You may have fond memories of catching cute little tadpoles as a kid with hopes to keep them as pets for as long as your parents would allow (at least before they discovered them). However, those tadpoles don’t stay small; they grow and change into much larger frogs that prove difficult to keep.
Is there a way to keep your frog pet dreams alive without having a monstrous amphibian?
Many miniature species of frogs exist in the wild but some of these can also be kept as household pets. Many of these don’t require a terrarium larger than 5-10 gallons nor do they themselves grow bigger than three inches in length.
First, we’ll take a look at the smallest pet frog you can own and then we’ll dive into a whole list of frogs that make great tiny pets.
What Is the Smallest Frog You Can Own?
Of all the tiny frogs to own as a pet, the smallest one you’ll be able to find on the market is the Brazilian gold frog. As its name implies, it comes from the jungles of South America where it thrives in high humidity and low temperatures.
These frogs measure in at 0.4 inches maximum and can comfortably live in a tank the size of a shoebox. If you want to boast about owning the smallest pet frog, Brazilian gold frogs are the pet for you as long as you’re up for the challenge of keeping up the habitat for a tree frog.
What Other Small Frogs Make Good Pets?
While the rest of these frogs may not be as minuscule as the Brazilian gold frog, they are still very small and none of these top three inches. They come in a wide range of colors and difficulty of care so take a look to see which miniature amphibian you might be calling your next pal.
1. Bumblebee Dart Frog
Bumblebee dart frogs make a bright addition to any terrarium with their black and yellow patterning. These little frogs reach a maximum of three inches, so they won’t get too big if you are looking to keep a small amphibious pet.
Although bumblebee dart frogs are popular among beginner frog pet owners, be aware that they can be a little on the loud side. In the wild, they can give off a warning call that echoes through the jungle if danger is near. Make sure your frog doesn’t perceive any enemies around or you may have trouble sleeping!
2. Painted Mantella Frog
Painted mantella frogs may look like poison dart frogs but they actually come from the island of Madagascar instead of South America. These gorgeously colored frogs only grow up to one and a half inches in length and have black bodies decorated with splashes of orange, red, yellow, and green.
Even though they are not dart frogs, they are still poisonous. Their colorful displays which make them such popular pets, serve as a warning of their dangerous nature.
3. Golden Mantella/Madagascar Golden Frog
Golden mantella frogs are very similar to their cousins, the painted mantella frog, except they are a rich yellow color. They are also a bit smaller, only measuring up to about an inch in length. They are also poisonous and should be handled with care.
Golden mantella frogs make great pets though as they are easy to maintain and fun to watch since they are active in the daytime.
4. Green and Black Dart Frog
Green and black dart frogs are perhaps the best for beginners of all the small frogs to keep as pets. These little guys only grow up to one and a half inches and don’t require any special lighting or specific temperature regimen.
Best of all, you can easily house two green and black dart frogs together in a ten-gallon tank so you watch these frogs interact with each other for endless entertainment.
5. Strawberry Dart Frog
Strawberry dart frogs are unique in their coloring with bright red bodies and brilliant blue legs. They grow a little bit larger than some of their other dart frog cousins, topping out at two and a half inches long.
However, they are still small enough to stay cute for your miniature frog collection. Strawberry dart frogs are a bit pickier when it comes to their environment so make sure you can keep them at a warm temperature and provide alternating light and dark periods.
6. Gray Tree Frog
Gray tree frogs reach just over two inches in length and sport an intriguing gray, bumpy skin that helps them camouflage in their natural environment against tree bark. Since these frogs are arboreal, it’s best to have an enclosure with space for them to climb.
7. American Green Tree Frog
American green tree frogs are perfect if you are looking for an easy to care for, small, beginner frog. At a maximum size of two and a half inches, American green tree frogs only require room temperatures above seventy degrees and a roomy ten-gallon tank.
Although they don’t like to be handled, they are abundant in the southeastern part of the United States and can be easily caught. American green tree frogs usually live about six years in captivity.
8. Glass Tree Frog
Glass tree frogs are a unique addition to any amphibian lover’s terrarium. Their translucent bodies allow you to see right through their skin to their organs. Additionally, they stay small at about three inches full-grown.
These little frogs are nocturnal and love eating live insects. They can be a little tricky to care for, so you need to make sure you keep their enclosures at the right temperature and humidity in order to help them thrive.
9. Burmese Chubby Frog
Although many species of bullfrog grow rather large, the Burmese chubby frog only tops out at three inches in length. They can live up to ten years in captivity and make great pets for beginners.
Their chunky appearance and bumpy skin give them a unique look that make them oddly cute. This is one little frog you’ll find hard to pass up!
10. Waxy Monkey Frog
The waxy monkey frog gets its name from the way it moves along tree branches in a monkey-like fashion, gripping each limb as it “walks” along. They only grow to about three inches long and thrive in a humid environment like their Amazonian rainforest home.
Waxy monkey frogs should not be handled too much though because the coating on their skin helps them from drying out and can be easily rubbed off.
11. Clown Tree Frog
Clown tree frogs are great for the miniature frog lover. At only two inches maximum, clown tree frogs not only make excellent pets but are also highly social so you can keep more than one together in a tank.
Use caution though, these little amphibians are tricky escape artists and will take advantage of any attempt at handling to flee. These frogs are best left as observation pets rather than interactive handling frogs.
12. Red-Eyed Tree Frog
Red-eyed tree frogs are one of the most charismatic pet frogs with their red eyes, blue limbs, orange toes, and green bodies. Best of all, they only reach three inches in length! Like most tree frogs, they require high humidity and fairly warm temperatures in their enclosures.
As long as you care for your red-eyed tree frog properly, they should live at least a decade in captivity if not more!
13. African Dwarf Frog
Unlike the other minuscule frogs we’ve discussed thus far, the African dwarf frog requires a completely aquatic environment. These frogs reach three inches in length and are entertaining to watch as they swim through their aquarium.
African dwarf frogs can be housed with various fish species since these frogs only eat worms and insects and pose no threat to the fish. Just make sure the fish species you choose are as peaceful as the African dwarf frog!
14. Red-Backed Poison Dart Frog
Red-backed poison dart frogs are some of the smallest frogs to keep as pets, reaching just over half an inch in length. They have black-speckled bodies with a signature bright red back. These are considered thumbnail frogs since they stay so small.
Just like other poison dart frogs, red-backed poison dart frogs are poisonous so they shouldn’t be handled in order to avoid any unnecessary discomfort.
15. Desert Rain Frog
Desert rain frogs are reminiscent of small potatoes with their short, blunt heads and bland coloring. These little frogs don’t even reach two and half inches in length and require high humidity environments to help them thrive.
To help keep the necessary high humidity, you should consider using a substrate within the enclosure to maintain moisture levels.
16. Golden Poison Dart Frog
Golden poison dart frogs are similar in appearance to golden mantella frogs with their rich color but can get slightly bigger at about two inches. In captivity, their toxins are not as strong as they are in the wild, although they should not be handled unless absolutely necessary.
Since golden poison dart frogs are very social creatures, it is best to at least have a pair of frogs to keep them happy and playful.
17. Monte Iberia Eleuth Frog
Monte Iberia Eleuth frogs are not commonly kept as pets, although they can be found in the pet trade, because they are extremely rare. Part of this is due to their incredibly small size of 0.4 inches – only the Brazilian gold frog can boast to be smaller.
Native to Cuba, these little amphibians are extremely picky about their environments and can be difficult to keep. Only experienced frog keepers should consider having one as a pet.
18. Darwin’s Frog
Darwin’s frogs are also not popular as pets but can be occasionally seen in the pet trade. They max out at 1.2 inches in length and are known for taking exceptional care of their young. Native to South America, its most popular attribute is the ability to look like leaf litter.
These little frogs camouflage so well, you may have a hard time finding your own pet among the substrate!
19. Pool Frog
Pool frogs are the last on our list, growing up to three inches in length. They are native to Europe and considered illegal to keep as pets in the UK. However, they are fairly easy to care for as long as you keep a water source available to them.
Pool frogs love to eat live insects so having lots of little critters on hand for food will keep them very happy.
What Frogs Stay Tiny?
All of the frogs listed above will not grow over three inches long. In general, a lot of tree frogs and dart frogs will stay small even into adulthood.
When looking over a list of potential frogs to purchase as pets, consider those listed as thumbnail frogs. These frogs which can come from a wide variety of families generally don’t grow over an inch in length, so you are guaranteed a miniature amphibian pet.
Check out this montage of thumbnail dart frogs and see if you can spot them all:
When it comes to pet frogs, bigger isn’t always better. Some of the most beautiful and unique frogs come in very small packages that will have you collecting more frogs than you ever thought to possess!