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Tomato Frog 101: Uncovering the Bright Red Wonder

Tomato Frog

The tomato frog gets its name from its eye-catching reddish-orange skin color and large, round body—just like a tomato. The frog flashes this bright coloration to cause hesitation and confusion to its predators enabling it to flee in split second.

Besides, it also secrets toxins on its skin to deter predators and enable it to survive in its natural habitats in Madagascar.

The frog is native to the islands of Madagascar rainforests where it exhibits terrestrial behavior. It acts as an indicator species in the ecosystem. Therefore, its presence can help provide insights into the health of the ecosystems.

As such, studying and taking proper care of these frogs is essential to ensuring their survival in their ecosystem.

Our guide below comprehensively covers everything you need to know about tomato frog species, including their physical characteristics, habitat, behavior, care, and fun facts.

Whether you’re a pet owner, animal enthusiast, herpetologist, student, or researcher interested in learning about the tomato frog, you’ll find this article quite helpful.

Species name:

  • Common name: Tomato Frog
  • Scientific name: Dyscophus Antongilii


  • Family: Microhylidae
  • Genus: Dyscophus
  • Species: There are three known tomato frog species namely: Dycophus antongili (Tomato Frog), Dyscophus guineti (Sambava Frog), and Dyscophus insularis (Antsouhy Frog).

Physical Characteristics

Tomato Frog Physical Characteristics

Tomato frogs are small to medium-sized species that grow to around 2.5 and 4 inches (60 to 90mm). Females grow slightly larger (up to 4 inches) than males (2.5 inches). They weigh about 6 ounces. The frogs have round bodies and tend to appear stockier.

Colorations and markings:

The females bear the distinctive bright red coloration while males are usually less brightly colored. Their undersides appear pale. Their eyes are green and feature black eye lines. Juveniles, on the other hand, usually feature a brown coloration.

However, note that the bright red color in females can range from deep maroon red to bright orange-red. Also, not all tomato frogs have the same bright red color; some individuals are brown, yellow, or greenish-brown.

Different stages of development:

As it’s typical of any frog species, the tomato frogs usually undergo various development stages until they reach adulthood.

It usually starts with eggs that hatch into tadpoles. The tadpoles then metamorphose into froglets in around one month.

Tomato Frog Different stages of development

During this phase, the young ones start absorbing their tails while developing hind legs. Their lungs are also fully developed and they use them to breathe.

Eventually, they become fully developed young frogs and leave the waters to join their adult relatives on the land in the wild habitats.

Note that color changes are imminent as these frogs continue growing. While juvenile tomato frogs feature brown coloration, it gradually turns red as they grow toward adulthood.

However, some individuals may retain their initial coloration for the rest of their lives. Some may develop subdued red colorations.

Unique Adaptations:

Tomato Frog Unique Adaptations

It is also worth noting that tomato frogs have some unique morphological adaptations that enable them to survive in their terrestrial habitats. These include:

  • Startle coloration: When under threat, tomato frogs use their bright coloration to confuse their predators. They also puff up their bodies to resemble a tomato, which becomes almost impossible to swallow, enabling them to send a warning to their potential predators.
  • Poisonous secretions: These frogs are also capable of releasing toxins through their skins when threatened. This comes in form of whitish skin mucous and is poisonous to all animals, including their common predators.

Habitat and Behavior

Tomato frogs are endemic to the islands of Madagascar and are distributed throughout the island. However, they are more common in the eastern part of the region, where tropical rainforest ecosystems are more abundant.

The Tomato frog habitat is mainly moist lowland rivers, marshes, ditches, forests, ponds, and swamps lying along Madagascar’s northeastern coast running from Antongil Bay to Andevoranto.

Tomato Frog Habitat and Behavior

They usually inhabit regions with thick vegetation, which provides cover and protection against predators.

Note that these frog species are terrestrial and solitary in nature. As for locomotion, they prefer hoping or walking about and aren’t good swimmers.

They also usually don’t move around. Instead, they prefer staying at a selected site (usually close to shallow waters).

Nocturnal Tomato Frog behavior:

The frogs are also nocturnal and are mostly active at night where they mostly hunt their food, become ambush predators, and make mating calls (i.e., during breeding season).

During the day, they tend to hide under logs or bury themselves in the soil. This enables them to stay away from predators and at the same time conserve their body temperature.

Mating and breeding habits

The mating usually takes place during the rainy season when the frog habitats, the rainforests, are moist and have abundant food sources.

Tomato Frog Mating and breeding habits

Males usually make croaking sounds from shallow water pools, marshes, or ditches to attract females for mating.

After the female shows up, the breeding occurs in stagnant or slow-moving waters, where she lays approx. 15,000 white and black eggs in the waters.

These eggs have no gestation period and usually hatch within 36 hours. Metamorphosis of the tadpoles into froglets completes in about 45 days.

Care and Housing

If you plan to keep a tomato frog as a pet, then you will need to ensure you provide it with the best care possible to ensure it stays healthy and happy at all times.

In this section, we have outlined helpful tips on how to show proper care to your tomato frog.

Tomato frog housing setup:

Tomato frog housing setup

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to set up a proper habitat for a tomato frog:

Step 1. Select the right size of terrarium

You will need to provide your tomato frog with at least a 10-gallon terrarium, but bigger is always better. Because this frog species is terrestrial, it requires more space to move around, explore, and hide. Therefore, you should get an enclosure with more horizontal space than vertical.

Step 2. Line it with a substrate

The frogs also like burrowing during the day, so you should provide them with a substrate that is at least 2 inches deep to mimic their natural habitats.

Make sure the substrate is loose for easy burrowing. Consider substrates such as coco fiber, plantation soil, or eco earth.

Additionally, you should fashion the tank with hide spots such as hollow logs, cork bark flats, branches, fake/live plants, etc.

Live plants, in particular, are great at maintaining humidity as well.

Step 3. Temperature considerations

You should also include a basking lamp or heating pad in your frog’s terrarium to help keep its environment at the recommended ambient temperature of around 65 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Make sure the temperature never goes below or above this as it can have serious consequences on your turtle, including death!

Step 4. Lighting considerations

As nocturnal species, tomato frogs do not necessarily require any special lighting. However, we still recommend equipping its tank with a low-wattage UVB light source to mimic the day-night cycle. This is especially helpful if you have live plants inside the tank.

Step 5. Maintaining optimal humidity

Humidity inside the tomato frog’s terrarium should be maintained at about 65 to 80% to keep the frogs from becoming dehydrated.

You can easily achieve this by misting your frog’s enclosure twice every day. Alternatively, you can use a humidifier to achieve these high humidity levels.

How to keep your tomato frog healthy:

Proper tomato frog care also involves putting the necessary measures in place to keep your frog healthy.

One way you can achieve this is by ensuring hygienic living conditions for your frog. Remove any uneaten foods and waste to prevent the buildup of disease-causing bacteria and fungi.

How to keep your tomato frog healthy

Clean the entire enclosure and change the substrate regularly (once a week is recommended).

Clean the water dish and refresh the water daily.

You should also consider regular veterinary clinics to ensure your pet frog stays healthy and free from various health issues.

If you notice signs of illnesses in your tomato frog, be sure to consult an experienced vet as soon as possible.

Common issues that arise in tomato frog care:

Tomato frogs are generally hardy and easy to care for. However, some issues may still arise in frog care that you’d want to know in advance.

For instance, tomato frogs are solitary and you should consider keeping them individually.

They may also show cannibalistic behavior, further emphasizing the need to keep one pet per enclosure.

Common issues that arise in tomato frog care

If you must keep more than one frog in the same terrarium, then you should ensure each has plenty of space to itself.

Some common health issues your pet frog may experience along the way include chytridiomycosis or chytrid fungus, which has a huge impact on the frog population in the inland of Madagascar.

Other potential issues include dehydration and parasitic infections. You can address dehydration by providing your pet with a shallow water dish to soak in and maintain optimal humidity levels.

Regularly cleaning the frog’s enclosure and regular examination by a vet can help prevent parasitic infections.

Diet and feeding

Tomato frogs in the wild are carnivores and mainly feed on insects such as beetles, mosquitoes, flies, and insect larvae. They also feed on worms.

Tomato frogs in the wild use an ambush-hunting strategy. This involves sitting and waiting for their prey to get in range and then attacking it with their long, sticky tongues.

Tomato Frog Diet and feeding

However, it may not be possible to provide your frogs with the exact same diet they take in the wild. As such, you should consider supplementing their diet with calcium and other mineral and vitamin supplements.

You should also consider other foods such as mealworms, superworms, wax worms, etc. which are available at exotic pet stores.

Besides food, you should also provide your tomato frog pet with clean and fresh water. Only use dechlorinated water as these frogs can easily absorb toxins through their skins.

Water with neutral pH and hardness of soft to medium is recommended for these amphibians.

Fun Facts

Tomato Frog Fun Facts

Here is a quick list of interesting facts about tomato frogs that you didn’t know:

  • Tomato frogs are listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List, meaning they may become an endangered species in the near future. This is mainly due to habitat loss and overharvesting for the exotic pets trading.
  • When threatened, these frogs inflate their bodies to make them appear bigger and more intimidating to predators.
  • Tomato frogs use their bright red skin to serve as a warning to predators that they’re toxic and they should keep off.
  • Females tend to lay 1000+ eggs per clutch after a successful mating, which are laid in water to hatch into tadpoles
  • Tomato frogs secrete poisonous mucus through their skins when distributed, acting as a defense mechanism to deter animals.
If you’re fascinated by tomato frogs, you might also be interested in exploring other unique and captivating frog species. At Amphibian X, we have informative articles on Wallace’s flying frogs and mantella frogs. Our article on Wallace’s flying frogs explores the unique characteristics and behaviors of these arboreal frogs, including their ability to glide through the air and their distinctive coloration. Meanwhile, our article on mantella frogs covers the interesting features and behavior of these small, brightly-colored frogs, known for their toxicity and their important role in the ecosystem. So, if you want to expand your knowledge about the diverse world of frogs, be sure to check out our articles on Wallace’s flying frogs and mantella frogs.


The tomato frog species stand out from other frog species due to its unique bright red skin coloration. In this article, we have just covered everything you need to know about this frog, including its unique physical characteristics, nocturnal behavior, solitary and terrestrial behavior, mating rituals, reproduction info, and care tips.

Keep in mind that this frog may become an endangered species in the near future. As such, you should take part in its conservation efforts by practicing responsible pet ownership. You should also support conservation efforts by amphibian conservation organizations aimed at preserving its population and natural habitats.

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