I love amphibians, especially frogs. I’ve worked in pet stores finding frogs new homes with the proper care and setups. And right now I work as a zookeeper and at an exotic veterinary clinic.
I’ve owned frogs and love hearing them in my family’s pond during the summer! I want everyone who either has them as pets or in their backyard to know how to keep them cared for.
Ferns, bromeliads, philodendrons are good and safe for pet frogs in small enclosures such as vivariums. Water lilies and Bird’s Nest Fern are appropriate for outdoor frogs. However, vines an ivys, cacti, and certain fragrant plant species can be toxic to frogs.
We’ll name a few examples of live plant species that would be well suited for indoor habitats for pet frogs. We’ll also talk about some plants suitable for wild frogs that live outside.
Maybe you have a pond or small water feature that they may frequent. Whichever lifestyle your froggy friend leads, we’ll make sure it’s a healthy one.
Plants That Are Safe For Pet Frogs
Plants in a terrarium, an indoor enclosure for small animals, that houses frogs and toads will need to be well suited for conditions of high humidity and moisture.
There are a variety of live plants that are healthy to keep in enclosures with toads and frogs that thrive in warm, wet, and humid conditions.
Bromeliads Are Safe for Frogs
Bromeliads are native to rainforests and rainforest conditions. They retain water, which in turn increases humidity.
Bromeliads are used to growing under the canopy, so they also do well in low light and shade conditions.
Proper root drainage is needed so water doesn’t get bogged down and stagnant, leading to plant disease.
Ferns Are Good for Pet Frogs
Heart Leaf Ferns do not exceed 12 inches in length, making these ferns more suitable for smaller pet terrariums!
They prefer moderate to higher levels of humidity, and also do better in lower light or shade conditions. Proper root draining conditions are needed for these plants.
Philodendrons Make Good Plant Choices for Frogs
These plants come in a variety of sizes, from small leafed to broad leafed. Broad leaves provide great cover for your frog or toads, and are also good for tree frogs to climb on and rest.
The smaller leafed philodendrons still provide cover as their leaves can reach a length of 4 inches. They all do well in moderate humidity and prefer to grow in shady light conditions.
Plants That are Appropriate for Outdoor Frogs
Plants used in aquatic environments should also meet the needs of frogs.
Outdoor water features and ponds attract frogs and other amphibians who may visit or find home in. Outdoor plants should provide shelter and hiding places as well as be able to support the weight of visiting frogs. Make sure they can get in and out of the water feature easily!
Natural or man-made ponds and outdoor water features typically attract a lot of frog visitors but differ a lot in their size, depth, and structure. Natural ponds tend to have more algae on the surface and roots along the edges to provide shelter and foot-holds to enter and exit the pond.
Water features can include aquatic gardens and tub ponds, which can be tricky for frogs since their edges are steep and provide little to no grip. In this case, sturdy rocks in addition to aquatic plants help create ramps for the frogs to exit freely.
Aquatic water lilies are some of the best outdoor plants for frogs! They have many broad leaves that float on the surface of the water. These leaves provide coverage and allow the frogs to rest on top of the leaf without sinking, and the stem system of the leaves provides coverage in the water for them to hide in between.
When it comes to tree frogs, the Bird’s Nest Fern is a fan of higher humidity levels that can tolerate drought, but prefers moist conditions. It can get pretty large with leaves reaching outwards of 5 feet in length.
They do not require much light and do well in lower light and shade conditions. This fern is indigenous to countries with high amphibian populations, like Madagascar, Asia, and Australia.
Are Poisonous Plants a Problem for Frogs?
Frogs do not eat or digest plants, but there could still be a concern for toxicity that can be absorbed through their skin or accidental ingestion. Follow these guidelines to find safe live plants that are well suited for indoor living.
Plants that are toxic to frogs include:
- Vines an Ivys
- Certain vegetables
- Fragrant species
Some vines and ivys are toxic to frogs, so always make sure to do specific research on plant species before introducing them to your bioactive frog terrarium. Silver vine is an example of a vine that is considered toxic and should be avoided.
Some vegetables in gardens are poisonous to frogs and potatoes, eggplants, and snow peas are best to be planted far from a pond or water feature. For general outdoor landscaping azalea and hydrangea are advised to be avoided. Lemongrass, lavender, and basil repel frogs from yards or water features due to their fragrances and aromas.
A good rule of thumb with cacti is to avoid them. They can be toxic if ingested, and can cause physical harm to the animal based on their spines and pointed leaves. Any plant that produces sap should also be avoided as sap could sit on the skin of the frog and cause physical harm and inhibit respiration by harming the frog’s mucous membrane.
Plants are mainly toxic based on chemicals they can release from their leaves or roots. If a feeder insect were to ingest a poisonous plant’s leaf, and then the frog were to ingest the insect in turn, there is the possibility of poisoning the frog second-hand.
The worry with harmful chemicals is their ability to interrupt the body’s ability to metabolize. Some can bind to minerals and prevent their uptake. This can lead to deficiencies of certain minerals, or build ups in tissues, organs, or muscles.
Always research the plant species before introducing it to your frogs, at home or outside!
This article was written in collaboration with another Master Herpetologist certified by the Amphibian Foundation.
Radzicki McManus, M. (n.d.). Want to host a garden party for frogs? National Wildlife Federation. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from https://nwf.org/Magazines/National-Wildlife/2000/Want-to-Host-a-Garden-Party-for-Frogs
Watkins, J. (n.d.). Enhancing Your Eco-Friendly Garden To Attract Frogs And Toads. Frogs Are Green. Retrieved November 16, 2022, from https://frogsaregreen.org/tag/poisonous-plants-for-amphibians/