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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
to Amphibian Information Index