White-Lipped Tree Frog (Litoria infrafrenata), also known as the Giant Tree Frog
Popularity: Make good pets, but they are better observed than handled.
Origin: Australia, New Guinea, and Indonesia
Native habitat: rainforest
Size: 3-5 inches
Lifespan: 10 years or more
Appearance: The White-Lipped Tree Frog is the world’s largest tree frog. Females are larger than males. They are named for the distinctive cream or white stripe that runs along its lower lip. This frog is usually bright green, but it can change colors to reddish brown, olive, deeper greens and even pink. The underside is white. The hind feet are webbed; the front feet are partially webbed. There are white stripes on the trailing edges of the lower leg, which may turn pink in the breeding male.
Defense Mechanisms: When disturbed, a White-Lipped Tree Frog will make a meow-like sound. Conversely, its mating call is suggestive of a dog barking. Males will wrestle one another to assert their dominance. Glandular secretions cover the skin to keep it moist and deter predators.
Activity: arboreal, nocturnal
Misc characteristics: These sociable frogs do well in groups.
White-Lipped Tree Frogs need an enclosure that offers opportunities to climb. Their enclosures should have more height than width. A 30-gallon aquarium tank is the minimal acceptable size for two adults — 40-gallons for four adults. Use a secure screen top to prevent escapes and provide ventilation.
Choose furnishings you can easily clean, as these frogs are messy. Climbing branches and hiding areas are essential. Branches should be as wide as the diameter of the frog’s body. You can use cork and logs to create hiding areas. Live or artificial plants also work well. Monstera, philodendron and other nontoxic sturdy broad-leafed potted plants are good because they can support a large frog.
White-Lipped Tree Frogs make a mess, so select a disposable substrate such as unprinted paper or one you can clean easily. Natural bark, coconut fiber or peat moss is acceptable. Avoid aromatic wood substrates, which cause health risks. Inspect and clean the substrate daily. Do not use reptile carpet substrate because the rough surface can irritate the frog’s skin.
A White-Lipped Tree Frog likes things warmer than many other tree frogs. Keep the temperature at 80-85º F. during the day and in the 70s at night. Place the heat source to one side of the enclosure rather than the middle. This will allow the frog to move to regulate body temperature. Be sure that climbing branches at different heights cover the width of the tank, since this will also aid in providing the frog with a thermal gradient. Never guess the temperature. Place two thermometers in the enclosure at branch level where the frog spends most of its time. Place one thermometer near the heat source and the other in a cooler section of the tank.
A 12-hour on/off light cycle is essential to the health of the nocturnal White-Lipped Tree Frog. Too much light exposure is harmful to its well-being. It must get UVB rays every day. You can provide this with a fluorescent lamp designed specifically for a terrarium — one that emits light in the 300-400nm range. Glass blocks out UVB light, so keep overhead light sources behind a wire mesh cover, not a glass or acrylic top. To avoid overheating and dehydration, never expose the frog to direct sunlight.
Water and Humidity
These frogs require a humidity of around 50-percent. Use a hygrometer to measure humidity levels. You can maintain the level by misting the frog daily with chlorine-free water and keeping a large bowl of the same in the enclosure. Keep part of the enclosure dry as a drying area for the frog. The water in the bowl should be shallow and there should be a way for the frog to get out of the bowl. The water level should be just deep enough to cover the front legs of the frog when they are folded at rest. This will prevent drowning if the frog falls asleep in the water.
White-Lipped Tree Frogs accept a wide variety of insects. Commercially available crickets, roaches, super mealworms, trevo-worms and flies are acceptable feeders. Insects should be gut loaded and dusted with a supplement for 48 hours before being offered. You can offer a pinkie mouse once a month, but no more because of its high fat content. Feed an adult frog every other day, offering 18-24 crickets per meal. Feed juveniles about six crickets every day or two. Monitor the body condition and weight of the frog to determine if feeding needs to be more or less often. Provide calcium and vitamin supplements as part of the diet.
Clean and re-soiled plants acquired from nurseries to remove toxic fertilizers. Take potted plants out of the enclosure whenever you clean it and wash their leaves with chlorine-free water. Also, remove waste from the topsoil of potted plants. Replace the top two inches of this soil monthly. Be sure to guard against the frog rubbing against the bottom of the enclosure by placing colored paper on the other side of the glass in the area where it rubs.