So Your Kid Wants a Pet Frog. Here's Everything to Know

To some parents, finding out their kid wants a pet frog may be thrilling. To others, it’s unnerving. As it turns out, frogs (and toads) make great pets. Compared to dogs and cats, they are incredibly low maintenance. There are certainly frogs that require more attention than others, so we rounded up ten frog species that make good pets for kids, as well as everything you need to know about caring for them. These frogs (and toads) require very little upkeep beyond maintaining a specific temperature and humidity, and they tend to be pretty resilient. Our biggest piece of advice: Research the type you buy. Frogs aren’t dogs, but each species has unique needs that must be met.

Note: The CDC doesn’t recommend amphibians or reptiles as pets for kids under the age of 5.

The 11 Best Pet Fish to Start Your Freshwater Aquarium


A good question! Frogs are amphibians. This means they can’t regulate their own body temperatures and start life as water-dwelling creatures. As they mature, they grow legs and lungs to live on land. However, they still need wet habitats. Frogs absorb water and air through their glandular skin. There are roughly 7,000 frog species on the planet, and The Washington Post says 100 of those are native to the United States.


Toads are types of frogs, but not all frogs are toads. Allow us to explain. Both frogs and toads are members of the Anura order, which means they don’t have tails. Frogs have lengthy hind legs (often longer than their bodies) and are slimy and smooth to the touch. Frogs tend to live in or around water. Toads have shorter hind legs and dry skin often covered in bumps and knobs. They happily live on land and don’t need as much water.

Frogs and toads can also be broken down into three basic categories when it comes to habitat: arboreal (tree-dwelling), terrestrial (land-dwelling) and aquatic (water-dwelling).


Kids who want pet frogs should know what they’re signing up for. Frogs are almost always nocturnal. They are pretty boring during the daytime and may croak at night. This makes for an elusive daytime pet who keeps you awake! Frogs are also not fond of being picked up or held. They make excellent pets for kids who want to care for a pet, not cuddle with one. Lizards are better options if your child is eager to hold a tiny pet.


Exotic, wild animals thrive best in their natural habitats. It is not advised to bring a wild frog home to keep as a pet, in part because they could carry infections and in part because they are not equipped to handle the transition to captivity. Plus, it destroys ecosystems.

But, believe it or not, there are frog breeders you can buy from. Look for members of the United States Association of Reptile Keepers to ensure you’re buying from a reputable source. Do not buy from anyone who has captured wild frogs and is attempting to sell them. To ensure a safe, healthy and happy life for a pet frog, you must invest the time and resources into its ideal habitat.

10 Frog Species That Make Good Pets

your kid wants a pet frog african dwarf frog
Smith Collection/Gado/Contributor/Getty Images

1. African Dwarf Frog

Size: 1.25-2 inches long
Color: Gray and black, Olive green
Type: Aquatic
Habitat: 10+-gallon aquarium, 12” tall
Care: Moderate-maintenance
Temperature: 72-80 degrees
Diet: Frog/tadpole pellets, fish food, worms
Life Expectancy: 5 years
Price: $2-$5
Ideal for: Fish lovers

These tiny frogs spend all their time in water, popping up to the surface every now and then for a breath of fresh air. This is why a secure screened aquarium lid is a must! African Dwarf Frogs are moderately difficult to care for because they require daily temperature checks and weekly water quality checks. PetCo says African Dwarf Frogs live peacefully with fish and frogs of the same species. Invest in lots of aquarium decor so your African Dwarf Frog has plenty of hiding places. Finally, it’s best to leave these swimmers alone; they don’t like to be held.

your kid wants a pet frog american green tree frog
ClassicStock/Contributor/Getty Images

2. American Green Tree Frog

Size: 1-2.5 inches long
Color: Bright green
Type: Arboreal
Habitat: Minimum 24”-tall terrarium
Care: Low-maintenance
Temperature: 70-80 degrees
Diet: Crickets
Life Expectancy: 2-6 years
Price: $10
Ideal for: People with vertical space who don’t want to change water

If you go the tree frog route, you’ve got to provide at least two feet of height so these frogs can climb. A terrarium full of branches and tall plants is necessary. Native to the United States, American Green Tree Frogs are pleasing to look at and can be observed throughout the day lounging in their habitats. As tempting as it is to let them climb all over you, they aren’t fond of being handled. Low key yet eager to ascend, American Green Tree Frogs are surprisingly bad swimmers. They love to eat so get ready to feed them loads of crickets.

your kid wants a pet frog american toad
NurPhoto/Contributor/Getty Images

3. American Toad

Size: 3 inches long
Color: Brown
Type: Terrestrial
Habitat: 10-gallon terrarium
Care: Low-Maintenance
Temperature: Room temperature
Diet: Insects, toad pellets
Life Expectancy: 15-20 years
Price: $10
Ideal for: Cost-conscious pet owners

American Toads are land dwellers that live near marshes and wetlands. Providing them with a shallow dish of water and small logs is ideal. Caring for these amphibians is pretty hard to mess up. If you do, and they get stressed out, they’ll turn a greenish yellow color so you know what’s up. They love to burrow, so if you’re not sure where your toad went, look closely. One thing to note: Handling American Toads puts you at risk of coming into contact with bufotoxin, a poison excreted from glands behind a toad’s eyes. It’s not fatal to touch, but can be fatal if ingested.

your kid wants a pet frog gray tree frog
VW Pics/Contributor/Getty Images

4. Gray Tree Frog

Size: 1.25–2.25 inches long
Color: Gray, green
Type: Arboreal
Habitat: 18”-tall terrarium
Care: Moderate maintenance
Temperature: 65-80 degrees
Diet: Insects
Life Expectancy: 7-9 years
Price: $8–$20
Ideal for: Beginners who want a tiny frog (and some pizzazz)

The Gray Tree Frog hails from the U.S. and Canada and thrives in wooded, marshy areas. This means misting a few times a day to ensure ample humidity. The coolest thing about Gray Tree Frogs is they change colors to match their surroundings, almost like chameleons. Nighttime is their favorite time, so expect them to chill out during the day and climb a lot when it gets dark.

your kid wants a pet frog oriental fire bellied toad
Auscape/Contributor/Getty Images

5. Oriental Fire-bellied Toad

Size: 2-3 inches long
Color: Green with red, orange or yellow bellies
Type: Aquatic
Habitat: 10-gallon aquarium (half water, half land)
Care: Moderate maintenance
Temperature: 65-82 degrees
Diet: Insects
Life Expectancy: 10 years
Price: $5-$25
Ideal for: People who want the best of both worlds (land and sea)

Oriental Fire-bellied Toads are technically frogs, but when you see their coloring, you won’t care what they are! These brightly hued amphibians love water and need plenty of it. Fire-bellies are active during the daytime and require a good deal of sunshine. If you can’t place their aquarium near a window, be sure to invest in a 5.0 UVB light. These pets require a little more maintenance because they need their water changed once or twice each week. Avoid picking them up - they’re not huge fans.

your kid wants a pet frog pacman frog aka south american horned frog
Auscape/Contributor/Getty Images

6. Pacman Frog (aka South American Horned Frog)

Size: Up to 8 inches long
Color: Various, often green with brown spots
Type: Terrestrial
Habitat: 10-gallon terrarium

Care: Low maintenance
Temperature: 75-85 degrees
Diet: Insects
Life Expectancy: 7-10 years
Price: $20-$40
Ideal for: Beginners who want a medium-sized frog

Pacman Frogs do indeed look like Pacman when they eat, so they make amusing pets for kids. Slightly larger in size, they like to burrow into the ground. Make sure the substrate is a few inches deep to allow for this. One drawback is they are nocturnal, so daytime entertainment will be limited. Interestingly, Pacman Frogs come in all sorts of colors, including pink! These round creatures prefer life alone (they’ve been known to eat other frogs). Heat is also a friend to the Pacman Frog; you’ll want to keep their terrarium hot and humid.

your kid wants a pet frog pixie frog aka edible bullfrog
Images from BarbAnna/Getty Images

7. Pixie Frog (aka Edible Bullfrog)

Size: 3.5-10 inches long
Color: Olive green
Type: Terrestrial/semi-Aquatic
Habitat: 20-gallon aquarium
Care: Low maintenance
Temperature: 75 degrees
Diet: Large insects, small rodents
Life Expectancy: 20 years
Price: $25-$75
Ideal for: People who want a big frog for a long time

Contrary to everything their name suggests, Pixie Frogs are big. Males can weigh up to two pounds! Females are smaller at just a pound (still big). Native to southern Africa, Pixie Frogs spend a lot of time burrowed into the ground. They prefer a sedentary lifestyle and can be aggressive if they weren’t held or socialized as tiny babies. If you can get one while it’s young and introduce it to being held, it could tolerate playtime every other week or so. However, beware that they may go into what’s called torpor mode, which is basically hibernating in the ground with nothing but their nostrils showing. Everything Reptiles says as long as they are well fed and hydrated, they’ll stay out of torpor.

your kid wants a pet frog south american red belly toad aka bumble bee toad
EzumeImages/Getty Images

8. South American Red-belly Toad (aka Bumble Bee Toad)

Size: 1.5 inches long
Color: Black with yellow spots, red or orange belly
Type: Terrestrial
Habitat: 5-gallon terrarium
Care: Low maintenance
Temperature: 70-75 degrees
Diet: Small insects
Life Expectancy: 10+ years
Price: $60–$90
Ideal for: Beginners with busy schedules

Red-Bellied Toads come from South America and are super straightforward when it comes to care. (Though similar to the Oriental Fire-Bellied Toad, these are technically unique.) FrogPets says these toads require about 15 to 20 minutes of care and attention each week (most of this is feeding time and a weekly terrarium cleaning). They eat small insects like fruit flies and pinhead crickets. Red-Bellies don’t need a whole lot of space, but they do love hiding spots. Be sure to provide a shallow water dish alongside their dry land!

your kid wants a pet frog tomato frog
Krisda Ponchaipulltawee/EyeEm/Getty Images

9. Tomato Frog

Size: 2.5-4 inches long
Color: Red-orange, yellow-orange
Type: Terrestrial
Habitat: 10-20-gallon terrarium
Care: Low maintenance
Temperature: 65-85 degrees
Diet: Insects
Life Expectancy: 8 years
Price: $20-$50
Ideal for: Exotic pet lovers

Any guesses why it’s called the Tomato Frog? These frogs were discovered in Madagascar in the 1800s and make beautiful pets. As nocturnal beings, they tend to be very mellow and reclusive during the day. They live well with other frogs of similar size and adapt easily to multiple habitats; it’s wise to include plenty of space for their burrowing behavior. Handling Tomato Frogs isn’t recommended because it throws them out of whack, and they’ll likely secrete a toxin that could be harmful if ingested.

your kid wants a pet frog white s tree frog
kuritafsheen/Getty Images

10. White’s Tree Frog

Size: 3-4.5 inches long
Color: Silver-green
Type: Arboreal
Habitat: 15-gallon terrarium
Care: Low maintenance
Temperature: 75-85 degrees
Diet: Insects
Life Expectancy: 12-20 years
Price: $35-$80
Ideal for: People who want to hold their pet frog

This frog is fantastic for kids and beginners. Due to their laid-back nature, a White’s Tree Frog can be held fairly often—as long as you are gentle and let the frog lead the way. In the wild, White’s Tree Frogs live in Australia and New Guinea. They enjoy humidity but are actually quite adaptable. They’re known for being friendly with other frogs and with people. While they need ample trees and branches to climb, don’t forget a large shallow bowl of water. White’s Tree Frogs get pricey if you want a more unique coloration, some of which have been bred to have white spots.


All told, it could cost anywhere between $100 and $500 to purchase the supplies necessary for a pet frog. Once you’ve got your gear and have set everything up for your frog’s ideal environment, the hardest part is over. Here are six key points to note when caring for a pet frog:

1. Create an appropriate habitat. Perhaps the most time-consuming and expensive aspect of owning a pet frog is creating its habitat. FrogPets, a website founded by amphibian enthusiast John Wellington, says, “caring for most frogs is as simple as maintaining the correct temperature and humidity, feeding them daily and cleaning their habitat.” Every frog species has its own needs, so do plenty of research before buying—or committing—to anything.

For beginners, Wellington recommends sticking to terrestrial frogs. Aquatic and arboreal frogs can be low- maintenance, but their diets and habitats may be more demanding when it comes to upkeep.

2. Deep clean terrariums and aquariums every two to four weeks. Depending on the species and number of frogs you have. Aquatic frogs will need their water changed every week (sometimes twice).

3. Get the right cleaner. Because frogs literally absorb chemicals and oils into their skin, a frog-friendly cleaner is a must. This also means you can’t use tap water for aquariums or water dishes. ReptiSafe is a popular water conditioner that ensures neutral pH levels and rids water of chlorines. Water filters are also acceptable.

4. Provide adequate substrate. Substrate is the material at the bottom of a frog’s habitat that acts as natural ground. To prevent your frog from eating substrate (which can be fatal), don’t buy anything resembling pebbles. Many frog folks use coco-husk fiber or moss. While placing live plants in with your frog sounds nice, it could prove to be more expensive and a time-waster. Many frogs burrow into the substrate, which often kills live plants. Plus, live plants require a UVB light to ensure they stay alive. Fake plants get the job done and require less work!

5. Give them ample light. Since amphibians can’t regulate body temperature, most species need heat pads or special lighting to maintain certain temperatures (every frog habitat needs a thermometer to monitor temp). Lighting also helps solidify a day and night routine. Frogs rely on a light and dark cycle to know when to sleep, feed and move. Many also require daily mistings to ensure the humidity is high enough.

6. Learn their diets. Frogs eat insects and need to be fed a few times a week. Buying crickets, mealworms, flies, grubs and even—for the big ones—small rodents. Since people can’t provide the variety of insects found in nature, supplements containing additional nutrients need to be sprinkled on these bugs once a week or so to ensure your frog gets proper nutrition.


Sadly, you can’t cuddle your pet frog. You can, however, hold some species without freaking them out. If your kid insists on getting a frog that tolerates being handled, washing hands must be a big deal. Always wash hands before touching the frog to avoid transferring any harmful substances onto its skin. In fact, wearing gloves is preferred. Then, wash hands after putting the frog back, even if you wore gloves. Frogs and toads release toxins that could be harmful if ingested or touched to the eyes. Some carry salmonella.

Everything Reptiles encourages people to be as gentle as possible when holding a frog. Nudge it into a flat palm, rather than plucking it off a branch. Hold it close to the ground in case it jumps or falls.

If you provide optimal care for a frog, some will live more than a decade. Others will thrive and teach kids how to care for a very cool animal.

SAshley Headshot PureWow
Sarah Ashley

Freelance Writer

Sarah Ashley is a Chicago-based freelance journalist. She has covered pets for PureWow for six years and tackles everything from dog training tips to the best litter boxes. Her...
read full bio

img 7241
Stephanie Sengwe

Resident Hufflepuff, Beyonce historian, self-proclaimed tea sommelier

Steph is a native of Zimbabwe who is both enamored and genuinely baffled by the concept of silent letters. From 2020 to 2022, she served as Associate Editor at PureWow covering...
read full bio