Monkey frogs are some of the most fascinating tree frogs of all. Many people choose to work with these frogs because of their interesting breeding strategies and flashy contrasting colors. A couple species of Phyllomedusa are easy to care for, while others are more challenging to keep. With the proper knowledge and understanding of their captive care, monkey frogs are an excellent choice for the experienced tree frog keeper.
How ti Buy Monkey Frogs
Only a handful of monkey frogs appear in the pettrade. Most of these originate from the wild and are kept in captivity with limited to moderate success. Species that have been available in the recent past include: P. bicolor, Giant Monkey Frog; P. burmeisteri, Burmeister’s Monkey Frog; P. hypochondrialis, Orange-legged Monkey Frog; P. sauvagii, Waxyi Monkey Frog; P. tarsius, Brown-bellied Monkey Frog; P. tomopterna, Tiger-legged Monkey Frog; P. vaillanti, White-lined Monkey Frog.
Giant Monkey Frog
The largest member of Phyllomedusa is the giant monkey frog, P. bicolor. The smaller males generally mature to around 4.0 inches (10.2 cm) in length, While females can reach 4.7 inches (11.9 cm).They have a very robust appearance, with muscular limbs and a broad head. They are largely green, except for large white spots that border their reddish-brown ventral sides. The giant monkey frog is widespread throughout the Amazon basin, where it spends most of its time high in the canopy.
Those that appear in the pet trade are usually males that have been captured while descending to lower levels to breed during the rainy season. Occasionally females will be caught along with males. They make good captives when provided with a large enclosure and properly acclimated to captivity, but are not an easy species to accommodate or maintain because of their large size.
Burmeister’s Monkey Frog
Burmeister’s monkey frog (P. burmeisteri) is endemic to eastern Brazil. They are medium-sized frogs, reaching a maximum length of 3.2 inches (8.2 cm). Like other monkey frogs, their dorsal sides are usually green. The sides of their body are attractively spotted or barred in yellow, beneath which is dark blue. This pattern continues along the inner sides of the arms and legs. Burmeister’s monkey frog is uncommon in captivity, and only a handful of hobbyists currently keep them.
Orange-Legged Monkey Frog
The orange-legged monkey frog (P. hypochondrialis) is a smaller species of Phyllomedusa and ranges from 1.6 (4.0 cm) to 2.0 inches (5.0 cm) in length. Females are slightly larger than males. Their dorsal sides are green, with a white lateral stripe running down the sides of their bodies, sometimes wrapping around the front of the face. The inner sections of their limbs are striped in contrasting orange and black. This pattern continues through the sides of their bodies, but is usually concealed during the day when the frogs are asleep, having tucked their legs up tight against themselves.
The orange-legged monkey frog has a large range in South America, occupying much of Brazil, but also inhabiting countries as far north as Venezuela and as far south as Argentina. They are not canopy dwellers as some of the larger Phyllomedusa species are, but instead live among tall grasses, shrubs, and lower vegetation. Two subspecies exist, each hailing from different geographical areas. P. hypochondrialis azurea lives within the hot, arid Gran Chaco region of South America, while P. hypochonrdrialis hypochondrialis inhabits the wetter regions of the Amazon. In captivity, the orange-legged monkey frog has proved very hardy, and it is perhaps the most commonly available species in the pet trade.
Waxy Monkey Frog
The waxy monkey frog (P. sauvagii), also called the Chacoan monkey frog, is extremely well-adapted to cope with the dry, arid Chaco region of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay. Males grow to a maximum length of 2.8 inches (7.1 cm), while females are larger, capable of reaching 3.3 inches (8.2 cm). They are predominantly light green, with a thin white stripe wrapping around their lower lips and down the sides of their bodies. Thick white streaks are often found on the ventral surfaces.
Waxy monkey frogs have a stocky appearance. Two parotid glands protrude from the tops of their undersized heads, which look too small for their powerfully built bodies. Waxy monkey frogs coat themselves in a wax-like substance to prevent rapid water loss in their dry environment, hence their common name. In addition to this adaptation, they are capable of going without food for months at a time during the cool, dry winter to further cope with their harsh surroundings. In captivity, waxy monkey frogs make excellent captives, provided they are acquired in good health and their few basic needs are met.