6 Best Amphibian Pets: Species You’ll Love

Updated: August 23, 2022 by Jennifer Munsell

Best Amphibian Pets

Amphibians like frogs, toads, and salamanders are some of the most amazing and fascinating pets because of their unique traits and bizarre appearances. The best amphibian pets are hardy ones, have simple care requirements, and are interesting to observe.

Many amphibians are complicated to keep, as they require very specific temperature and humidity settings. However, there are also plenty of amphibians that are small, docile, and relatively easy to care for in captivity.

Amphibians are typically carnivores, or more specifically, insectivores, which means you need to be comfortable feeding and have access to safe, captive-bred feeder insects, worms, fish, and mice.

Although all exotic pets can be challenging, amphibians in particular have a wide range of fascinating behaviors that make them rewarding and interesting pets. You can sit and watch your amphibious friend go about their life for hours and never get bored!

Some amphibians live on land, some live in trees, and some live their entire lives underwater! This is what makes amphibians unique; they can ‘breathe’ or respire through their skin, gills, or lungs depending on what species they are! Let’s look at six of the best amphibious animals you can keep as a pet.

1. Axolotl

Axolotl

  • Scientific name: Ambystoma mexicanum
  • Lifespan: 10 to 20 years
  • Average size: 7 to 15 inches
  • Environment: Completely aquatic
  • Care level: Easy to medium

Though they look more like a fish or some type of otherworldly creature, axolotls are a type of salamander! They are one of the most popular species of amphibians to keep as pets because of their truly unique and fascinating appearance.

These funky amphibians come in two main types of coloring, though other less common “morphs” are also being developed. Leucistic axolotls are more common in the pet trade because of their white and pink coloring. However, the wild-type variation, which is a speckled gray color, is also popular and as pretty to look at.

Axolotls remain in their larval stage for their entire lives (a process known as neoteny), which means they have gills and tails and live their whole lives underwater.

2. White’s Tree Frog

White’s Tree Frog

  • Scientific name: Litoria caerulea
  • Lifespan: 10 to 15 years
  • Average size: 3 to 4 inches
  • Environment: Arboreal
  • Care level: Easy

White’s tree frogs are among the most adorable frogs to own, mainly thanks to their cute, smiling faces and round, pudgy green bodies. These active, social frogs are native to New Zealand and Australia and are also known as Australian green tree frogs.

White’s tree frogs are primarily nocturnal creatures, and their nightly routines are amazing to watch. These light blue to greenish frogs often change color at night when they are hunting! They turn a purplish color to blend in with their darker surroundings.

During the day, these cuties are generally lazily hanging out on the branches of their enclosure or snoozing while clinging to the side of the enclosure (where you will sometimes be able to get a close look at their adorable, chubby bellies!).

3. Spotted Salamander

Spotted Salamander

  • Scientific name: Ambystoma maculatum
  • Lifespan: 15 to 20 years
  • Average size: 5 to 9 inches
  • Environment: Semi-aquatic
  • Care level: Easy to medium

Spotted salamanders are one of the larger salamander species. They are native to North America and are Ohio’s state amphibian!

Because they are semi-aquatic, these salamanders need to live in enclosures where they have constant access to water as well as dry land where they will bask from time to time.

These black and yellow amphibians are stunning to look at and have a very interesting defense mechanism. If they feel threatened–for example, when a predator picks them up in their mouth–they will secrete a foul-tasting, toxic substance from the skin on their back that will make the predator drop them!

Fortunately, this substance is not toxic to humans; however, you’ll need to take care to avoid rubbing it into your eyes or allowing it to come in contact with your mouth, as this can lead to irritation of mucous membranes.

4. Tiger Salamander

Tiger Salamander

  • Scientific name: Ambystoma tigrinum
  • Lifespan: 10 to 15 years
  • Average size: 7 to 14 inches
  • Environment: Terrestrial
  • Care level: Easy

Tiger salamanders are the largest land-dwelling salamanders still alive today. Their base coloring is typically a dark gray or black color, and they have stripes and splotches of bright yellow along their bodies. This makes them stunningly beautiful to observe in captivity!

Their beauty is only one of the many reasons why they are one of the most popular salamander species to own. In addition, they are very active and will impress you with their nocturnal hunting abilities. Sitting at night and watching your salamander go after worms, roaches, and feeder frogs is very interesting and entertaining. They are also very intelligent amphibians. Your tiger salamander can even come to eventually recognize you and will run to the front of their enclosure to greet you when you walk by!

5. African Bullfrog/Pixie Frog

African Bullfrog/Pixie Frog

  • Scientific name: Pyxicephalus edulis
  • Lifespan: 15 to 30 years
  • Average size: 5 to 15 inches
  • Environment: Terrestrial
  • Care level: Easy to medium

Incredibly un-pixie-like, this behemoth of an amphibian is one of the easiest to care for because they are relatively inactive, mellow, and very hardy. They definitely do not get the name ‘pixie’ from their appearance; instead, it is a rather ironic play on the scientific name of the genus they belong to, Pyxicephalus, meaning “round/box-shaped head.”

African bullfrogs actually live in warm, humid, open grasslands in the wild where they have access to bodies of water like ponds or swamps. Therefore, these pudgy amphibians’ enclosures need land as well as a bit of water.

6. Dart Frogs (Poison Dart Frogs)

Dart Frogs (Poison Dart Frogs)

  • Scientific name: Dendrobatidae
  • Lifespan: 10 years
  • Average size: 1 to 2.5 inches
  • Environment: Arboreal
  • Care level: Easy

Do not be alarmed! I am not recommending that you go out and catch a poisonous frog! Interestingly, dart frogs get the word ‘poison’ before their names only when they are found in the wild. Much of their natural diet is made up of toxic insects. These insects’ toxins get stored in the frogs’ skin, which the frogs can later secrete as a clever defense mechanism.

When they are in captivity, though, dart frogs do not eat toxic insects and are, therefore, not poisonous! This is fantastic news, as these tiny tree-dwelling creatures are phenomenal display animals. They are stunningly vibrant and beautiful, coming in a range of colors from red and black to bright blue and even gold, and are very active during the day.

Thanks to their small size, they can be kept in groups as long as they are of roughly equal size and do not need to compete for resources. When they are housed in spacious, natural-looking bioactive enclosures, their true beauty really does shine.

Did you know that native inhabitants of the jungles in South and Central America used to run the tips of their spears and arrows along the bodies of dart frogs? They did this to gather the poison from the frogs to aid them in hunts!

FAQs About Pet Amphibians

Are amphibians related to reptiles?

Amphibians are not directly related to reptiles in any way. In fact, humans are more closely related to reptiles than amphibians are!

Still, many of their care requirements are similar even though they are very different animals phylogenetically.

Can I keep multiple amphibians together?

Whether or not it is a good idea to cohabitate amphibians depends on a few factors, mainly the species of amphibians you plan to house together, how many of them you have, their sexes, how old they are, and the size of your enclosure.

It is possible, for example, to cohabitate more docile and social amphibians like African clawed frogs in a tank that is large enough for a group of them; however, keeping multiple Pacman frogs in a single enclosure could lead to problems, as they can be very territorial and aggressive towards other members of their species.

Additionally, some amphibians can be kept in the same enclosure as other amphibians if the enclosure is large enough, the two species are compatible, and they have similar temperature and humidity requirements.

Alternatively, in rare cases, you could potentially house animals like dart frogs and axolotls in the same enclosure, as the two would live in entirely different sections of the tank and wouldn’t often interact with one another anyway.

However, keeping multiple species together can be difficult and unpredictable. You’ll need to do a lot of research and, in most cases, ensure the animals do not share the same living space (terrestrial, aquatic, arboreal), and always provide them with plenty of resources so they never feel as though they are in competition.

Keeping multiple species together also means you will have to be extra careful with cleanliness and cycling the tank to ensure there is no cross-contamination. Again, do as much research as you possibly can on the biology and care needs of the two (or more) species before trying to put them together.

Why do amphibians need a humid environment?

Amphibians have permeable skin. This means water can pass through their skin. If the environment is too dry, water will be pulled out of their body and leave through their skin to create an equilibrium.

This means a dry environment can dehydrate your amphibian to the point of death very quickly.

Your amphibian will need a humid environment to stay properly hydrated. Some amphibians, like aquatic frogs and axolotls, must be submerged in water at all times. Others only need occasional misting with water to keep their skin moist.

Can I regularly handle my pet amphibian?

In general, amphibians should not be handled regularly. This is because they have permeable skin, and whatever is on your hands will make its way through their skin and into their body.

Amphibians are also very sensitive to chemicals and toxins. Therefore, if you have washed your hands and have not rinsed off every speck of soap on your hands before handling your pet amphibian, then you could potentially cause them serious harm.

Overall, amphibians are display pets and do better when they are left alone and only handled when their enclosure needs to be cleaned. Many species simply do not enjoy being handled to begin with, as this kind of interaction is stressful for them both mentally and physically.

If you want a pet you can handle regularly, then have a look at our list of pet reptiles that love being handled.

Wrapping Up on Amphibian Pets

The best amphibian pets are the ones that are simple to care for, are interesting to watch, and have long lifespans. The top six amphibians featured on this list meet these criteria perfectly!

Many species of amphibians live a very long time, and you need to consider the length of your commitment carefully before investing in one. This commitment is a financial as well as a time-oriented one, as their upkeep can become costly and time-consuming over their lifetime.

However, with the proper care, your amphibian pet will be a rewarding companion and stunning staple in your life!

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