The substrate is the bedding or material that goes on the bottom of the terrarium. Good substrates retain moisture, are easy to clean, and are either safe if accidentally ingested or too large for tree frogs to swallow.
Paper Towel Substrates for Terrarium
One of the most practical substrates available is paper towel. When placed in layers on the bottom of the terrarium and moistened slightly, it forms a cheap, easily maintained, simple substrate.Unfortunately, paper towels must be changed regularly to prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria, sometimes as often as once a day. For this reason, use them only in very simple enclosures that can be cleaned easily. They are the ideal substrate for temporary quarantine terrariums used when initially housing tree frogs. Damp paper towels make a simple and inexpensive substrate for many tree frogs, such as the Mexican leaf frog.
Foam Rubber Substrates for Terrarium
Upholstery foam rubber is another simple substrate that works well and is easy to clean. This material is sold at fabric stores for use as cushioning or padding. It comes in many different thicknesses; I prefer to use the 72- or 1-inch-thick (1.3 to 2.5 cm) material. Cut the foam rubber to fit the bottom of the terrarium and then moisten it. When soiled, it is easy to either replace the material or clean it with water. Cut holes in foam rubber for water dishes, perches, and other cage accessories so that these items sit flat on the bottom of the terrarium, making them more stable.
The simplest of substrates is no substrate at all. Bare-bottom enclosures can be cleaned with ease, particularly if they are fitted with a drain. Using a bare bottom may not work well for all species, though, because the hard bottom of a cage can bruise and damage tree frogs when they lunge for prey. In addition, it may be difficult to maintain the proper levels of humidity without a substrate to retain moisture.
To remove water spots from old terrariums use white vinegar. After soaking the glass in vinegar, use a razor blade to scrape off the mineral deposits. Severe water spots from extended contact with hard water can etch the glass, which unfortunately cannot removed.
Reptile terrarium carpeting or indoor /outdoor carpeting is often recommended as a good substrate for tree frogs, but I advise against it. Most terrarium carpeting is fairly abrasive and rough in texture. It does not hold moisture well, and requires frequent cleaning, which can be time-consuming when compared to the other simple substrates.