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WHICH AMPHIBIAN SHOULD YOU CHOOSE AS A BEGINNER?

The wide range of amphibians might make it difficult to decide which one to start with but some are easy to keep while others are more fragile and require a precisely controlled environment or have a voracious appetite and aggressive nature!

Fire-bellied toads

Fire-bellied toads are bright attractive and interesting amphibians. The common fire-bellied toad (Bombina bomina) is an Asian species with a green and black back and, an underside of gray or black marked with red or orange spots.

Fire Bellied Toad

The oriental fire-bellied toad (Bombina orientalis) is similar but a bit larger (around three inches long) with a brighter red belly. These species can be kept in a vivarium at the sort of temperature maintained in a centrally heated house.

Common frogs

The European tree frog (Hyla arborea) is another good species to keep in a vivarium inside. As the name suggests this frog is arboreal (tree-dwelling) and so likes a tall vivarium with plenty of plants to climb. The green tree frog (Hyla cinerea) is from the United States and is larger and less hardy than its European cousin, needing a warmer environment.

Common FrogThe Leopard frog (Rana pipiens) is an attractive, if not highly colorful frog from North America which would do well inside or outdoors. If keeping this or any other species outside do make sure that they cannot escape since in some countries it is illegal to release non-endemic species into the countryside.

Another North American amphibian worth keeping is the Bullfrog (Rana catesbiena) which can grow to eight inches long. They generally do well outside in summer but need to be hibernated in winter. They have huge appetites and are happy to devour any smaller amphibians you are foolish enough to house with them!

Horned frogs and clawed toads!

Horned toad (Ceratophrys species) are South American land-dwellers. They are large attractive amphibians but are aggressive enough to attack and eat others of their own species if kept together. They are not suitable for beginners.

Horned Frog

The African clawed toad (Xenopus laevis) is entirely aquatic and should be kept in an aquarium, but one with a filtration system and supplementary heating during winter. They can be fed on meat in which case be sure to add adequate minerals and vitamins.

Tropical frogs

White's tree frog (Litoria caerula) is a beautiful species from Australia and New Guinea, thus require a tropical vivarium between 25°C and 30°C with high humidity. For this reason it is not ideal as a starter amphibian.

Poison Arrow FrogThe same can be said for poison arrow frogs (Dendrobates species). These brightly colored tiny expensive frogs from South America need a tropical environment and, as their name suggests, are poisonous with highly toxic skin secretions. They should be kept only by herpetologists with considerable experience of tropical amphibia. Another toxic species is the fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra) which has poisonous secretions from its salivary glands. It should be handled at all times with gloves.

The axolotl

A fascinating species from a biological as well as a visual perspective is the Axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum). This creature lives its whole life as a huge tadpole since it never metamorphoses into the adult salamander it was meant to be!

Axolotl

It even breeds as a larval form and can grow to nine or ten inches long. It should be kept in filtered and well oxygenated water but does not need heating in winter if in a centrally heated house.

In conclusion

Whichever amphibian you want do not just go out and buy one or a pair without first thinking about the environment necessary. Far too many amphibians fare very poorly in captivity because their captive environment does not meet their requirements. Given a little thought and attention amphibians can be fascinating to keep. They amply repay the time and effort you spend making sure they are housed correctly.

Back to Amphibian Information Index




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