Red and Black Walking Frog
Banded Rubber Frog
Fire Walking Frog
Red Banded Frog
Red Banded Rubber Frog
Red and Black Walking Frogs, as the name implies are generally banded with alternating parallel STV (snout to vent) striping of black and red or red-orange. Occasionally they also exhibit red or red-orange spotting. Their skin has a pliable and shiny appearance, causing the adjective “rubber” to be used with many of their common names. They have also been referred to as “snake-necked” after their long and dexterous neck. Red and Black Walkers also have an incredibly versatile tongue, able to grab insects from multiple angles in a fashion that has been likened to manual dexterity by some researchers. Unlike many frogs, their hind legs are not much longer than their front, visibly denoting their preference for walking as opposed to hopping. They are diminutive—adults are rarely longer than two inches (5 centimeters). Their longevity is not known, but 4-5 years is probably about average.
Red and Black Walking Frogs are native to southern, tropical Africa and are known to occur coastally from Ghana to Mozambique. Red and Black Walking frogs inhabit primarily savannas and grasslands but also penetrate the ecotonal areas around rainforests, swamps, and ponds. Although primarily a ground dwelling species, they have been found in the buds and tree tops of palm trees. Though they have often been characterized as a xerophilous (preferring little moisture) species, their preference seems to be for cooler, damper areas: under rotting wood, in subterranean cavities, and on the periphery of rainforests.
Red and Black Walking Frogs are very deliberate and semi-secretive animals that require a fair amount of space with lots of hiding spots. Fortunately, because they are small, a spacious enclosure can be a 10 gallon tank for an adult pair. Because they are primarily a terrestrial species, they benefit from a horizontally oriented enclosure set up to mimic the woodlands and savannas to which they are native. Generally this means a substrate of clean topsoil mixed with bark, cork bark, sticks, leaves, small flat rocks and other forest-like detritus. A shallow water bowl (containing water no more than ¾” deep/< 2 centimeters) should be provided. Normal household temperatures (upper 60s to mid 70s Fahrenheit) are sufficient but 75 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit is optimal.
Red and Black Walking Frogs are insectivorous and eat most types of small bugs. In captivity small crickets, worms, termites, springtails, aphids, ants (choose ants carefully—one of the most common invasive exotics, the black Argentine ant, is usually not favored and can inflict a painful bite), flightless fruit flies and lawn plankton are good choices for food items. As with most captive-kept frog species insects should be dusted with a vitamin and mineral supplement to ensure adequate nutrition. Care should be taken to avoid overfeeding. It is easy for small insects to hide in detritus and go unnoticed. Insects that are not consumed can cause the frogs undue stress.
Red and Black Walking Frogs, though small, have a voracious appetite. Field studies have found hundreds of ants in the stomach of a single frog. Although they are protected from ants in their native habitat by skin toxins, care should be taken when introducing other species of ant as food items. As noted above, one of the most ubiquitous ants in the western United States, the black Argentine ant, Iridomyrmex humilis, can inflict a painful bite and may not be hindered by the frogs’ skin defenses.
Red and Black Walking Frogs are very fascinating to watch. They are active, voracious and entertaining eaters and seem to enjoy communal living. Their almost chameleon-like tongue is both interesting to observe and surprisingly accurate. Their small size makes it easy to have several in a relatively small vivarium. Males also have a beautiful trilling call.