White's Tree Frog (Litoria caerulea) Species Profile: Housing, Diet, and Care

Litoria caerulea

Quick Stats: White's Tree Frog
Family: Pelodryadidae
Origin: Indonesia, New Guinea, and Northeastern Australia
Size: Adult: 3" to 5"
Diet: Crickets, mealworms, moths, earthworms, waxworms; sometimes pinkie mice for adults
Water: Large amounts of fresh, clean water
Housing: One frog per 20-gallon tall aquarium with a screen top
Substrate: Organic mulch, reptile barks, and/or peat bedding to maintain humidity
Decoration: Heavily planted terrarium with many branches for climbing
Lighting: Full spectrum fluorescent;
Temperatures: Night: minimum of 75 F; Day: 80-87 F
Humidity: High
Care Level: Easy
Cautions: Keep in an aquarium with a tight lid

The White's Tree Frog, also known as the Dumpy Tree Frog or Smiling Tree Frog, is easy to keep as long as you have a fresh, clean, dependable water source. If allowed to overeat and become obese, older Dumpy Treefrogs grow fat layers on the tops of their heads, hence the name "dumpy." White's Tree Frogs have "suction-cups" on their feet and can climb smooth surfaces, such as glass, with ease.

Natural environment

The White's Tree Frog is native to Australia, Indonesia, and New Guinea. It lives in coastal areas, but may also be found in drier areas near cisterns, man-made water reservoirs, and other areas in which water may collect.

Physical characteristics

This docile frog is usually green to blue, or brown in color, but may also be a very rare piebald (white and green mottled). If stressed, it may appear gray. Under ideal conditions, the White's Tree Frog can live up to 20 years, although 15 is more common. Females are usually larger than males, reaching up to 5 inches in size. During breeding season, the males will develop a dark "nuptial pad" on the inside of the "thumb." This helps them grip the female during mating.


A female White's Tree Frog generally lays 200-1,000 eggs, twice each season. The eggs hatch within 24 hours. The tadpoles develop into frogs in four to five weeks. The juvenile frogs reach adult size in 4 to 5 months, but are not sexually mature until about 1 year of age.


A young White's Tree Frog on the side of a glass aquarium

An adult White's Tree Frog needs a minimum of a 20-gallon terrarium with large, sturdy driftwood branches for climbing and a variety of artificial plants. Because they are "tree frogs," the terrarium should be taller than it is wide. The substrate could consist of larger reptile bark chips, or paper toweling. This frog is nocturnal, so would appreciate a ledge or large-leafed artificial plants to sleep under during the day. The terrarium should be covered with a tight-fitting mesh lid that allows good air circulation.

These frogs have a waxy covering on their skin to help them retain moisture, but they still require high humidity. Provide regular misting and a large, shallow dish of water the frog can sit it. White's Tree Frogs are not good swimmers, so make sure the frog can easily get into and out of the dish. If using tap water, let the water sit 24 hours before placing it in the cage, or use a dechlorinator.

Temperature, humidity, and light

The White's Tree Frog prefers a minimum nighttime temperature of around 75 F and a daytime range of 80 to 87 F. A temperature gradient in the cage can be maintained through the use of an incandescent spotlight as a heat source at one end of the cage. It is extremely important to keep the humidity high, or the basking light could quickly dry out the frog's skin. If an additional heat source is needed, use a tank heating pad under the bottom of the cage. The tank should also be fitted with a full spectrum fluorescent light that is used on a 12-hour light, 12-hour dark cycle.


The diet of the White's Tree Frog should consist of mostly mealworms, crickets, and waxworms. Be sure to "gut-load" the crickets and mealworms with a good diet containing multivitamins. They should be dusted with a calcium supplement every fourth or fifth meal. These frogs have a tendency to become obese, so do NOT overfeed. Young frogs less than 1.5 inches can be fed daily, but as the adults become over 3 inches, feedings should be reduced to every 2-3 days. Since they are nocturnal, it is best to feed them at night.

Temperament and handling

White's Tree Frogs are not very active, and can become quite tame if handled regularly. Always wash your hands before and after handling a frog, and remember frogs jump!

Article by: Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith