What Kind of Substrate Can You Use for Pet Frogs?

I have worked at an exotic pet store, in a zoo, and at an exotic veterinary clinic, so I can assure you that frogs need specific substrate depending on the species.

I have a lot of experience caring for pet frogs and here are my recommendations for substrates you can use for pet frogs:

Soils and soil mixes, mosses, and other jungle mix substrates are appropriate for terrestrial pet frog species. Gravel or sinking sand are appropriate for aquatic frog species. Soil, Sphagnum Moss, and Eco Carpet are great for arboreal frog species.

Having the correct substrate is essential for the health of your pet frog as it should retain humidity and allow for natural behaviors such as digging. 

SpeciesSubstrate AppropriateReason
TerrestrialSoil Yes Retains humidity, allows for burrowing 
Coco fiber Yes Allows for burrowing 
TerrestrialSphagnum Moss YesIncreases humidity, needs to be mixed with other substrates
TerrestrialAspen Bedding No Strictly wood shavings are not suitable
TerrestrialPaper Bedding No Not appropriate for amphibians
TerrestrialGravel No Does not retain humidity
TerrestrialEco Carpet No Does not allow for burrowing 
TerrestrialExcavator YesAllows for tunnels and burrowing 
TerrestrialMiracle-GroNo Contains fertilizers meant for plants 
Arboreal Soil Yes Retains humidity
Arboreal Eco Carpet Yes Easy to wash 
Arboreal Sphagnum Moss Yes Retain humidity 
Arboreal Gravel /
YesProvides a new texture
Provides a place to rest
Used as a top of a layer of soil
AquaticReptisand Yes Sits on the bottom of glass aquarium
Aquatic Gravel Yes Lines the bottom of glass aquarium

Working at an exotic pet store helped me learn the tools needed to send home happy, healthy frogs.

We sent home many different types of frogs, from arboreal frogs that lived higher up, to terrestrial frogs that loved to dig, to fully aquatic species. 

One thing is for certain, correct husbandry is the key to having a healthy, long-living pet frog.

So let’s dive into my top recommendations when it comes to substrate.

Eco Earth – ZooMed 

Eco Earth is a wonderful substrate produced by the reptile product company ZooMed.

It comes in a loose bagged form, or a compressed brick that expands when soaked in water. 

Zoo Med Eco Earth Compressed Coconut Fiber Substrate, 9 Bricks
  • Ideal for naturalistic terrarium type set-ups incorporating reptiles, amphibians, or…
  • Use it damp for tropical species as it naturally absorbs and breaks down odor and waste…

Eco Earth is made from coconut husks, making it a natural and eco-friendly product.

It can also be safely used with live plants and in bioactive enclosures.

It sits on top of the drainage layer and allows water and waste to drain out. 

Many pet enthusiasts and zoo facilities prefer Eco Earth as it is natural and provides that natural-looking enclosure that resembles the frog’s wild home.

It can be used dry for many non-amphibian species, such as tarantulas. 

Soaking the brick before use not only allows it to expand, but allows it to start in the tank with lots of humidity already! 

This is the substrate I use for my frogs, and two of the zoo/animal care facilities I have been employed with have used.

It is easy to use, store, and obtain as it is readily used by many in the pet industry. 

Depending on the size of the enclosure and how thick a burrowing layer is needed, I used to get the dry brick, put it in the glass tank, and pour water around it to break up and absorb it. 

Every day I would spot clean the enclosure and check the moisture level of the enclosure and mist with treated water.

The substrate should not be soaking wet, but should be damp to the touch. If it is too dry try misting more frequently or splashing some water in to re-wet the substrate. 

Zoomed is great for:

This is my top choice in terms of frog substrate. It has been my favorite to use, and it can be used for other reptile species if you have any!

It is safe, easy, and versatile. Remember to change the bedding out and clean the enclosure every month or so. 

Jungle Mix – Zilla 

Jungle Mix by Zilla, another reptile product company, is another appropriate choice for frog species.

It is a blend of natural forest substrates, such as fir and sphagnum, that is soft for use and allows for burrowing. 

Zilla Pet Reptile Terrarium Substrate Bedding, Bark Blend, for Chameleons, Frogs, Snakes,…
  • Promotes transfer of heat and moisture inside the enclosure
  • 100% organic, made from natural bark
  • Oven dried to eliminate pests
  • Ideal bedding depth in enclosure is 1 to 2-inches, remove and replace bedding as needed
  • Ideal for chameleons, frogs, snakes, skinks and rainforest geckos

Jungle Mix retains high amounts of humidity, perfect for any amphibian! It comes in a loose bag that you can dump into the enclosure when ready for use. 

Now, while the mix does promote digging and burrowing, it is recommended to have the substrate layer between 1-2 inches thick. 

Great for:

This would be my second recommendation for frog enclosures.

It is an appropriate substrate to use, especially when misting daily and following monthly cleaning procedures. 

Sphagnum Moss 

Sphagnum moss is rarely ideal on its own.

It is typically mixed with a soil substrate or clumped in a corner and misted heavier. 

Zoo Med Laboratories SZMCF25 New Zealand Sphagnum Moss, .33-Pound,Black
  • Holds more water and stays moist longer than any other type of moss.
  • Natural compounds in moss prevent it from decomposing in humid environments.
  • Excellent top substrate for Zoo Meds Naturalistic Terrariums.
  • All natural green” product”

Moss retains humidity extremely well, but it dries out too. I have to mist my moss daily for my snake’s humidity boxes.

Remember, we want it damp, not soaking wet. Soaking moss can promote respiratory problems or mold growth. 

I mix sphagnum moss with my soil substrate and use it to line the bottom of the enclosure.

Being mixed allows it to provide increased humidity through the enclosure as a while. 

The most important factor to having an appropriate frog substrate is one that will retain humidity and moisture.

Remember, frogs are amphibians that require their skin to be moist to allow for respiration. 

Frog Substrate Tips

Substrates should never be soaking wet as this can lead to mold growth which can cause health concerns with your pet frog.

Frogs enjoy to burrow and should be allowed a thick enough substrate layer in order to do so. 

Providing plenty of hides and fake (or real, if doing bioactive) plants help provide cover for the frog.

Use treated water that is changed every day or every other day to provide the best husbandry possible.

Remember to mist your frog enclosure daily and bring it to an exotic veterinarian with any concerns. 

This article was written by Melissa M. who holds a Bachelors of Science in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, and a Master Herpetologist certificate. The article was edited and published by Daniella, Master Herpetologist in the author profile below.


Eco Earth® coconut fiber substrate. Zoo Med Laboratories, Inc. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://zoomed.com/eco-earth-coconut-fiber-substrate/ 

Jungle Mix: Bedding. Zilla. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.zillarules.com/all-products/bedding/jungle-mix 

Daniella Master Herpetologist

Daniella is a Master Herpetologist and the founder of toadsnfrogs.com, a website dedicated to educating the general population on frogs by meeting them where they are in their online Google Search. Daniella is passionate about frogs and put her digital marketing skills and teaching experience to good use by creating these helpful resources to encourage better education, understanding, and care for frogs.