Frogs are rapidly becoming popular as pets with people looking for a relatively low-maintenance companion that doesn’t require much attention to thrive. But how much do these amphibians cost? To buy, own and take care of? I spent some time researching the actual cost of ownership – here is what you need to know.
So, how much do frogs cost? Frogs themselves are relatively inexpensive to buy, ranging from $15-$100 on average and depending on the species. However, the initial setup cost can get fairly pricy ($100-250+) as you need a range of equipment to meet their unique needs. A further $10-$25 per month should be expected for feeding.
Saying that frogs can make wonderful pets with relatively simple husbandry requirements once you get past the initial setup.
Nevertheless, with any frog species, you must do your research before purchasing.
You must make sure you fulfill all of their welfare requirements because frogs housed in incorrect conditions can suffer from a range of debilitating conditions.
If you take one on, you must be willing to pay for their care.
It’s only right. It’s only fair.
Equally, consider that there are now a variety of frog species available to purchase.
So, you must take the time to consider which one would be most suited to your budget and lifestyle, as they vary considerably in temperament and cost.
Let us now look at all the costs involved in much further detail – breaking down the total cost of ownership into their different components!
How Much Is It To Buy A Frog?
There are over 3000 species of frog, with the more common varieties costing as little as $15. Rarer frogs can set you back around $100, excluding any of the extra necessities such as housing, food, and bedding.
If you are a beginner frog enthusiast, you will need to look carefully at the requirements and temperament of your chosen species to ensure you are capable of providing for all their specific needs.
Some frogs are suitable for beginners; some are not.
However, all frogs have very delicate skin, which allows them to absorb oxygen via a process known as cutaneous respiration.
This means that they may not be the best choice of pet for young children or those looking for a more cuddly companion, as they dislike regular handling.
It is important to also recognize that some species can live up to 25 years in captivity which is a big commitment, so ensure you are prepared for this!
For the right owner, though, frogs can make extremely rewarding display pets due to their unique behaviors and stunning variety of colors.
So how do you find out which species is the best fit for you?
If you are a beginner, you will quickly find that the internet is your best friend, and you will notice there are several species that are widely recognized as being great for beginners.
White’s Tree Frog (Litoria caerulea): This large Australian species is known for being incredibly docile and easy to look after, so it makes a great choice for beginners.
They are also relatively easy to handle compared to other, more active species.
White’s tree frogs, which can reach up to five inches in length, can be purchased from a wide range of pet stores for around $40-$50.
The only downside to this species is that they are fairly inactive amphibians, so some people may find them quite boring as pets.
Horned frog, also known as Pacman Frogs (Ceratophrys sp.): These huge amphibians can grow to eight inches in length, and their nickname refers to their abnormally gigantic mouths, as well as their habit of eating anything that moves.
Pacman frogs are ‘sit and wait’ predators, which means they bury themselves under the substrate and wait for prey to cross their path.
This makes them another very sedentary species, like the White’s Tree Frog.
However, they do come in a beautiful range of colors, from orange to lime green, often with black or bright red patches.
You can purchase one of these giants for around $20-$30.
Dart Frogs, formally known as Poison Arrow Frogs (Dendrobates sp.): Many people will consider these amphibians to be an odd addition to the list, considering they are poisonous.
However, they are actually one of the easiest frogs to care for and have become increasingly popular as pets due to their small size and stunning array of bright color morphs.
Interestingly, researchers have found that Dart frogs in captivity lack the poison that their wild counterparts are famed for.
The current theory is that wild Dart frogs gain their poison from the insects they eat, which can include termites and poisonous species of ants.
Therefore, captive Dart frogs fed on non-toxic insects like fruit flies are unlikely to ever develop the poisonous alkaloids in their skin.
It is important to note that these frogs have evolved to live in tropical rainforests, so the temperature and environment in captivity must accommodate this.
You can pick up one of these beauties for around $45-$80, depending on the species.
Of course, there are many other species available, so it is important that you find the right one for you!
Other Costs To Consider When Buying A Frog
Although the frogs themselves are relatively inexpensive, the setup costs can be substantially more.
The first thing you will need to source is a suitable vivarium, but the type you buy will be entirely dependent on the needs of your chosen frog species.
So, there are a few questions you will need to ask yourself in order to determine which enclose is best for your amphibian companion;
- Is it an arboreal, aquatic, or terrestrial species?
- How large will it get?
- Is it active or sedentary?
Once you find the answers to these questions, you should have a good idea of what to look for.
This will probably be the most expensive purchase you will make for your frog, so spend a bit of time researching to ensure you get the right tank for the right price, as they can vary widely.
Substrate is another important consideration when setting up your pet’s forever home, as certain species are at risk of impaction if on incorrect bedding.
This issue is particularly prevalent in terrestrial species as they can often ingest bits of bedding when lunging for their prey.
For example, orchid bark is unsuitable for a Pacman frog because the large pieces can easily get stuck in the intestines if swallowed.
Coconut Fiber would be a much better substrate for this species, which you can easily purchase for around $12.
Your frog may also require a heat source which can come in the form of heat mats and heat lamps.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so ensure that you check which one would be the most suitable for your chosen species.
The main point to note is that a lot of heat lamps contain a mix of both UVA and UVB light, so do check whether you frog requires both of these.
Most types of heat sources can be purchased for around $17.
Aside from this, you will need to consider the extra cost of enrichment, like fake plants, hides, and logs.
Some species won’t require much in terms of enclosure decoration; however, it is essential for smaller, more active species like Dart frogs.
Thermometer hygrometers are also well worth the money (approx. $10-$15), so you can keep an eye on the temperature and humidity levels in your frog’s vivarium.
The cost of all these items can be substantial – adding up to $250 and more.
However, you do have the option to buy complete starter kits for amphibians and reptiles, which may end up being more cost-effective if you are just starting out.
Ongoing Costs Of Owning A Frog
Frogs are generally low maintenance and relatively inexpensive on an ongoing basis. $10-$25 per month is a general guideline, although several factors can make it a little cheaper or more expensive than this.
Without a doubt, the highest ongoing cost is their food.
Your frog’s preferred diet will be dependent on its species, but generally, most frogs are carnivorous, so they will need to feed on various insects, including crickets, grasshoppers, worms, and caterpillars.
Larger species will also appreciate pinkie mice.
The majority of these can easily be purchased from your local pet store, with crickets being the most cost-effective and readily available option.
Common Brown Crickets can be purchased in packs of 250 for under $10.
A lot of owners now choose to breed their own insects too, which lowers the cost even further.
Remember that frogs prefer live prey, so if you are squeamish about insects, you may need to reconsider whether a frog is the right pet for you.
You will also need to familiarise yourself with the extra vitamins and minerals that can be added to your feeder insects to make them more nutritious for your frog.
You will come across the term ‘dusting’ regularly in the reptile and amphibian world, which is simply the act of sprinkling a supplement powder over your insects prior to feeding.
Calci-dust is one such supplement, but you will find that there are a number of options on the market to choose from.
All amphibians have semi-permeable skin, which allows them to absorb oxygen from the water as they soak.
However, this does mean they are particularly susceptible to toxin exposure.
You should never offer your frog chlorinated water as it is harmful to amphibians.
Because of this, there is now a range of ‘amphibian water-safe products designed to remove chlorine and other harmful toxins from the water, whilst adding essential minerals at the same time.
You can also invest in a water test kit which will help you keep a close eye on the PH and ammonia levels in the water.
The latter option is more important for aquatic species that spend the majority of their time under the water.
In addition, frogs require a humid environment in order to keep their delicate skin moist.
So you should invest in a mister, which can be as simple as a spray bottle filled with water, or as complicated as an automated mister system that can be programmed to spray your frogs’ tank at specific intervals.
These generally range from $5-$50, depending on the complexity of the device.
Where Can You Buy A Frog?
Pet frogs have increased in popularity in recent years, which means they are now relatively easy to get hold of from pet stores, breeders, and even dedicated amphibian rescue centers.
However, this rise in popularity has also made them lucrative in the illegal pet trade market.
So do ensure you are buying from a reputable seller and make sure they are captive-bred and not wild-caught.
Unfortunately, many frog species are now facing population declines across the globe due to the pollution and urbanization of their natural habitats.
So, it is important that we don’t contribute to the situation by keeping wild-caught frogs as pets.
Furthermore, wild animals are much more likely to carry diseases that you could unwittingly be bringing into your home.
Don’t forget that some wild species are also poisonous, so they can potentially be very dangerous if you are not an expert in frog species identification!
Pet frogs are actually pretty inexpensive to keep and to own.
Depending on how exotic the species is, you can expect:
- $15-$100 for the frog,
- $100-$250 in upfront starting costs
- $10-$25 per month for food
- $20-$50 as additional and more ad-hoc expenses (1-2x per year)
And when we consider that most species of frogs will live for between 10-25 years in your care, the total cost of owning a frog can be calculated.
On the lower end, you can expect to pay:
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On the higher end, you can expect to pay:
|Cost Of Frog||Upfront Costs||Food, For Life||Adhoc Costs||Total Cost For Life Ownership|
Of course, these are just estimations, and many factors will influence the cost here.
But it does give you a rough guide and what to expect.
So, an average price – well that would be around $5332 – for the full duration of ownership.
That’s between $210-$350 per year.
And while this may sound quite expensive, consider that some puppies cost around $5000 to buy. And that’s just for the puppy!
So as we can see, frogs make not just for easy maintenance, but a cost-effective pet too.
And frogs can be extremely rewarding to own too.
However, it is essential that you do your research prior to making any purchases, so you can ensure that your amphibian friend lives a long and healthy life.