What Do Red-Eyed Tree Frogs Eat?

When adult, the various red-eyed tree frogs are insectivores. In captivity, all can be acclimated to feed on commercially available insects such as mealworms, crickets, wax worms, and flies. If for any reason such as during shipping your red-eyed tree frog has been deprived of food or water for a lengthy period, it may need considerable prodding to start it feeding and drinking again.

It will be your responsibility to offer fresh food and moisture in such secure and calming surroundings that your specimen just cannot resist the temptation. Once the frog has been rehydrated and has begun feeding again, it is likely that it will continue to do so. It may even expand its horizons to a food type quite different from that which is natural to it.

What can I feed my red-eyed tree frog?

  • Crickets
  • Grasshoppers, Locusts
  • Wax Worms
  • Giant mealworms
  • Mealworms
  • Roaches
  • Termites
  • Fruit Flies
  • Houseflies


Insects At first, finding a few crickets or houseflies or grasshoppers is easy, but when confronted with the task of finding insects in the wild week after week, you will probably decide that purchasing is much easier.

Non-noxious insects (avoid fireflies and ladybugs) fed fresh from the wild will need little if any vitamin or mineral augmentation to benefit your red-eyed tree frogs. However, this is not the case with insects held captive for long- term frog food. To provide your frogs the necessary nutrients, those insects must be fed well and continuously.

A poorly fed or otherwise unhealthy insect offers little but bulk when fed to a reptile or amphibian. You may watch your frogs or toads eat feed insects every day, yet if the insects are not healthy, the amphibians may be slowly starving or developing a malady such as metabolic bone disease.

Dust crickets fed to adult frogs with a vitamin/mineral supplement (calcium and vitamin D3) at least once weekly—and dust those fed to fast-growing metamorphs at least twice weekly. Tailor the insect size to that of your frogs (small frogs, small insects; larger frogs, larger insects).

Before mentioning specific care for several of the more commonly used food insects, let’s discuss “gut loading.” Insects, be they crickets, mealworms, or other insects, must be fed an abundance of highly nutritious foods throughout their captivity, and especially immediately before being offered as food to your frogs. Foods high in calcium and beta-carotene (a vitamin D3 precursor) should be a large part of the insect’s diet.

Fresh fruit and vegetables (such as carrots), fresh alfalfa and/or bean sprouts, Keep crumpled newspapers, egg- crate inserts, or the center tubes from paper towel rolls in the crickets’ cage. We prefer the paper towel tubes because they can be lifted and the requisite number of crickets shaken from inside them into the cage or a transportation jar.

This makes it easy to handle the fast-moving, agile insects. A tightly covered 20-gallon long tank will temporarily house 1,000 crickets. A substrate of sawdust, soil, vermiculite, or other such medium should be present. This must be changed often to prevent excessive odor from the insects, and to help avoid die-offs.


Crickets are easily bred and adults are easily sexed. Females have three projections from the rear of their abdomen and males have two. The center projection of the female is the ovipositor the organ she thrusts into the ground and through which the eggs are expelled.

Keep the cricket cage between 76°F and 86°F. Place a shallow dish of slightly moistened sand, vermiculite, or even cotton balls on the floor of the cage. The material in this dish will be the laying medium and will need to be kept very slightly moistened throughout the laying, incubation, and hatching process.

Cricket eggs will hatch in eight to twenty days, the incubation time-varying by cricket species and tank temperature. Nutritious food should always be available to the baby crickets. Once you get started, you’ll find uses for all sizes of the crickets. Pinhead-sized crickets will form the base of a suitable diet for newly metamorphosed red-eyed tree frogs, the half-grown sizes are good for the smaller adults, and the adult crickets are the right size for the adult red-eyed tree frogs.

Feed your frogs at night and provide the crickets with an easy egress from any water dish into which they might tumble.

Grasshoppers or Locusts

Grasshoppers and locusts (Locusta sp. and Shiscocerca sp. in part) are widely used as reptile and amphibian foods in European and Asian countries, and are commercially available there. In the United States, you’ll have to breed them or collect them in the field with a net.

However, grasshoppers are fast, and it may take some time for you to hone your netting skills. You may wish to remove the large “hopping” legs before you place these insects in with your frogs. There are in the southern United States a few species of large, slow grasshoppers called lubbers. Many of these have a brightly colored (often black and yellow or red) nymphal stage that can be fatally toxic if eaten by your specimens.

The tan and buff adults seem to be less toxic, but we suggest that they not be used as a food item.

Wax Worms

The wax worm (Galleria sp.) is really a caterpillar, the larval stage of the wax moth that infests neglected beehives. These are available commercially from many sources.

They are frequently used as fish bait and are available from bait stores. Check the ads in any reptile and amphibian magazine for wholesale distributors. Some pet shops also carry wax worms. If you buy wholesale quantities of wax worms, you will need to feed them. Chick-starting mash, wheat germ, honey, and yeast mixed into a syrupy paste will serve adequately as the diet for these insects.

Giant mealworms

Giant mealworms (Zoophobas sp.) are the larvae of a South American beetle. They have proven to be a great food source for many red-eyed tree frogs.

Zoophobas larvae can be kept in quantity in shallow plastic trays containing an inch or so of sawdust. They can be fed a diet of chick-starting mash, bran, leafy vegetables, and apples.

To breed these insects, place one mealworm each in a series of empty film canisters or other similar small containers (to induce pupation) that contain some sawdust, bran, or oats. Nestle the film containers together in a larger box, simply to keep them together and so they don’t turn over; you don’t really need lids, because the larvae won’t climb out.

After a few days the worms will pupate, eventually metamorphosing into fair-sized black beetles. The beetles can be placed together in a plastic tub containing a sawdust substrate and some old cracked limbs and twigs for egg-laying (the female beetles deposit their eggs in the crevices in the limbs). The beetles and their larvae can be fed vegetables, fruits, oats, and bran. The mealworms will obtain all of their moisture requirements from the fresh vegetables and fruit.

Although giant mealworms seem to be more easily digested by anurans than common mealworms, neither species should be fed in excess.


Long a favorite of neophyte reptile and amphibian keepers, mealworms (Tenebrio Molitor) contain a great deal of chitin and should actually be fed sparingly. They are easily kept and bred in plastic receptacles containing a 2- to 3-inch layer of bran (available at your local livestock feed store) for food and a potato or apple for their moisture requirements. It takes no Other special measures to breed these insects.


Although these can be bred, it is almost as easy to collect roaches as needed. Roaches, of one or more species, live in much of the world. The size of the roach proffered must be tailored to the size of the red-eyed tree frog being fed. A meal of several small roaches is usually better for your specimen than a meal consisting of one or two large roaches.


These are an excellent food for newly metamorphosed red-eyed tree frogs. Collect these pestiferous insects as fresh as necessary. Should you decide to hold “extras” over, they may be kept in some of the slightly dampened wood in which you originally found them.

Termites are most easily collected during the damp weather of spring and summer from behind the bark, or in the moldering wood of dead pine trees.

Termites may be easily trapped and collected from wet corrugated cardboard “sandwiches” left near infested pine trunks.

Fruit Flies

Breeding stock of these tiny dipterids can be purchased from a biological supply house or collected from the wild. Biological supply houses will be able to supply you with flightless “vestigial-winged” fruit flies, a genetic mutation that makes handling this insect much easier. Mashed fruit and agar (a seaweed derivative) are good foods. These are an excellent food for newly metamorphosed red-eyed tree frogs.


These may be collected as needed (weather allowing) in commercial fly traps or may be bred. Tightly covered, widemouthed gallon jars are ideal for this latter purpose (be sure to punch air holes through the lid). The larvae (maggots) will thrive in overripe fruit and vegetables or other such medium.

Both larvae and adult flies can be fed to your specimens. The simplest method of introducing the adult flies to the cage is to place the entire opened jar inside the cage. By using this method, fewer will escape. The maggots can be removed by hand or with forceps and placed in a shallow dish in the amphibian tank. Fly larvae are also commercially available.