole frog. You may also use clay flower pots for them to serve as perches or hiding places. 

Prepare a reliable submersible filter inside the tank, as it can help in keeping the water clean, also adding a little current into it. Cork background on the inner back of the tank will also add an aesthetic appeal to the enclosure, giving your pets something to climb on. A few wood branches surfacing on the water, along with some artificial vines, and leafy items help in providing security and shelter when they are out of the water. 

Temperature

It is a common practice among keepers to keep Vietnamese mossy frogs at room temperature. It is suggested to prepare a cage with temperatures ranging between 65 to 75 degrees. The occasional temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit is fine, as their natural habitat is also cool. On the other side of the temperature scale, temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit can be dangerous, even resulting in stress and death. 

Humidity

The recommended humidity level inside the cage is between 60 to 90%. Since these frogs are semi-aquatic, a portion of their tank will be filled with water, adding to the humidity inside. This alone, however, will not be able to keep the humidity high enough. For this, it is recommended to mist the cage about two to three times every week. 

There are also some substrates that can be added to help in retaining moisture inside the cage. Another option to consider is covering a part of the screen lid using a piece of glass or a sheet of plastic which can cover about 75% of the surface of the tank. You may also want to set in place automatic misting, or even a rainforest dripper system.

Substrate

It is fairly easy to choose a substrate for your mossy frogs. Because they are known to be semi-aquatic, they need both water and land. Some opt to fill their enclosure with two to four inches of water and adding natural cork bark surrounding the cage. This will provide them with places where they can hide while creating a dry, and land-like area where they can climb and sit. 

You may also want to consider adding hard-scape items, such as medium-sized gravel and rocks. When coming up with a vivarium with live plants, you may need to prepare a soil-mixture substrate. If you plan to take this route, it is recommended to do your research first. Avoid using soggy soil, which is not drained properly as it can cause issues and problems for your frogs and plants. 

Lighting

As mentioned earlier, Vietnamese mossy frogs do not need a special kind of lighting. However, you will still need lighting if you add live plants in the cage. There are commercially available red or blue night lights, which can be turned on at night to watch your pets while they are most active. Make sure, though, that these lights are not confused with heat lamps.

Feeding and Diet

Vietnamese Mossy Frogs are classified as nocturnal insectivores, which means that their food mainly consists of insects, such as worms, crickets, roaches, as well as other invertebrates that are found in the wild. Since they are nocturnal, eating usually happens at night, as this is the time when they are the most active.

It is highly recommended to replicate their natural environment while feeding as much as possible. Even though it is virtually impossible to feed your frog’s all different types of insects that they usually eat in the wild, it is possible to feed them with crickets that are dusted with some vitamin and mineral supplements. 

To make your frogs happy, feed them at night. It is even recommended to turn the lights out and wait for about 10 to 15 minutes. Depending on your preference, you can place their food inside their cage just before turning the lights off. You may also dust the crickets using low-D3 calcium supplements in every feeding. They need to be fed about three times a week, with as many crickets as they can in one meal.

Feed your frogs crickets that are appropriately sized, preferably dusted with vitamin and mineral powder supplements in order to keep them healthy. It is also recommended to feed your frogs with crickets that are of appropriate sizes in comparison to their age and size. 

The way to feed your Vietnamese Mossy Frogs can be tricky, depending on your selected tank setup. Because a part of their tank is water, make sure that the crickets do not jump in the water as they can die. This means less food for your pets. Owners of mossy frogs recommend putting the crickets in a plastic bowl, with a size that is enough for them to stay inside and not jump out. 

Quality of Water

Vietnamese Mossy Frogs survive living in tannin-rich water that is also high in organics. Note that water that is too clean may be harmful to your pets, but it is also not safe for them to allow their water to get too dirty. It is recommended to use safe and dechlorinated water. Regular tap water, for example, is harmful to frogs. 

A partial water change once every two weeks is a recommendation as well. Some keepers add Indian almond tree, oak or magnolia leaves. In the wild, these frogs live in bodies of water with tree roots, soil, as well as other organic components, are present. The leaves from trees fall into the water and decompose, thus releasing beneficial tannins right into the water. This helps in lowering the pH while turning the water into yellow, murky, or brown color. As an alternative option, blackwater extract can also be used. They can be purchased at a local pet store or through online sources. 

If you have no other option but to use tap water, there are some things that you can do to make the water safe for your pets. You can let the water sit for around 24 hours, allowing it to dechlorinate. You can also add water conditioners such as Reptisafe. 

Live Plants

Before introducing live plants inside the tank of your frogs, it’s very important to rinse the plants using dechlorinated water in order to remove any unwanted contaminants. Be attentive to the size of your tank in comparison to the size of the plants that you are planning to add. It is recommended to add live plants that are small and grow slowly because it helps in reducing the maintenance efforts required. 

Since Vietnamese Mossy Frogs need both water and land, a lot of keepers choose to create a naturalistic cage setup, filled with moss, live plants, and fish. It is very important to consider the needs of your pets first and build around those requirements. 

Among the plants that you can add include live moss, peace lily, and golden pothos. Live Moss can be added, especially since this species is named after it. However, it should be noted that moss may tend to be challenging to keep alive good drainage for your moss on a substrate can help. One of the best options on live moss is pillow moss. 

A peace lily is also a good option, as the leaves look generic. The roots are also attractive, as it helps in creating that look of a shoreline terrarium with roots that stretch out into the water. Golden Pothos can also be a good choice, as it is a common plant that is common for terrariums. It is actually a vine that is planted directly into the background but may also be planted directly into the substrate. 

You may also want to introduce some peaceful, small fishes that can fit right into your paludarium. Among the favorites include tetras, zebra danios, as well as white cloud mountain minnows. 

Reproduction

In the United States, captive breeding of this species is becoming more and more popular. Unfortunately, there are not many breeders of these frogs yet. As such, purchasing them can be difficult, as the prices can be unreasonably high. 

One reason for this is because of the male to female egg ratio. Even in the best conditions, a usual ratio of 1 female to 4 males is quite common. There is no doubt that temperature plays a huge role in this regard. It is even suggested that tadpoles which were raised in water with lower temperature, that is, about 60 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in yielding more females, compared with tadpoles which were kept in water at room temperature. As mentioned, the results are about 25% of females and 75% males. Tadpoles that are raised at room temperature water result in almost all male frogs. 

Breeding

In captivity, the environment year-round does not change, which is why you cannot easily regulate when the frogs start to mate. One thing is sure; however, the success rate of breeding these frogs increases the moment a female is provided with multiple male mates to select from. Introducing 2 to 3 males to 1 female is optimal. 

One good indicator that your Vietnamese mossy frogs are prepared to mate is when you start hearing them calling. This usually happens early at night, and just before dawn breaks. As the frogs begin mating, you can observe them moving around their housing in the “amplexus” position. This is a position wherein a male frog hugs the female using his front legs. 

The male frogs fertilize their eggs outside their body as they enter the female’s cloacae. This usually takes 24 hours to complete. The fertilized eggs are then laid right above the water surface, usually in holes or cracks along with cork barks or other features. They fall into the water eventually, and the tadpoles will start to develop in a period of 14 to 21 days. 

Vietnamese mossy frogs usually breed in rock cavities. In these places, water usually floods on the floor. A clutch of 8 to 10 eggs is usually deposited above the water surface in order to protect them mostly from aquatic predators. The eggs usually hatch about 7 to 14 days. The newly hatched tadpoles usually drop directly into the water below them. The complete metamorphosis from tadpole to full-grown frog takes around three months. Because of this easy transition, frog enthusiasts have decided to breed them in captivity, with the purpose of supplying the demand in the pet trade.

Caring for Froglets and Tadpoles

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There are a number of ways to care for froglets and tadpoles. One way is to start even before the tadpoles become developed fully, that is, during the egg stage. Remove the egg stage and place them in a dish with a small amount of water. Water will be absorbed by the eggs, and they eventually break free and start swimming as tadpoles. 

Another method is to leave the eggs inside the cage of their parents, allowing them to stay there for about two to four weeks before removing them out of the enclosure. When they reach the tadpole phase, it is usually recommended to separate them into smaller groups of 6 to 8 in every container. Every container should be filled with 2 inches of water, preferably dechlorinated. 

Some keepers add an Indian almond leaf as it is observed to balance the pH level of the water, while also doubling up as shelter to the frogs. You can start feeding the tadpoles with a mix of dried spirulina, chlorella algae, and crushed crickets. 

Keep the temperature of the water within the 60 degrees range, making sure to do partial water changes around 1 to 2 times a week. The transition that you observe from tadpoles to frogs may vary, highly depending on the number of tadpoles living in every container. 

It has been reported that there is less time for the tadpoles when they are housed separately. This is in contrast with keeping them in groups. After four to six months, your little froglets start to emerge. When this happens, a small land area needs to be added inside its container. 

As the froglets continue to grow, they should also be upgraded to ensure that they are comfortable and healthy. As froglets, a shoebox is enough. You can also begin feeding the froglets with small crickets that are dusted with calcium and vitamin supplements. The froglets can start eating 2 or 3 small crickets. Before you remove any leftover crickets, give your froglets a couple of hours to finish eating. 

After a period of about six months, your young mossy frogs will have already grown to around 2 inches in length. At this point, they can be transferred to their full-sized cage. Note that Vietnamese Mossy Frogs are quite sensitive to being held, which is why care should be properly taken into consideration.

In general, Vietnamese Mossy Frogs are considered as pets for display. This means that they are not that favorable to being held. In fact, handling them may even stress the frog, which usually results in a decline in their health. With this said, handling your frog, just like when transferring them from one cage to another, is quite fine. 

Note that mossy frogs are reputed for being jumpy. Therefore, to avoid a possible long fall, make sure that your pet does not hop out of your hands.

Interesting Facts About Vietnamese Mossy Frogs

Here are some interesting facts about the Vietnamese Mossy Frogs:

  • Vietnamese mossy frogs are skilled tree climbers, thanks to their sticky toe pads. 
  • These frogs have amazing visions because of their large eyes.
  • They can be found in the northern part of Vietnam. They are also semi-aquatic, which means that they usually spend most of their time in the water. 
  • They do not have a hard palate in their mouths. As such, they do not swallow their food but force it in using it with the assistance of their eyes. 
  • When these frogs want to pull their food in, they pull their eyes to the roof of their mouth, thus pushing the food inside. 
  • Unlike other frogs, mossy frogs do not lay their eggs in ponds or rivers but attach them to floating vegetation or stones. 

Where to Get Vietnamese Mossy Frogs

These Vietnamese Mossy Frogs are available from local breeders, or from specialized pet stores, whether locally, or online. They may also be available at reptile shows. Mossy frogs are usually imported and, thus, expected to be expensive. There are those that are sold for over $300 each. These days, with prices becoming more stable due to availability, mossy frogs are readily available and are captive-bred. 

FAQ Section

What temperature is dangerous for Vietnamese Mossy Frogs?

Temperatures that are above 80 degrees Fahrenheit are dangerous for Vietnamese Mossy Frogs. Just like most frogs, they find a humidity range of 70 to 100 percent as ideal, though they can still tolerate humidity at 50% for a short period of time if they have access to water. Note that low humidity levels can also be fatal to these frogs. 

What do Vietnamese Mossy Frogs eat?

Mossy Frogs typically hunt large insects such as cockroaches and crickets. In captivity, they usually eat a diet of crickets, earthworms, and cockroaches. 

Is it safe to use tap water for the housing of your Vietnamese Mossy Frogs?

Tap water is usually filed with chlorine, which is dangerous to your pet. To keep water safe for your pet, use dechlorinated water, and partial-change water once every other week. Other options can also include using a tannin-rich organic such as Indian leaves. 

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