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Can I Hold My African Dwarf Frog & Play With It?

Lindsey Stanton Profile Picture

By Lindsey Stanton

african dwarf frog swimming

African dwarf frogs certainly look very cool, they’re interesting to watch, and quite captivating too. As is the case with most pets, we want to touch, hold, and pet them. So, can I hold my African dwarf frog? The unfortunate answer here is no. African dwarf frogs are very delicate and can get injured extremely easily if not handled with the utmost caution. These pets are meant for looking at, but not really for touching. Let’s take a closer look.

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Can You Touch An African Dwarf Frog?

Unfortunately no, it’s actually recommended that you don’t remove African dwarf frogs from the tank, hold them, or pet them in any way. If you do need to handle them, you need to be extremely careful. The frogs are extremely delicate and fragile. If you hold them wrong or tug a little too hard, you can easily snap their bones.

Moreover, these are very small amphibians, which means that their skin needs to be kept wet. Having African dwarf frogs out of the water for more than 10 minutes will cause them to dehydrate, which will cause internal organ failure, and then death. African dwarf frogs are strictly meant for being looked at, not handled. Even the oils on your hands can hurt the African dwarf frogs.

A Note On Salmonella

Another reason why touching your African dwarf frogs is not recommended is due to Salmonella. It is a bacteria that can cause serious illness and even death in extreme cases. Although not all African dwarf frogs will carry the bacteria, there is no way to tell by looking at them. If you for any reason touch the frog, wash your hands very thoroughly afterward, especially before touching your face.

African dwarf frog hopping
Image Credit: Charlie Tyack, Shutterstock

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The 3 Ways To Play With African Dwarf Frogs

Now, although you are not supposed to pick up African dwarf frogs or handle them much, you can still play with them. Here are some neat ways you can play with your African dwarf frog.

1. Teaching It to Jump

One thing you can do, which is kind of like playing, is to teach your African dwarf frogs to jump. Take a bit of food or a small treat and place it in the front of a turkey baster. A frozen bloodworm sticking out the end of a turkey baster works great. Hold the tip of the baster about 1.5 inches above the frog’s head, but be sure that your frog never has to jump out of the water, as it should always be fully submerged.

Sway the baster back and forth in the water to get the frog’s attention and spread the scent of the food around. Your frog should notice the food and seeing as frogs will usually always eat, it should jump for the food. If it does not, be patient and wait. If it still does not jump up for the food after a couple of minutes, try lowering the baster down a little closer to the frog, as it might be too high up.

Just repeat this day after day, and the frog should quickly learn what is going on. Keep in mind that African dwarf frogs are strong jumpers, so ensure that you do not cause the frog to jump out of the water, as it may get injured.

2. Follow Your Finger

Another thing that you can do to play with your frog, well, kind of anyway, is to get your frog to follow your finger. First, always wash your hands thoroughly before doing this. Use soap and warm water, and wash your digits thoroughly.

Be sure to rinse your hands off for at least a minute to get rid of any soapy residue, as this can be poisonous for frogs. Never handle African dwarf frogs with bare hands without washing them. They are so fragile that even just the oils on your hands can hurt them. Now, take some of your frog’s favorite food and place it on your finger. You need to use enough food so that the African dwarf frog can see it. Remember that the little critters actually have horrible eyesight, and if you don’t use enough food, they probably won’t see it.

Get your finger close to the tank and start slowly tracing some random patterns in the air to your African dwarf frog’s attention. Remember to keep your finger as close to the tank as possible, because these frogs really cannot see well. If you think that live food may work better, you can use tweezers to hold a fly or a worm and wave that around. On a side note, don’t actually touch your finger to the glass, or else you’ll end up smearing food on it, and that certainly is not fun to clean up.

The frog should follow your finger. Let it follow your finger for a couple of minutes, and when it does, give it the food. After you have done this a few times, the frog should start to follow your finger all on its own.

african dwarf frog in tank
Image Credit: Charlie Tyack, Shutterstock

3. Chase The String

You can also get your African dwarf frog to chase a string with some food on it. Yes, food is really the only way to play with these little guys. Take a long string, twine, or fishing line, and tie it securely around some food. You can try using live food, but it won’t be easy to tie a string around a wriggling worm. Of course, never use a fish hook. Take this and dangle it in the water, about halfway down the aquarium. Wave it around a little bit to get the frog’s attention.

Keep moving the food from one corner to another and let the frog chase it around. After a few minutes, take the food off the string and give it to the frog. If the frog happens to catch the string, just gently pull on it or very gently remove the frog from the water for a few seconds. It should let go instinctively. After a while, African dwarf frogs will learn to follow the string even without food on it.

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Final Thoughts

As you can see, playing with African dwarf frogs involves enticing them with food in one way or another. Remember, these are not dogs that can be picked up, held, and petted. They are “look at me” pets, not to be handled. Sure, you can play with them a bit, and you might even have some fun too.

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Image Credit: Charlie Tyack, Shutterstock

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