It’s no secret that frogs are great pets. They’re relatively easy to care for, and it’s fun to watch them hunt, hop, and interact with their environment.
However, most frogs are nocturnal – they’re only active at night.
This means that, in order to see their pets exhibit natural behaviors, frog owners have to peer into the vivarium late at night.
Wouldn’t it be great if there were some frogs that were out-and-about during the day, like we are?
While most frogs are mostly active at night, there are a few pet frogs that aren’t nocturnal. Fire-bellied toads and various species of poison dart frogs aren’t nocturnal, they’re diurnal! These frogs rely on bright colors to ward off predators, a defense mechanism that is most effective during the light of day.
Before we dive into the wonderful world of pet frogs that aren’t nocturnal, let’s talk a little bit about why most frogs are nocturnal in the first place.
Why Are Most Frogs Nocturnal?
Most frogs – in the wild and in captivity – are most active at night. During the day, their behavior is a lot more “low-key.” When the sun is up, most frogs are hunkered down, sleeping, or just hiding from predators. Much of their activity between sunset and just before the sun rises – about 3 or 4 in the morning.
There are several reasons why most frogs are nocturnal. Let’s look at a few!
Reason 1: Higher Humidity At Night
One of the biggest reasons is that nights have higher humidity, which frogs need for their overall health and well-being.
As amphibians, frogs have highly permeable skin – they breathe and even drink through it! Keeping their skin moist is a must. High humidity not only facilitates frogs’ breathing, it also prevents water loss through their skin.
Reason 2: Easier To Avoid Predators At Night
Furthermore, most frogs are nocturnal because there are fewer predators on the prowl at night. The type of defense a frog uses against predators is a big indicator of what time of day it will be most active.
Frogs that rely mostly on camouflage and staying invisible are more likely to be active at night. Other frogs, like poison dart frogs, rely on toxins and warning colors to deter predators, and they are more likely to be active during the day!
Frogs that rely on camouflage – often nocturnal – take advantage of the cover of darkness to safely perform their normal frog activities, like hunting and mating. That’s why, in some parts of the world, you hear frogs calling more at night than during the day.
Reason 3: More Prey
Lastly, a lot of frogs’ prey items – like insects, other frogs, and even small mammals – come out at night. So, not only are frogs able to avoid daytime predators, but they also have an easier time hunting their prey.
Nocturnal frogs have excellent night vision, making them well-suited to hunting in low-light conditions.
Nightlife has a lot of benefits for most frogs, but some frogs are better suited to life in the sun.
2 Pet Frogs That Aren’t Nocturnal
Many frogs are almost entirely nocturnal, staying hidden or sleeping during the day. However, some frogs, like bullfrogs, are active during the day and night, but more so at night, so they are still classified as nocturnal.
In this article, we’ll look at some pet frogs that aren’t nocturnal, but strictly diurnal!
We humans are (usually) diurnal, active during the daylight hours, and sleeping at night. It makes sense that we might want our pets to be the same!
If you are looking for frogs that will be active and awake when you are able to observe them, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s learn more about some pet frogs that aren’t nocturnal!
1. Fire-bellied Toad
Despite their name, these “toads” are actually frogs! The other part of their name comes from their bright, reddish-orange underbellies with bold black markings. Their backs are the standard frog colors of green, grey, or brown.
Their vivid orange coloration isn’t just for show – it’s a warning. It’s an example of aposematic coloration – bright colors that warn predators that an animal is toxic or doesn’t taste very good.
Fire-bellied toads are an example of frogs that aren’t nocturnal. As we discussed, the presence of bright colors is a good indicator that a frog will be diurnal rather than nocturnal. Their defensive colors rely on the predator being able to see them, so it makes sense that fire-bellied toads are active during the daylight hours.
When a fire-bellied toad feels threatened, it will expose its bright underbelly by rising up on its front legs and arching its back downward, or even completely flipping itself over onto its back. This gives the potential predator a clear view of the frog’s warning colors.
Fire-bellied toads produce toxins in their skin. The milky substance oozes out from the frog’s pores, effectively covering it in the foul-tasting poison. While not life-threatening to the predator, it is irritating to mucous membranes (such as those in the mouth) and a predator who has a run-in with a fire-bellied toad once will likely never attempt to eat one again!
These frogs and their poison are no threat to humans. As with all frogs, they benefit from their humans wearing gloves – the oils from our hands can harm their delicate, permeable skin. However, if you don’t use gloves, make sure you wash your hands immediately and thoroughly after handling them!
Young children should not handle these frogs to eliminate the risk of them getting the toxin in their mouths or eyes.
As pets, these frogs are very easy to care for. They don’t require much in the way of supplemental heat, preferring a daytime temperature in the mid-70s. Lighting is still recommended, however, so that the frogs have a day-night cycle and can exhibit more natural behaviors. It is recommended to use a low-output UV bulb – it produces light and UV rays (which are beneficial to any live plants you might grow), but not too much heat!
Fire-bellied toads live well in groups, and a mere 10-gallon aquarium can house 2-3 individuals. They are typically 2-3 inches long and have bold personalities, making them very fun to observe!
With proper care, these frogs can easily live for 10 years – or longer – in captivity, filling your home with froggy awesomeness for years to come.
2. Poison Dart Frogs
Poison dart frogs are another example of frogs that aren’t nocturnal. All poison dart frog species commonly kept in captivity – like green-and-black, dyeing, yellow-striped, golden, reticulated, and bumblebee dart frogs – are diurnal.
One major characteristic of dart frogs, regardless of species, is their bright and flashy colors. As have probably guessed, this is another case of aposematic coloration. From rich scarlet red to bright sunshine yellow, poison dart frogs’ dazzling hues serve as a warning to any potential predators.
Unlike the toxins produced by fire-bellied toads, dart frogs’ poison can be deadly. The golden poison dart frog is one of the most poisonous animals in the world. The toxins secreted from its skin are potent enough to kill 10 people!
This shouldn’t dissuade you from owning poison dart frogs, though, because they are completely harmless in captivity!
Poison dart frogs’ toxins come from the insects they eat in the wild – like ants, mites, and termites. These insects consume toxic plants, and then those poisons accumulate in the frogs. Captive dart frogs are not fed insects free from toxins, so they pose no danger to humans.
While dart frogs’ bright coloration is their go-to defense mechanism and makes them perfectly adapted to a life in the sunshine, there are other reasons why poison dart frogs made it on our list of frogs that aren’t nocturnal.
These reasons are due to the nature of their habitats in the wild.
Poison dart frogs are found in the rainforests of Central and South America. As you probably know, rainforests are very warm and very humid. The year-round warmth means that the various insects that the frogs feed on are active all day.
Furthermore, the constant humidity creates an ideal environment for the frogs, and they don’t have to rely on nighttime humidity to thrive!
The high humidity of their natural habitat must be replicated in captivity. While some dart frogs are more tolerant of lower humidity than others, they all enjoy a humidity of at least 80%, with some species requiring a humidity of at least 100%!
Despite their high humidity requirements, dart frogs are relatively easy to care for. As they live in cool, shady rainforests, they don’t have complicated lighting or heat requirements. However, as with fire-bellied toads, a light is recommended to give the frogs a light cycle so they can exhibit their natural behaviors.
Regardless of where you are in your frog-keeping journey, there is a dart frog for you!
While all of the dart frogs are diurnal and are going to be out-and-about during the day, some species are bolder than others. If you are looking for pet frogs that aren’t nocturnal because you want to be able to observe your pet during your normal waking hours, a bolder species – like bumblebee, green-and-black, or golden poison frogs – might be the right choice for you!
If you are okay with not seeing your frogs as often, you could look into some shyer species, like bamboo, yellow-striped, or Amazonian poison frogs.
Some dart frogs are loud and some are quiet, so make sure you do ample research on the species you want to keep so there aren’t any surprises!
While most species of frogs – both in captivity and the wild – are most active at night, there are a few pet frogs that aren’t nocturnal.
Fire-bellied toads and poison dart frogs make great choices for someone who wants to watch their frogs perform their little frog activities during the day.
Frogs are incredible little creatures, but most are active at night when their humans are fast asleep. After learning more about some pet frogs that aren’t nocturnal, hopefully, you will find the perfect froggy friend that you don’t have to stay up late to watch!