Foliage For Indoor Frogs

Frogs are one of the more common classroom pets because they are quite easy to care for and they look very cool. Growing frogs is a great way for science teachers to teach kids about metamorphosis because they can use the frog as example for this process. Frogs at first are tadpoles and then they turn into an adult frog. But there are a few things that you should know if you are thinking about raising a frog in a classroom or in other indoor spaces. One of the most important things being what type of foliage to use for the frogs as that can determine how the frogs feel in their classroom terrarium because plants provide the frogs with cover as well as help with the oxygen production in the vivarium. This foliage will be different based on what type of frog you have – an aquatic, semi-aquatic, terrestrial or arboreal (climbing or tree) frog.


Foliage for aquatic frogs
Because aquatic frogs tend to spend most of their life underwater these frogs will require to live in vivarium where there is a lot of water which means that you will have to have aquatic plants too, because regular land plants won’t be able to survive in the water or in a place where it is very moist and wet. Common plants that grow and feel well in aquatic environments are Anubias species plants, which are very durable aquatic plants; Pothos Plants and Philodendron that are long vine type plants that will nicely cover your aquatic terrariums wall; Cryptocoryne wendtii, which are tall plants with heavy foliage; as well as Anacharis plants that the frogs can use to hide among and other similar plants. But for classroom purposes you can also make a biotope aquatic tank meaning that you place all of the same plants that can be found in the natural habitat of the frog species that you have in your terrarium.

Foliage for semi-aquatic frogs
Semi-aquatic frogs are called that because they spend half of their time in the water and half on land and they need appropriate tanks with 50% of the tank being water but and the rest being land. This also means that in a vivarium for these types of frogs you can combine aquatic plants and also non-aquatic plants. Just keep in mind that these non-aquatic plants too should favor a moist environment and soil so don’t place plants that prefer dry conditions in a semi-aquatic tank. For the water portion of the terrarium you can again use the same aquatic plants that I mentioned previously, but for the land portion of the tank you can use plants like Bromeliads that will adapt to basically any environment, as well as Ferns that are high humidity plants and other plants that can stand humidity and their roots being constantly wet.

Foliage for arboreal (tree) frogs
Then there are so called arboreal or tree frogs that need a lot of climbing space meaning that their vivarium too needs to have taller plants with climbing potential. Great plants for frogs of this type are Philodendrons that grow really fast and in basically any conditions; Wandering Jews that also are quick growing plants; plants called “Golden Pothos” that is adaptable and an easy growing plant; Aglaonema genus plants that can reach up to 3 feet, as well as Marcgravia or Shingle Plant that has fat leaves and tends to climb on other surfaces; and a plant by the name of “Silver Skies” that also grows fast and has big leaves.

Foliage for terrestrial frogs
Lastly, there are quite a lot of frogs that are categorized as terrestrial or land frogs. For these types of frogs you can create a vivarium that is quite similar to one that I described for arboreal plants. However, in the terrestrial frog case they don’t need the height of the plants but rather they need bigger and longer spaces that are heavily clad with foliage because these frogs need places to hide and they are not able to climb the plants like tree frogs can. For terrestrial frog tanks you can use plants like Peperomia and Pilea plants, both are plants with many different species that are all good for terrariums, as well as Orchids because they don’t like wet places and other house plants or land plants.
One thing to keep in mind with terrariums and plants though is the light that they get because for any plant to grow they need light for photosynthesis to happen. The more light plants get the faster they grow, so make sure that in the classroom the frogs are placed in a spot where it gets natural lighting. An alternative of course, which in many cases might be even better than natural light, is to install t5 grow lights or any other similar artificial lights above your terrarium, because with these artificial lights the plants as well as the frogs will get the light and heat they need and you will be able to control the conditions in the terrarium so that they are just perfect for the species of frogs you have.


*** Guest post: My name is Ben Thorton and I am the owner and editor of T5fixtures.com. My passion is all things related to plants and plant growing and I consider myself an expert in this field, which is why I love to share my passion with others to help them be successful in gardening and plant growing too.


Winter is Coming: How Do Frogs Avoid Freezing?

Yesterday while shopping at the mall, I noticed that some stores had already begun putting up holiday decorations. The racks were filled with sweaters and down coats. We humans (at least in the northeast U.S.) are preparing for winter. But what about our amphibian friends? How do they prepare for winter? After all, frogs would seem vulnerable to extreme cold with their thin skins and their need to constantly stay moist.

Actually, we don’t need to worry about the frogs. They are well-equipped to deal with the cold weather, even with Arctic temperatures.

Frogs are ectothermic, which means that they rely on their environment to regulate their body temperature. Birds and mammals, including humans, are endotherms. We generate heat chemically and internally by breaking down food. The bodies of ectotherms reflect the air, ground, and water temperatures around them. One advantage that ectotherms have over mammals is that they can survive for long periods without eating.

In the fall, frogs first need to find a place to make their winter home, a living space called a hibernaculum that will protect them from weather extremes and from predators. The frog then “sleeps” away the winter by slowing down its metabolism. When spring arrives, it wakes up and leaves the hibernaculum, immediately ready for mating and eating.

Aquatic frogs and toads such as the leopard frog and American bullfrog usually hibernate underwater in streambeds or on pond bottoms. Because aquatic frogs need oxygen, they lie just above the mud, or only partially buried in the mud, so they are near the oxygen-rich water. They may even occasionally slowly swim around.

Terrestrial frogs and toads typically hibernate on land. Those frogs and toads that are good diggers like the American toads burrow deep into the soil, safely below the frost line. Other frogs, such as the wood frog and the spring peeper, aren’t good diggers and so must scout out their winter homes in deep cracks and crevices in logs or rocks, or they might dig down into the leaf litter.

These frozen peepers and wood frogs might look dead; their hearts have actually stopped beating. But the partially frozen frogs aren’t dead. Instead, they have a kind of natural anti-freeze in their bodies. Ice crystals form in their organs and body cavity, but a high concentration of glucose in the frogs’ vital organs prevents freezing. When spring approaches and its hibernaculum warms up above freezing, a frog’s frozen body will thaw, and it will come back to life.

As you go about preparing for winter, think of the frogs with their amazing adaptations for survival, safe in their winter homes, waiting for spring.

Here’s a video from YouTube about the hibernation of a wood frog. It’s pretty amazing—take a look!

This is a partial repost of an earlier post from December 2010. Most of the information from the post came from an article in Scientific American, How Do Frogs Survive the Winter? by Rick Emmer.