Species Information Profile: Vietnamese Mossy Tree Frog (Theloderma corticale)
Species Summary: The Vietnamese Mossy Tree Frog (Theloderma corticale) is a remarkable amphibian known for its unparalleled camouflage. Its appearance closely resembles a patch of moss, making it a captivating display pet for enthusiasts with advanced care experience. However, keeping Vietnamese Mossy Tree Frogs in captivity requires meticulous care and attention to detail.
Lifespan: The exact lifespan of Vietnamese Mossy Tree Frogs in captivity remains uncertain, but they can live for at least 10 years and possibly more. Some reports from sources like the Rosamond Gifford Zoo suggest a lifespan of 12 to 15 years in captivity.
Appearance: Adult Vietnamese Mossy Tree Frogs exhibit a unique appearance, resembling a clump of moss. Their skin is characterized as bumpy or "warty" with green and red coloration. They have a remarkable ability to blend seamlessly with their surroundings, thanks to their incredible camouflage. When threatened, they can fold into a ball and play dead.
Average Size: Fully matured Vietnamese Mossy Tree Frogs can reach a size of 2.5 to 3.5 inches in length, with adult females typically being larger than males.
In the Wild: The Vietnamese Mossy Tree Frog is native to northern regions of Vietnam, primarily inhabiting evergreen rain forests along limestone cliffs. These frogs prefer rocky areas near vegetation and water, often seeking refuge in watery caves, under rocks, and among mossy plants. Their natural habitat provides an ideal backdrop for their moss-like appearance, aiding in their camouflage.
Vietnamese Mossy Tree Frog Cage Setup:
- For one frog, a 10-gallon enclosure is recommended, with an additional 5 gallons per frog in multi-frog setups.
- Opt for an aquarium or glass terrarium with a screen lid to ensure proper ventilation.
- Vietnamese Mossy Tree Frogs are semi-aquatic, so a significant portion of the enclosure should contain water, either as a full or partial water bottom.
What to Include:
- Ensure the presence of a large water bowl or a water bottom in the enclosure.
- Use tannin-rich water, and consider adding an Indian almond tree leaf to the water.
- Create a natural setup with floating food bowls, natural cork bark, and hiding spots.
- Both live and artificial plants are suitable for their enclosure, and they don't require special lighting.
- Maintain room temperature for Vietnamese Mossy Tree Frogs, with suggested temperatures between 65°F to 75°F.
- Occasional drops to temperatures below 60°F are generally well-tolerated, as they mimic their natural habitat.
- Avoid exposing them to temperatures exceeding 80°F, as this can cause stress and potential harm.
- Provide a substrate that accommodates both land and water areas, such as natural cork bark and medium-sized gravel.
- If using live plants, opt for a well-draining soil mixture substrate suitable for amphibians.
- Ensure that the substrate promotes proper drainage to prevent soggy conditions.
- Maintain tannin-rich water with a murkiness similar to tea-colored water.
- Perform partial water changes (up to half the water) once every two weeks.
- Use dechlorinated water and consider adding tannin-rich organics like Indian almond leaves or blackwater extract.
- Maintain humidity levels between 60% to 90% in the enclosure.
- Misting the cage two to three times per week can help achieve the required humidity.
- Consider using an automated misting system or fogger if necessary.
- Many keepers opt for creating a naturalistic paludarium setup with live plants, moss, fish, and Vietnamese Mossy Tree Frogs.
- Ensure the frog's needs come first when designing the setup.
- Choose small, slow-growing plants that are suitable for the enclosure size.
- Vietnamese Mossy Tree Frogs are nocturnal insectivores, primarily consuming insects like crickets, worms, and roaches.
- Feed them at night when they are most active.
- Dust appropriately sized crickets with vitamin and mineral supplements for a well-balanced diet.
- Juvenile frogs should be fed 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch crickets, while adults can eat full-sized crickets.
- Offer 2 to 3 crickets each night or 4 to 6 crickets every other day.
- Breeding Vietnamese Mossy Tree Frogs can be challenging due to the male-to-female egg ratio and temperature considerations.
- A ratio of 1 female to 4 males is common for successful breeding.
- Temperature can influence the gender of tadpoles, with lower temperatures yielding more females.
- Breeding is indicated when you hear calling sounds, typically during the early nighttime hours and just before dawn.
- Determining the sex of young Vietnamese Mossy Tree Frogs can be difficult but becomes more apparent as they mature.
- Females are about 20% larger than males.
- Males have red or pink nuptial pads on their front legs.
- Breeding can occur year-round in captivity due to consistent environmental conditions.
- Females may choose from multiple male partners for mating, so having 2 to 3 males with 1 female in the enclosure is optimal.
- Mating is often indicated by calling sounds.
- Fertilized eggs are laid just above the waterline and eventually fall into the water, where tadpoles develop.
Tadpoles & Froglets:
- Tadpoles can be cared for in two ways, either by removing them from the parent's cage during the egg stage or leaving them in the parent's enclosure for a few weeks.
- Tadpoles are typically separated into small groups and provided with a suitable container with dechlorinated water.
- Feeding tadpoles a mixture of dried spirulina, crushed crickets, and chlorella algae is recommended.
- Transition from tadpoles to froglets takes approximately 4 to 6 months.
- Vietnamese Mossy Tree Frogs are considered display pets, and excessive handling can cause stress and negatively impact their health.
- Occasional handling for necessary cage maintenance is acceptable.
- Be cautious, as these frogs can be jumpy, and prevent them from hopping out of your hands to avoid injury.
Caring for Vietnamese Mossy Tree Frogs demands attention to their unique needs and habitat requirements. By following these guidelines, you can provide optimal care for these captivating amphibians in captivity.