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Tomato Frog: Lifespan, Diet, Pictures, and More

Elizabeth Gray

By Elizabeth Gray

Tomato Frog

If you’re looking for a pet of a different color, the Tomato frog might be just the right fit. These large, eye-catching frogs don’t enjoy being handled but are fun to observe, especially when they’re engaged in natural behaviors like hunting or burrowing. Before adding one of these colorful amphibians to your family, check out our guide to the Tomato frog, including information on lifespan, diet, and more!

Size: Up to 4 inches long
Lifespan: 6–10 years
Color: Females: red-orange, males: yellow-orange
Suitable for: Intermediate reptile owners
Temperament: Shy, secretive, doesn’t like to be handled
Diet: Crickets, worms, flukes
Tank Set Up: Soil, moss, or coconut fiber substrate with artificial plants, hiding rocks,
Minimum Tank Size: 10-gallon
Suitable Tank Mates: Other Tomato frogs of similar size and age

The Tomato frog’s striking color is probably the first thing you’ll notice about them. Nestled into a tropical habitat enclosure, the bright red-orange hues of this frog will really pop. As relatively hardy frogs, they don’t need a large enclosure, making them a good option for pet owners with limited space. Keep reading to learn more about the setup and care required to keep a Tomato frog as a pet.

Tomato Frog Breed Characteristics

Energy
Trainability
Health
Lifespan
Sociability

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Tomato Frog Overview

Tomato frogs don’t need a complicated cage setup, but you need to pay careful attention to the temperature and humidity of the enclosure. If you want to keep more than one of these frogs together, plan on doubling the space. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t see much of your Tomato frog. They are secretive by nature and prefer to spend much of their time hiding.

madagascar tomato frog
Image Credit: Krisda Ponchaipulltawee, Shutterstock

Tomato Frog Cost

Tomato frogs are native to Madagascar, where they live in warm, humid rainforests. They are usually available for sale year-round in the United States and are relatively inexpensive. Most Tomato frogs cost $25–$75. Both wild-caught and captive-bred Tomato frogs are usually available. If possible, get a captive-bred frog. They are more likely to be free of disease and parasites and better adapted to captivity.

While this species typically doesn’t like being handled, purchasing a young frog gives you a better chance of taming your pet as much as you can. Young Tomato frogs are yellowish-brown but will brighten to the familiar red and orange hues as they mature.

Tomato frogs are fairly common and usually found at pet stores, reptile shows, and online companies. Use caution purchasing a frog without seeing it because you won’t be able to spot any obvious signs of illness, like skin lesions. Look for a breeder or retailer that offers a health guarantee and have your new pet checked by a reptile vet as soon as possible.

 

Care Guide & Tank Set Up

Before bringing home a Tomato frog, you’ll need somewhere to keep it. Here’s what you need to know about the tank setup and general care guide for the Tomato frog.

Tomato Toad Frog sitting on the grass
Image Credit: Audrey Snider-Bell, Shutterstock

Tank Size

Tomato frogs need a minimum of a 10-gallon tank. Two adult frogs can fit in a tank of this size, but it’s not ideal. If possible, opt for a larger enclosure to give the Tomato frog more room to move around and burrow.

Substrate

Tomato frogs love to burrow and hide in the dirt. This behavior is how they hunt and ambush their prey in the wild. For substrate, choose a material that is loose and light enough for them to burrow. You may want to place a layer of rocks below this substrate for improved drainage.

Soil, moss, or coconut fiber are all good options for Tomato frog substrates. Make sure there are at least 2 inches of the substrate over a drainage layer or the bottom of the tank. Avoid using soil that contains pesticides or fertilizers.

Humidity

Because they are native to humid rainforests, pet Tomato frogs need to live in a moist environment. Always maintain the humidity in their habitat between 60% and 80%. Installing a hygrometer to measure the moisture in the air is the best way to monitor this percentage.

Misting the Tomato frog enclosure every 1–3 days is an easy way to keep the humidity levels high. Choose a substrate that holds moisture, such as moss, and keep the enclosure covered to help trap humidity inside. However, make sure the Tomato frog’s habitat is well-ventilated.

Tomato Frog Side View
Image Credit: katja, Pixabay

Lighting

Although Tomato frogs don’t need UV lights, installing them can help your pet feel more at home and encourage them to perform natural behaviors. You’ll also need UV lights if you grow live plants in your Tomato frog’s habitat. Stick with a low-wattage bulb and ensure the lighting doesn’t overheat the habitat.

Heating

Tomato frogs should be kept at 68°–80° Fahrenheit. Heat lamps or heating pads can be used to maintain warmth. Place at least one—ideally two—thermometers in the enclosure to make sure it doesn’t get too hot.

Tomato frogs don’t tolerate temperatures outside this range very well. Cold frogs are more vulnerable to illness while overheating could be deadly.

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Things to Know When Owning a Tomato Frog

Now that we’ve covered the habitat requirements for a Tomato frog, here are some other things to know when owning a Tomato frog.

Tomato Frog Close Up
Image Credit: miniformat65, Pixabay

Food & Diet Requirements

Tomato frogs are hunters by nature and should be fed mostly live prey. Gut-loaded crickets and earthworms are good staple foods for them. They can also eat freeze-dried bloodworms, other worms, beetles, and roaches.

Occasional treats of pinkie mice can also be offered. Food should be dusted with calcium and vitamin supplements as recommended by your veterinarian. Adult Tomato frogs should usually be fed once per day with as much as they can eat in about 15 minutes.

If your Tomato frog seems to be gaining weight or consistently not finishing the insects offered, reduce the amount you’re feeding them.

Water/ Liquid Requirements

Provide a shallow water dish for your Tomato frog. The dish should be large enough for the frog to soak in the water if they want. Change the water daily. A generous water dish also helps maintain adequate humidity in the Tomato frog’s enclosure. Clean the water dish frequently to prevent mold or scum from building up.

Size & Growth Rate

Juvenile Tomato frogs are typically about 1–1.5 inches long when sold as pets. With proper nutrition, males generally reach full size at a year old. Male Tomato frogs reach about 2.5 inches in length.

Female Tomato frogs are larger, sometimes as big as 4 inches. They may take as long as 2 years to reach full size.

Tomato Toad Frog Resting
Image Credit: miniformat65, Pixabay

Varieties

Tomato frogs have no naturally occurring subspecies or varieties. They are a species of least concern, according to conservation groups, because of their ability to reproduce quickly and tolerate habitat changes. However, a recently discovered fungus may impact future generations of the Tomato frog.

Lifespan and Health Conditions

Pet Tomato frogs live an average of 6 years but could have a lifespan of as long as 10 years with proper care. Here are some medical conditions that could impact this species.+

Minor Conditions
  • Internal parasites
  • Obesity

Serious Conditions
  • Respiratory infections
  • Red-leg syndrome
  • Metabolic bone disease
  • Intestinal obstructions
  • Bacterial, fungal, and viral skin lesions


Male vs Female

As mentioned earlier, male Tomato frogs are smaller than females, clocking in at about 2.5 inches when full-grown. They’re also slightly lighter in color and more yellowish orange.

Female Tomato frogs are the ones with the characteristic bright red-orange skin color. They are larger and grow slower, taking up to 2 years to reach their full 4-inch adult length.

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3 Little-Known Facts About Tomato Frog

1. They Can Inflate Their Size to Scare Predators.

Tomato frogs can inflate their bodies to appear larger as a defense mechanism. If this tactic doesn’t scare off would-be predators, they also have another option.


2. Tomato Frogs Secrete a Toxic Substance From Their Skin.

When stressed or threatened, Tomato frogs release a sticky, white substance in self-defense. This toxic secretion serves to discourage predators from eating them. It can also irritate your skin if you handle your Tomato frog.

tomato frog on the root of a tree
Image Credit: Krisda Ponchaipulltawee, Shutterstock

3. They Are Most Active at Night.

During the day, wild (and captive) Tomato frogs spend much time hiding in leaves and groundcover. They are more active at night when they can move around in their natural habitat. Tomato frogs also vocalize when active, during the evening and at night.

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Final Thoughts

With proper care, Tomato frogs can live up to 10 years in captivity. As with any pet, you should be prepared to care for your new Tomato frog for their full lifespan. Unfortunately, some reptile and amphibian owners underestimate the care their pets will need and release them into the wild.

Tomato frogs can’t handle the climate in most locations, and their presence may have a negative impact on local plants and wildlife. Before bringing home a Tomato frog, make sure you can handle their needs, and if you find you can’t keep your pet, look for other solutions besides releasing them.


Featured Image Credit: miniformat65, Shutterstock

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