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Leopard Frogs

Keeping Northern Leopard Frogs as Pets


Leopard Frogs

Leopard Frogs

Lianne McLeod
Scientific Name: Rana pipiens.
There are several similar species such as the southern leopard frog (Rana utricularia)and the plains leopard frog (Rana blairi) which have a similar appearance and similar care requirements.
Size: approximately 3 inches (7-8 cm).
Expected life span: approximately 5-8 years, perhaps longer.
Lifestyle: semi aquatic.
Level of Care: suitable for beginners.


  • Tank: a ten gallon tank is sufficient for a single frog (if keeping more frogs the tank size must increase, keeping in mind that floor space is more important than height). Leopard frogs are semi aquatic and need a land area as well as a large enough body of water that they can submerge their bodies. A half land/half water tank is a good choice for leopard frogs and these can be set up a number of ways (see Frogland's Housing section for ideas). It is easiest in the long term to separate the land and water areas with a piece of plastic or Plexiglas placed across the aquarium and sealed with aquarium grade silicone sealant. This allows the use of soil on the terrestrial side to allow the frogs to burrow. A dense piece of wood (e.g. driftwood) can be placed partly in the water and partly on land to provide an easy transition from water to land (this also provides a nice basking spot). Alternately, gravel can be sloped in the aquatic side to provide a ramp out of the water.
  • Substrate: as mentioned above, a combination of soil and peat moss, covered with a commercial reptile bark substrate and sphagnum moss can be used on the terrestrial side. The depth should be at least 2-3 inches to allow burrowing. Gravel can be used on the aquatic side. It is extremely important to use smooth gravel only (to prevent skin abrasions and injuries), and ideally the gravel should be large enough not to be swallowed.
  • Accessories: small pieces of wood provide hiding and climbing opportunities (leopard frogs are not great climbers). Plants (live or silk) provide additional hiding spots (and therefore security), although frogs can damage live plants.
  • Water: the water used must be dechlorinated. Use a product from the pet store designed to remove chorine (and chloramine, if your water supply is treated with chloramine) to be safe. Filtration is not a necessity, but doing a 50% water change on a regular basis (at least twice weekly, perhaps more) is necessary. (In fact, some experts believe that the constant water vibrations from the filter is a sensory overload to frogs).
  • Temperature: the tank can be kept at room temperature - 68-75 F (20-24 C), although a temperature drop at night is a good idea (down to about 60 F or about 16 C).
  • Lighting: no special lighting is required. Some owners use a UVA/UVB fluorescent light which not strictly necessary but is not harmful and may be beneficial. Just make sure the frog can't jump onto the lamp. Avoid making the enclosure too bright however as the frogs may just hide if the tank is very brightly lit. A light cycle of about 10 hours light to 14 hours dark is recommended by some keepers.
  • Lid: a secure lid (preferably a mesh lid with lots of ventilation) is also a must - most frogs are adept at escaping, given the chance.


Leopard frogs should be fed a variety of invertebrates such as crickets, wax worms, fly larvae, and earthworms. A meal of 3-4 crickets daily is a good starting point, although some experts recommend feeding mature frogs only every other day. Variety seems to be key with frogs - crickets can make up the bulk of the diet but should be supplemented by a variety of other insects and worms. Prey items should be gut loaded (feed nutritious foods such as fruits, vegetables, dog food, fish food etc.) before being given to the frog. Once weekly dust the crickets with a complete reptile vitamin mix.

Keep an eye on the body shape of your frog. Remember that overfeeding is likely more of a problem than underfeeding so make sure the frog is not getting too round and cut back on feeding if necessary.


These frogs are genetically programmed to hibernate, so will naturally slow down and may stop eating in the winter months (usually for about 3 months). If possible, the tank can be cooled to 37-39F (3-4C) for three months to mimic the natural environment of the frogs.

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