How Does the Backwater Reptiles Shipping Process Work?

One of the biggest concerns many people have with purchasing an animal of any kind online is the safety of the animal during transit. To the unexperienced, it would seem like delivering a reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate in the mail would be dangerous. However, at Backwater Reptiles, we have years of experience packaging, shipping, and ensuring safe delivery of our animal cargo.

In this article, we will explain how we go about making sure that our animals and our customers are happy.

We will answer questions such as:
Exactly how safe is it to package and ship an animal? Isn’t it risky?
How does the entire ordering process work?
What happens if the animal is unintentionally harmed during transit?
How do I know that my pet will arrive safe and sound?
How will my pet be packaged?

We’ll even include a video demonstrating our packing method so that you can see exactly how the animals are boxed up.

How safe is it to package and ship a reptile, amphibian, or invertebrate? Isn’t it risky?

The short answer to this question is that it is very safe. Although there are rare instances where an unforeseen occurrence can injure an animal during the shipping process, it is rare. Most pets will arrive safe and sound at their new home with little to no stress.

Truthfully, the types of animals sold by Backwater Reptiles are all critters with pretty hardy dispositions. Most reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates don’t need to eat on a daily basis, so not eating for a day or night while they travel to you is nothing out of the ordinary for them.

hybrid box turtle
Turtles and tortoises fare particularly well during the shipping process. They do travel with their “homes” on their backs anyways!

And rest assured that at Backwater Reptiles we do everything in our power to make sure that the manner in which our animals are packaged and shipped keeps them within the proper temperature and moisture range. But we’ll touch upon that a little later in the article.

The bottom line is that it is very safe to ship snakes, lizards, frogs, spiders, scorpions, and all other types of pets sold by Backwater Reptiles. In fact, ninety-eight percent of orders we send out arrive safe and sound and we’re very proud of those numbers.

How does the entire ordering process work?

Our ordering process is very straight forward and simple. It’s not really that different from ordering anything else online.

You can browse by the type of animal you’re looking for. For instance, we have a section for lizards, snakes, toads, frogs, spiders, etc. Each of these categories is further divided into specific species categories. The lizards section contains species tabs such as geckos, iguanas, and chameleons. The snakes section contains species tabs such as boas, pythons, and corn snakes. We like to make browsing as uncomplicated and easy as possible.

You also have the option to use the Backwater Reptiles website’s search feature. This is useful if you have a specific species name or even a scientific genus and species you’re looking for.

One you’ve located the pet you wish to purchase, simply add it to your cart. Generally, you can also purchase all the needed supplies and accessories for any given type of animal on that specific animal’s “for sale” page. For example, on each chameleon for sale page, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and add a chameleon kit to your order.

What happens if you have a question? What if you have a gender request, size request, or even color request for any given animal?

All you need to do if you have a question of any kind before placing your order is email our hard-working customer service team. They work full-time to ensure that all your questions are addressed. After all, we do want you to be one hundred percent satisfied with your order!

We would like to mention that the main difference between ordering a living creature and ordering any other product online is that we require our carriers to obtain a signature from the recipient of the animal to ensure that it was delivered in a timely, efficient, and secure manner. So check out our shipping schedule when you place your order and make sure that you are ordering for delivery on a day when someone will be present to sign and accept the animal.

antilles pink toe tarantula spiderling
Invertebrates such as this Antilles Pink Toe Tarantula spiderling also fare extremely well during the shipping process.

How do I know that my pet will arrive safe and sound?

While we can’t guarantee with one hundred percent certainty that all will go exactly as planned during the shipping process for every single order placed, at Backwater Reptiles we take every precaution to ensure that each and every animal that we ship out is packaged with care and attention to detail.

When packing a shipment, we take into consideration everything from the external temperature in our location to the temperature of the animal’s final destination. We also make sure that each animal is packed in an appropriately sized container with the correct amount of air circulation.

Furthermore, we clearly and distinctly label each and every box with a stamp that indicates that there is a live animal inside. This helps make sure that the carriers are gentle with the boxes and therefore makes the journey safer for the animals.

All animals that depart from the Backwater Reptile facility are sent out using overnight shipping. This means that the animal is transported quickly and with minimal stress. Although most of the animal we ship don’t mind being in a small space for periods of time, we do like to make sure that they get to their destination as quickly and efficiently as possible. Most will depart our facility in the morning before or around noon and arrive at your doorstep the following morning.

Using overnight shipping not only means that your pet arrives quickly, it means that you receive up to date tracking information that allows you to follow the progress of your pet and make sure that you are home to sign for it. While being able to sign for the animal on the first attempt is ideal, most FedEx and UPS facilities will hold the animal for pick up at your convenience. If you do happen to miss your delivery window for any reason, we do highly recommend retrieving the animal as soon as possible to avoid stress or injury from occurring.

What happens if my pet is unintentionally harmed during transit?

It’s beneficial to all parties involved if the animal arrives at its new forever home safe, sound, and without incident. However, there are unfortunate times when animals will arrive either injured, ill, or dead on arrival (DOA). And while nobody wants to have to deal with the heart ache or hassle of such an occurrence, just know that at Backwater Reptiles, we take good care of our customers and we will do everything to make sure that you have a good experience with us.

contact backwater reptiles
If you ever have any issues with your order, all you have to do is use the contact form on our website or email our customer service team via

We also think it’s worthwhile to mention that we have a shipping success rate of ninety-eight percent, which means that only two percent of all orders sent out have any issues. We’re very pleased with this statistic because it means that our animals are treated well, our customers are treated well, and we can rest easy knowing that we do and will continue to do everything within our power to be humane and ethical when delivering our beloved critters to their new forever families.

Because we do offer a live arrival guarantee PLUS an extended seven day warranty on all animals ordered from us, if you do ever happen to have something go wrong with your order, the process of either getting a refund or a replacement animal is very straight forward. All you have to do is email our customer service team and tell them your situation. They are fully equipped and ready to address your concerns and want to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

How will my pet be packaged?

Packing and prepping an animal to be mailed is not as simple as putting a frog in a box. It requires a bit of planning and careful placement and organization. After all, you don’t want your pet bouncing around inside a box or getting too cold, too wet, or too hot.

Most animals sold by Backwater Reptiles are small enough to fit inside small plastic cups with breathing holes. Most hatchling snakes, invertebrates, amphibians, and small lizards fall into this category. However, sometimes reptiles that are too large (i.e. some iguanas, some mature snakes, and other adult animals) will be sealed inside a breathable bag for transportation. No matter what temporary container your new pet is inside of, we make sure that said container is placed comfortably but securely within the shipping box to minimize movement and jerkiness.

Styrofoam inserts are placed on all sides of the box to not only secure the container from moving around, but also to create additional insulation. The styrofoam helps maintain the desired temperature within the box.

Whether or not a heat or cool pack is included inside your new pet’s shipping box depends on several factors – namely, the local temperature at our facility and the temperature at the animal’s final destination.

For instance, because the Backwater Reptiles facility is located in Northern California, our summers can get into triple digit temperatures. This means that even if the animal’s destination is somewhere cold, we can’t include a heat pack to keep the animal warm because it would overheat while in transit from our location. It’s a balancing act taken case by case, and usually we choose to take into account the most extreme temperature situation at either the departure location or the destination and compensate for it.

We will also take temperature into account when poking air holes in the actual shipping box itself. More holes does allow for more air flow, but it also allows the temperature exchange to occur more quickly. So, for instance, if the exterior temperatures are very cold and we’ve packed the animal with a heat pack to compensate, it doesn’t make sense to poke a ton of air holes in the shipping box because it allows all the heat created by the pack to escape. There’s no need to fret though – the boxes themselves aren’t sealed to the point of preventing proper air circulation, so your new pet will not suffocate.

All of our shipping boxes are also properly labeled to help the FedEx and UPS carriers understand that there is a live animal inside. Not only are the boxes labeled as such, but we use a special “LIVE ANIMAL” stamp to add extra security.

All you have to do once your new pet arrives is crack the tape seal on the box, open and remove your critter! Most animals will need anywhere from a day to a week to feel at home in their new enclosure and to begin eating, drinking, and functioning as normal.

Below is a video demonstrating the details of how we package each animal. The video does go over much of the same information that’s listed above, but it’s a useful visual representation for those who prefer watching a video over reading.


We hope that this blog article has helped make you comfortable with the process of ordering a living animal online.

Our goal is to show current, past, and future customers that delivering animals through the mail is safe. Even if something does go wrong in transit, Backwater Reptiles will do everything to make sure our customers are happy by either offering a replacement animal or a refund.

We also have the best live arrival and warranty terms of any online reptile vendor!

If you have any questions or concerns that were left unanswered by this article, feel free to ask them in the comments section.

How to Preserve a Reptile or Amphibian

We’d like to preface this blog article by stating that it’s never a happy occasion when a pet reptile or amphibian passes. It’s a sad occurrence and we’d like to make it known before you delve into this piece that we’re not writing this tutorial with an attitude of callousness or disregard for the lives of the beautiful reptiles and amphibians with which we gratefully share our homes.

We also want to state that this post will be somewhat graphic and depict photos of deceased reptiles and amphibians being preserved. To some people, this might be disturbing and we wish to alert those with sensitive constitutions of this fact before they continue reading.

All of the Backwater Reptiles team loves reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates and we are writing this article from a place of appreciation for these wonderful animals and the enrichment they  bring to our lives. We’re of the mindset that even after they’ve passed, our loving pets might live on through the preservation process, but we definitely understand that not everyone wishes to see their dearly departed pet after they have moved on.

So  now that we’ve warned you that the content of this post is not going to be appealing to everyone, let us continue forward. We’ll discuss everything from how to humanely euthanize a reptile or amphibian to how to safely create a wet specimen or dry specimen out of an animal that has moved on due to natural causes.

This is a completed wet specimen of an elephant trunk snake. It is a bit more buoyant than some specimens due to being an aquatic animal by nature.

How to humanely euthanize an ill or dying reptile or amphibian

It’s never an easy decision to euthanize a pet, no matter what type of animal you care for. It’s natural to grow attached to your pet, no matter if it has scales or fur.

It’s standard operating procedure to take a dying or ill cat, dog or other domestic creature to the vet to be euthanized, but what do you do when that pet is a reptile or amphibian? Is the process the same? What is the most humane way to go about helping your reptile over the rainbow bridge?

Obviously, we always recommend taking your reptile to the vet when it comes time to make such a tough decision. Although there are ways to do so at home, they are controversial and we feel that it’s always best to leave such matters in the hands of professionals, so we won’t be touching upon these methods, even though some people might endorse them.

Your herp veterinarian knows how your pet’s body works and will be able to euthanize your herp in a manner that alleviates pain and causes the least distress to the animal and to the owner. Some vets are even kind enough to perform house calls for an additional fee.

How to create a wet specimen from a deceased reptile or amphibian

Before we delve into the process of preserving your reptile or amphibian as a wet specimen, we should probably explain what exactly a wet specimen is.

Unlike mounted skeletons or taxidermy, which both require extensive studying and experience to perform, wet specimens are animals suspended in a liquid matrix in some sort of container such as a jar or a bottle. The liquid can range from ethyl alcohol to formalin, but either way, it will essentially “pickle” the animal in question, preserving it in its entirety.

For the purposes of this article, because we’re not experts on the subject, we’ll stick strictly to preserving a complete specimen. In other words, it is certainly possible to preserve parts and pieces of an animal, but we’re only discussing capturing the essence of an entire creature prior to its decomposition process.

When creating a wet specimen, it’s best to start right away. The less rigor mortis that sets in, the better you can pose your animal into a resting position that you like. However, if you are unable to begin the preservation process right away, you can store your reptile or amphibian in the freezer.

Just keep in mind that freezing works better on animals with scales as the porous skin of amphibians can actually get freezer burn if you’re not careful.

preserving snake in freezer
If you have to put your animal in the freezer for any reason, make sure it is in a tightly sealed container to help prevent freezer burn.

List of supplies needed to create a wet specimen

A jar or container large enough to hold the reptile or amphibian that you will be preservingThis is a no-brainer. You’ll need something to hold both the liquid and the animal in question.

When we’ve created specimens in the past, we’ve purchased glass jars with either twist top silver lids or vacuum sealed glass tops. Pretty and decorative jars and containers can be found in abundance at thrift stores for very cheap or you can head to your local craft store for a wide range of sizes. Just be sure your container is glass because plastic can react poorly with chemicals.

Side note: Although jars with cork lids definitely look appealing and will do the trick for a short amount of time, the cork lid is porous and you will lose preservative through it over time. So although you can certainly cap your container with cork, keep in mind that you’ll have to refill your jar with preservative from time to time.

Preservative liquid. Again, our preservatives of choice are either formalin or ethyl alcohol, although there are others that you can use if you know where to find them.

Ethyl alcohol is a clear alcohol much like rubbing alcohol, however its chemical composition is slightly different. We use a solution of at least 70% alcohol to water that can easily be purchased from any drug store.

Formalin is a bit trickier to work with and is actually a carcinogen, so we recommend using ethyl alcohol if at all possible, even though it is not as strong of a preservative.

Formalin is not as easy to secure due to the strength of the chemical, but it can be purchased online.

No matter whether you choose to use ethyl alcohol, formalin, or some other chemical, be sure that you have enough to inject your animal and enough to fill your holding container.

Needles in syringes. Depending on the size of the reptile or amphibian you’re preserving, you’ll need various gauges of needle, but for most animals, the very small hypodermic syringes used by diabetics work just fine.

If you need needles larger than insulin syringes contain, you can order them online. However, insulin syringes can be purchased at any pharmacy in bulk for relatively cheap.

Plastic sheet liner. This item is not necessary, but we prefer to line our work space with some trash bags or disposable plastic bags just to keep things as sanitary as possible.

Gloves. Here’s another item that is not strictly needed, but we certainly prefer to utilize when available for sanitary reasons.

You can wear latex or rubber gloves, but either way, we choose gloves that are fairly fitted to the skin. This is because a lot of the needlework can require a delicate touch and oversized bulky gloves can make this difficult.

Steps to creating a wet specimen

1. Thaw your reptile or amphibian if necessary. You will be injecting it with a preservative liquid, so if possible, you’ll want the animal to be soft to the touch and pliable, rather than stiff and frozen.

2. Empty a small amount of your preservative liquid of choice into a bowl or temporary holding container. You will be sucking up the liquid into your syringe very frequently, so we’ve found it’s easiest to have the liquid in an open container where your needles have easy access to it.

3. Uncap your syringe(s) and fill it with preservative. Begin either at the tail end of the animal or at the head and start injecting the preservative. Because your animal still contains all its internal organs, you’ll want to get your needles far enough into the body cavities so that the preservative is reaching those organs.

4. Inject your reptile or amphibian’s body cavities until you feel that it is full enough of preservative. This means getting inside the cranium, the abdomen, and even inside the cloaca if necessary.

injecting a wet specimen
This snake is being injected with ethyl alcohol in its cranial cavity. For the best results, your entire specimen should be filled with fixative.

There’s not really a way to be one hundred percent sure that your specimen is done being filled. It’s sort of something you gauge by examining and feeling the animal itself. It should begin to “fill out” and sometimes you can even feel the preservative inside to know where you need more.

5. Position your reptile of amphibian inside the container in a position you desire it to remain. Many animals will gently float within the preservative liquid, while others, like snakes, can be coiled up within the jar.

6. Fill the holding container up with enough preservative to cover the reptile or amphibian. If your animal is floating, we recommend filling the entire container up to the lid, otherwise you can just fill it enough to cover your specimen.

7. Put the lid on your container and your wet specimen is ready to display! We would like to mention that often times, the first liquid you fill your jar with will need to be drained and replaced after a few weeks. It’s not uncommon for the liquid to be discolored when the animal is “settling in” so to speak, but you can always drain and replace if you want pristine, clear preservative liquid.

How to create a “dry” specimen from a deceased reptile or amphibian

Transforming your pet or other humanely sourced reptile or amphibian into a dry specimen through methods such as articulation, taxidermy, mummification, or another similar practice is far more complicated than producing a wet specimen. And quite honestly, it takes a far more practiced and knowledgeable individual to perform such tricky jobs. Therefore, for the purposes of this blog article, we’ll simply touch upon how to convert your animal into a clean set of bones.

ethically sourced roadkill
Not all preserved animals are deceased pets. This rattlesnake was ethically sourced roadkill and was transformed into a dry specimen.

There is always the old fashioned method of burying the animal and allowing nature to run its course. You can always put your deceased animal into a shoebox or other type of container, bury it for a few months, let the creepy crawlies do their job, and unearth the container later.

Personally, although a simple burial is the most hassle free approach, we prefer faster methods. Not only can it take some time for your specimen to decompose depending on the size of the animal, but there is always the chance that something could go wrong. For instance, if your burial ground is not confined to say, your backyard, hungry wild animals can and will come along and dig up your animal. Then you’ve likely lost your specimen altogether.

We prefer to clean the deceased animal ourself and feed the remains to dermestid beetles. These are a special type of insect that feed upon decaying flesh. They will essentially clean your animal of its skin and other material in a matter of days, leaving you with clean bones.

There are many sources where you can purchase dermestid beetles, but pretty much all of them will be online. We recommend purchasing from a seller who has a track record and instructions on how to feed the beetles because this means they have experience and likely won’t sell you beetles with parasites.

Once you’ve acquired your beetles and created a habitat for them, you will need to skin your animal, especially if it is a snake. Amphibians are a bit easier to work with and won’t require as much work.

The beetles prefer drier meals, so if you are able to safely allow your specimen to dry out for a day or two prior to placing it in the beetle’s enclosure, they will make quicker work of the carcass.

Please be aware that with small animals like frogs, delicate lizards, and other tiny reptiles or amphibians, you might only end up with a skull left over. Sometimes the bones of the body are too delicate or cartilaginous to survive this process.

You can certainly clean your animal to the best of your ability of its internal organs and skin and boil it as well. However, we really don’t recommend this method for reptiles as the bones tend to be so small and delicate that it can be quite a tricky process and might ruin your bones.

Reptile and amphibian skeletons

If you’re just looking for the skeleton to be preserved, there are cleaner insects called dermestid beetles that clean dead animal carcasses to the bone. It’s a fairly clean process, and the beetles can be purchased online.


There are many ways to preserve and memorialize your pet reptile or amphibian. Whether you choose to try to transform them into a wet specimen or just save their bones, please keep in mind that this article is a beginner’s guide and not an expert tutorial.

chameleon wet specimen
This is a completed wet specimen of an elephant ear chameleon that died of natural causes. Rigor mortis set in before the animal was able to be effectively preserved, so the specimen is a bit more sunken in appearance.

Conclusion: How To Preserve A Reptile Or Amphibian

If you truly want your animal’s likeness preserved in the most effective manner possible, we recommend finding a specialist in your area that has experience in such matters.

Most Common Reptile and Amphibian Care Mistakes

Because we pride ourselves on our knowledge and ability to care for the animals we sell, we answer a lot of questions at Backwater Reptiles ranging from how to care for species X to what to feed animal Y.

One thing we’ve discovered throughout the years is that many people receive false information on their new pet and therefore come to us for help. Often times, this erroneous information is easily corrected and the problem is solved simply.

This leads us to the subject matter of this particular blog article. In the paragraphs to come, we’ll discuss many of the common mistakes people make when caring for reptiles and amphibians as well as how to avoid making them yourself.

Feeding Incorrectly

Probably the most common mistake made by many new or inexperienced reptile and amphibian owners centers on feeding the animal in question.

Clearly not all reptiles and amphibians eat the same thing, so the first thing to take into consideration if you have a picky eater is if you are feeding it the right type of food.

Although it’s true that the majority of pet lizards are carnivores, not all lizards eat insects. Some are actually herbivores and will get sick if you feed them too much protein.

Examples of common herbivores that are frequently mis-fed protein-based diets include: iguanas, Uromastyx lizards, blue tongue skinks, and tortoises. While it is true that many of these species will consume meat if given the opportunity, that doesn’t mean it’s good for them. In fact, herbivorous species can go into liver failure and will also have diarrhea to the point of dehydration if you feed them high protein diets.

juvenile green iguana
Green iguanas are herbivores and should not be fed a protein-based diet. Make sure you are feeding your reptile or amphibian the proper diet by doing your research before adopting.

So, do your research and be sure your reptile is a carnivore before giving it a cricket-based diet.

Another food-related issue we hear about from customers is offering food of the wrong size. While snakes can stretch their jaws and consume prey that is larger than their own head, the same is definitely not true for lizards, tortoises, frogs, toads, and turtles.

Would you give a toddler an entire piece of steak to eat? No, you would most certainly cut it up into manageable pieces that the child can easily chew, swallow and digest. The same should be true of your pet reptiles and amphibians. Baby chameleons should not be given full-sized crickets to consume and large monitor lizards shouldn’t be given tiny fruit flies. It’s basic common sense.

Well, if your pet is mid-sized, you still might be wondering what size food to give it, right? There’s actually a very simply rule to follow when feeding your reptile or amphibian. The size of the insect being offered should be no larger than the width between the eyes of the animal being fed.

So what about if you feed your pet pre-made reptile chow? For instance, commercially made crested gecko, tortoise and turtle pellets, and even vitamin powders for all sorts of reptiles are commonly sold at pet stores. So, are these good for your pet?

The short answer is that, yes, commercially prepared reptile food is perfectly acceptable. However, sometimes pet reptiles, particularly those that were wild-caught and not captive bred, will not eat pet store food. We want our readers and customers to be aware that just because these types of foods exist, they are most certainly not the only option.

Even if your pet does readily consume prepackaged food, we do still recommend alternating and supplementing with freshly prepared food. Variety is key to keeping your reptile happily fed and healthy and anytime your pet refuses food, we always recommend offering a new type of food before taking drastic measures.

Hydrating Improperly

Now that we’ve discussed common feeding mistakes, let’s touch on common hydrating mistakes.

You might not think over-watering your reptile or amphibian would be a problem, but it actually can be!

Did you know that too much moisture in your pet’s cage creates the perfect environment for mold, mildew, and other bacteria to grow? Not only are these pathogens not good for the health of your pet, they’re not good for your health either.

So, if you notice that some mold is growing within the enclosure, clean it right away! More than likely, you’ll also then need to replace your substrate. Odds are it was too wet. An ideal substrate moisture level for most species of amphibians is wet but not dripping. You’ll want to be able to pick up the substrate and feel moisture in your hands but there should never be dripping water.

Too little moisture is also bad for herps of all species. Even desert-dwelling species require some sort of humidity level, albeit it’s usually less than that of a tropical species.

Because different species have different moisture requirements, the best way to know if your pet is getting enough humidity and moisture in its environment is to do your research.

One very specific instance that inexperienced herp owners can encounter is how to hydrate a pet chameleon. Because chameleons are so temperamental, maintaining the proper moisture level is tantamount to keeping them healthy.

male jacksons chameleon
Many people make the mistake of giving their chameleon a water dish to drink from. Unfortunately, this can result in dehydration as chameleons won’t drink from a dish.

You will need to mist the chameleon’s enclosure regularly to provide the lizard with water to drink and to cultivate proper humidity levels.

Giving a chameleon a water bowl is pointless as it won’t recognize it as a source of water. Instead, there has to be enough moisture present in the cage to collect on the leaves so that the chameleon can lap it up.

Providing an Improper Enclosure

Housing and where we live is important to us as humans, right? Well, the same is true of our pet reptiles and amphibians.

First of all, size of the enclosure is a very important factor to consider when keeping a pet reptile or amphibian. Although you’re usually safe if your cage is too big, the opposite rule does not hold true. A vivarium that is too small can be detrimental to the well-being of your pet.

A common mistake many people make is purchasing a juvenile or hatchling monitor, green iguana, or tegu. While these lizards do make excellent pets, they grow extremely fast and when they reach full-capacity, they essentially need an entire room or a custom built enclosure to stay happy and healthy.

young savannah monitor
Many animals like this juvenile Savannah monitor start out small enough to fit into the palm of your hand, but will grow at a rapid rate. This means that they will require a large, custom-built enclosure when fully mature.

Please do your research and be prepared to house and care for your pet reptile for the duration of its life regardless of its size. Know how big your pet will grow and make sure you can accommodate it once it reaches maturity.

It might seem almost humorous if it weren’t true, but we also get a fair amount of emails from customers stating that their pet has escaped. More often than not, it’s a pet snake or lizard as these tend to be escape artists.

So, how would a good reptile parent prevent escape from occurring? You’ll just need to make sure your cage has a tight-fitting and secure lid. Any type of cage that latches should also always be latched and “locked” because reptiles are stronger and more resourceful than they appear.

Here’s another very specific housing mistake that reptile novices can make – many newbies to the reptile husbandry world aren’t aware that chameleons require a special type of mesh cage. They need plenty of air circulation and a glass cage will promote stagnant air rather than fresh air. In the long run, this can lead to respiratory issues. So be sure that if you have a pet chameleon, its cage is constructed of mesh and not glass.

Improper Handling

It might seem silly to have to say this, but not all reptiles and amphibians enjoy being picked up and handled by people. There are a multitude of species commonly kept as pets that we’d consider “look not touch” animals.

There are many species that just do better in captivity when left to their own devices. Being poked and held by human beings just stresses them out and can actually be harmful to the animal’s health.

Some good examples of reptiles and amphibians that we recommend handling minimally include: anole lizards, all species of newts, aquatic frogs, basilisk lizards, and small, skittish species of lizards.

If you do happen to have a reptile that interacts well with people such as a bearded dragon, leopard gecko, boa, python, or tortoise, there is in fact a wrong way to handle these creatures.

The number one rule to follow that many people fail to adhere to is to support the animal fully, no matter the species. For instance, although their body shape might suggest otherwise, snakes don’t like to dangle. When you hold your pet snake, its entire body should be coiled around your wrist, hand, or arm so that it feels secure.

zebra tailed lizard
If you are going to hold a species such as this zebra-tailed lizard that is not well-known for being an interactive and responsive pet, we highly recommend holding it against a flat surface as pictured. This way the lizard doesn’t dangle in any way and can feel fully supported and safe and will be less likely to behave skittishly.

You’ll also want to support lizards, tortoises, and turtles too. If your turtle or tortoise is too large to sit comfortably within your palm, it’s probably best to leave it be as you don’t want the animal to feel like it’s treading air due to having no foothold.

Sometimes reptiles can be nippy or seemingly aggressive when first being removed from their cage. Keep in mind that this behavior is a natural defense mechanism for these animals and if you are determined to hold your pet, exercise patience when working with them.

Through experience we’ve found that moving slowly and making deliberate attempts not to startle your reptile as you enter its cage is the best way to pick up an animal that spooks easily. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that grabbing it quickly will eliminate nipping, clawing, or struggling.

Keeping Multiple Animals Together

Because it can be tough to determine the gender of young reptiles and amphibians if they are not a sexually dimorphic species, it’s always a gamble to keep multiple animals together in the same enclosure.

Do you intend to breed your animals? If so, don’t make the mistake of assuming you automatically have a male and female. Take your pet to the vet to have its gender checked if you are unsure. Many species of reptiles and amphibians are territorial and accidentally placing two males together could actually incite aggression between the two animals to the point that they harm one another.

We’ve also heard customers tell us tales of surprise babies or eggs! They just thought their lizard, snake, or amphibian was chubby, but then they discover that the reason their pet was a little portly was due to being pregnant,  or as we refer to it in reptile terms, gravid. Generally, this is a pleasant surprise and then we get amusement and gratification out of informing them that sometimes the animals are shipped out gravid or that they must have been keeping a male and female together in the same cage unintentionally.

It’s also important to know if the species you are keeping is gregarious or not. Some reptiles and amphibians are more social than others and will thrive in environments where there are multiple animals around, but others will become territorial, stressed out, and even cannibalistic.

We recommend that if you plan to keep several animals of the same species in a single enclosure that it is not only big enough to accommodate them, but that the animals themselves are OK with it.


The goal with many of the blog articles we write is to educate the public and potential reptile and amphibian owners before they make mistakes that harm or injure any animals.

We sincerely hope that this article has taught you a thing or two to avoid and watch out for if you do plan on adopting a reptile or amphibian in the near future.

And as always, we highly recommend doing the research on the species you plan to adopt before you purchase.

Top Ten Most Famous Fictional Reptiles and Amphibians

Reptiles and amphibians have become a part of pop culture appearing in everything from music videos to television commercials. The funny thing is that until you really sit down and think about it, you probably wouldn’t even notice.

Because we’re obsessed with all things herpetology-insired at Backwater Reptiles, we’re devoting this blog article to the topic of the top ten most famous fictional reptiles and amphibians in pop culture.

So, in no particular order, here are our picks for the top ten most famous fictional herps in recent memory.

Top Ten Most Famous Fictional Reptiles and Amphibians

Kermit the Frog

Young children to grown adults are probably familiar with the very famous muppet frog named Kermit created by the late Jim Henson.

First appearing in the year 1955, Kermit rose to fame as the leader of the Muppets and became famous for his love affair with an equally famous muppet by the name of Miss Piggy.

Top Ten Most famous reptiles and amphibians
Kermit the Frog is a lovable, green, muppet frog. He is often the sensible leader of the muppets and is in love with Miss Piggy. Definitely one of the most famous fictional amphibians.

Kermit has appeared in many TV shows including The Muppet Show, Muppet Babies, and Sesame Street. He also stars in The Muppet Movie and each subsequent movie incarnation featuring muppets.

Kermit is perhaps most famous and well-known (at least by the older generation) for his chart-topping singles “The Rainbow Connection” and “Bein’ Green.”

Originally performed by the legendary Jim Henson himself, Kermit is now performed by Steve Whitmire since Henson’s passing in 1990.

In addition to appearances on all of his own shows and films, Kermit has been a guest star and made cameos in countless other productions. He has been interviewed on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and also played on Hollywood Squares.

And if fifty plus years of pop culture involvement doesn’t make Kermit famous enough for you, he’s even met Michelle Obama in 2014! Not too many frogs can say they’ve had the opportunity to shake the hand of the First Lady!

Kermit the frog also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and had his own set of collector postage stamps issued on his 50th birthday in 2005.

The Geico Gecko

Although we might not know his name, it’s fair to say that anyone who has a TV or watched an online video has likely seen the Geico Gecko in a commercial. You know him – he’s that little green day gecko who tries to persuade you to purchase car insurance in a very sensible manner.

geico gecko
The Geico Gecko is at heart a salesman, so don’t be surprised when his tagline of “Fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent on car insurance” gets stuck in your head.

Making his first appearance in 1999, the Geico Gecko has evolved and changed into an anthropomorphic, computer animated cartoon with a cute British accent.

Although Geico has featured other personalities and characters in its ad campaigns, we think it’s safe to say that the Geico Gecko is not only the cutest and most memorable, but the one with the most staying power as well.


Rango is the lead character from the animated feature film of the same name. Rango is voiced by Johnny Depp and his tale is that of a misplaced pet chameleon who ends up in the wild west trying to help the locals recover their water supply. Along the way, he encounters many other animated animals including a female desert iguana named Beans and a gunslinging rattlesnake named Rattlesnake Jake.

Johnny Depp voices the chameleon Rango. The film is a western in which the title character, Rango, gets stranded in the desert and comes into contact with some interesting animals.

While Rango might not be as popular a character as other animated animals such as Mickey Mouse or Dory from Finding Nemo, Rango certainly holds his own in the world of animated, anthropomorphic animals.

Rango is such a quirky character with a unique story that the film even won best animated feature in 2011. And we’re all for any movie starring a chameleon – animated or not!


Okay, we’ll admit Godzilla might better be classified as a monster instead of a reptile, but we think he bears enough resemblance to our herp friends that he qualifies for this list.

Godzilla originated in a Japanese film of the same name in the year 1954 and has since become a cultural icon. He has made appearances in many movies (American and Japanese), comics, and even TV shows.

2014 godzilla
This is the modern iteration of Godzilla from the American 2014 film. We think he’s much more menacing here than when he’s portrayed by an actor in a costume.

When Godzilla was first conceived, he was mainly meant to serve as a metaphor and commentary on the threat of nuclear weapons. However, with time, the reptilian monster took on many more nuanced aspects including playing an antihero, a purely destructive villain, and even a defender of humanity.

Godzilla has evolved over time from being played by a man in a suit to his latest American incarnation where he is an elaborate computer simulated masterpiece. No matter how technologically advanced Godzilla might become, he’s still one very famous reptile and we are excited to see the next movie he stars in.

Tick Tock, the Crocodile 

There are many iterations of the classic story of Peter Pan in the film and TV world. And many of the stories have some version of a crocodile that ate Captain Hook’s hand leaving him with his famous hook.

For the purposes of this article, we’re going to discuss the 1953 Disney animated version of Peter Pan and the crocodile Tick Tock.

tick tock the croc
Here we see Tick Tock the Croc eagerly awaiting a chance to take another bite out of Captain Hook.

At some point, Tick Tock the croc managed to eat an alarm clock. This has left him with a permanent “tick” and a delightfully catchy tune that accompanies him whenever he appears on screen.

Tick Tock might not get much screen time in the movie, but when he does appear, he definitely steals the scene!

Wally Gator

Wally Gator is an old school Hanna-Barbera cartoon that first appeared on TV in the 1960s. Wally lives in the city zoo and is watched over by the zookeeper Mr. Twiddle who has to make sure Wally doesn’t get into too much trouble when he leaves the zoo.

wally gator
Wally Gator is a famous Hanna-Barbera cartoon that aired in the 1960s.

Nowadays, Wally isn’t really seen too much on TV, mainly due to issues with remastering the series. Fans of this anthropomorphic Cajun alligator still hope that a complete DVD set of the series featuring all fifty two episodes will be released at a future date.

Mr. Toad

The character of Mr. Toad actually originates in literature. He is one of the main characters in the book The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame and he is also the title character in the A.A. Milne play Toad of Toad Hall which is based upon the book.

Although he is a famous literary character, Mr. Toad has also made his way into many hearts by being animated into a Disney film entitled The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad. The film depicts Mr. Toad as an egocentric chaser of fads who is accused of car theft and ultimately winds up being acquitted. If you’ve ever been to Disneyland, there is an entire ride in Fantasyland based around the crazy antics that Mr. Toad gets himself into.

mr. toad
This is Disney’s version of Mr. Toad. As his eyes clearly indicate, Mr. Toad is about to get himself into some trouble.

Ultimately, Mr. Toad is portrayed as a lovable but selfish rogue. He gets himself into trouble, but not too much trouble. The people who live with him put up with him and have come to accept his behavior as normal although he is constantly obsessed with something or other.

Kaa the Snake

Kaa is another famous fictional reptile born out of literature. He makes his debut in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, a tale many of us have come to know through countless adaptations on the big screen.

Probably the most famous incarnation of Kipling’s Kaa is in the 1967 Disney animated feature film The Jungle Book. Not only is this movie filled with memorable songs, but Kaa is portrayed as less of a menacing character and more of a bumbling failure. Each time he tries to eat Mowgli, he is unsuccessful and flounders comically when his attempts are thwarted by Bagheera the panther.

In Disney’s version, Kaa the snake is not as menacing as he is in Kipling’s depiction.

The Disney animated version of Kaa even gets his very own song in the movie titled, “Trust in Me.”

Kaa’s lisping voice coupled with his hypnotic powers make him quite a memorable reptile, even if he is only a cartoon.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The popular eighties cartoon featuring the four teenage mutant ninja turtles – Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, and Raphael – has since been adapted to big budget feature films directed by established action-flick director Michael Bay.

The older generation will fondly remember the popular Ninja Turtles animated cartoon TV series that aired in the 1980s until 1996 and lasted a full ten seasons! This was a fairly light-hearted cartoon where the turtles ate pizza and fought crime. The cartoon was accompanied by a series of toys that became extremely popular. While the cartoon was on the air, the Ninja Turtles could be seen on everything from lunch boxes to T-shirts.

Aside from being television stars, the four Ninja Turtles have also starred in several movies. In the early nineties, they starred in three live-action films with partially animatronic likenesses portraying the iconic turtles. Jim Henson’s Creature Shop developed animatronic heads that were placed atop real actors and the result, while considered somewhat “cheesy” by today’s special effects standards, was quite cutting edge at the time.

teenage mutant ninja turtles
The Ninja Turtles got a reboot in 2014. This is how they appear in Michael Bay’s movie.

Since the three films in the nineties, director Michael Bay has resurrected the legacy of the Ninja Turtles within the last few years, giving Michelangelo, Donatello, Leonardo, and Raphael new life thanks to the magic of computer special effects and digital animation. The Ninja Turtles have become super heroes and action heroes in their own right.

Not only do the Ninja Turtles have quite a presence in TV and movies, they even starred in a series of video games. The Ninja Turtles were first seen in game form on the NES system and have since been found in arcade systems as well as more modern consoles like the Playstation and XBOX systems.


We’re pretty sure Yoshi isn’t a typical reptile. In fact, to be fair, he’s essentially a dinosaur, but we’re still including him on this list because he very closely resembles some of our lizard friends and we think he deserves recognition.

Yoshi is a creation of Nintendo. He’s a cute little green dinosaur who originally started out as Mario and Luigi’s side kick. He has since grown into a character with his own game series and personality to match.

One of Yoshi’s talents within the video game world is grabbing enemies with his long tongue.

Yoshi is known in the gaming world for his ability to eat virtually any enemy and produce a spotted egg which can then be used as a weapon. Like a chameleon, he has a sticky tongue that extends very far out of his mouth and allows him to grab food and enemies from very far away. He is also capable of behaving like a horse and Mario and Luigi can ride on his back if both characters are appearing in the same game.

Aside from appearing in the various Super Mario Brothers games, Yoshi has starred in his own Nintendo games such as “Yoshi’s Story” and “Yoshi’s Island.” He is also always a playable character in the Super Smash Brothers games as well as the Mario Kart series, both of which are games that feature a collection of Nintendo characters pitted against one another.


Even though all of the fictional reptiles on this list might not technically be considered true reptiles and/or amphibians, we think it’s great that herps have gotten recognition throughout the years and carved out such notable niches for themselves in pop culture.

So, whether your favorite herp appears on TV, in movies, in a video game, or even in a classic work of literature, be sure to note what a feat it is that they became so recognizable in the first place. The more reptiles and amphibians we see on a daily basis, whether fictional or real, the happier we are!

So, what did you think of our list of the top ten most famous reptiles and amphibians in pop culture? Was your favorite included? Any noteworthy or honorable mentions you think we should have included? Let us know in the comments section!

Pixie Frog Care (Pyxicephalus adspersus)

Pixie frog care isn’t complicated or difficult. These frogs are known for their insatiable appetites, large size, and inclination to eat virtually anything small enough to fit in their mouth. Overall, they make for very entertaining and lively pet frogs, which is why they are so popular in the reptile hobbyist world.

Thinking of buying a pixie frog of your own? Then you’ll need to know how to care for one of these amphibious eating machines. Continue reading this blog article to find out how we care for ours at the Backwater Reptiles facility.

Pixie Frog Care (Pyxicephalus adspersus)

Pixie Frog Description

Known mainly for their massive size at maturity, pixie frogs are true giants. They are the second largest frog in the world and can reach lengths up to ten inches and weigh approximately two pounds! That might not seem like much, but it’s tremendous for a frog.

The largest frog in the world is the Goliath frog from Cameroon (Africa). It’s basically a huge frog that likes to jump–imagine a normal adult American Bullfrog, except 2-3 times larger.


huge goliath frog
Here’s a Goliath frog in Cameroon.

Goliath frogs are actually illegal to export from Cameroon, and it’s just as well–they don’t fare well in captivity due to their habit of jumping several feet at a time. There just isn’t an enclosure large enough for them.

pixie frog care
Young pixie frogs like this one are not usually as chubby as their adult counterparts. They also have more prominent stripes and spotted markings that will usually fade with age.

It should also be noted that pixie frogs are known by several common monikers. You might hear them referred to as African bull frogs, African burrowing frogs, and sometimes South African Pyxies.

Pixies are usually an olive green color at maturity, but they can also be shades of brown, yellow, and even creamy beige. They have very thick, stocky, hefty bodies and as adults, their bellies tend to protrude, which can give them a somewhat blob-like shape at rest. When they are babies, they tend to be a dark green shade with dark striped accents and cream-colored tummies.

Pixie Frog Habitat

Pixie frogs hail from Africa where they spend most of their time burrowed underground. This means that they will require a substrate that accommodates this behavior. Eco-earth, fertilizer-free, organic potting soil, and even paper towels are all acceptable options.You’ll want the substrate to stay moist and damp, but not wet.

A humid environment is best for pixies. We recommend keeping the enclosure at around eighty percent humidity for best results. Regular misting of the substrate will help keep the moisture level in the proper range. We use a spritzer bottle filled with water and squirt the substrate itself, the glass walls of the tank, and sometimes even the frogs themselves.

It’s also wise to invest in a sturdy water dish that is wide and shallow. You won’t see your pixie drink the water, but it helps maintain humidity levels and also allows your pixie to have itself a soak if it wants to.

young pixie frog
This pixie is approximately four weeks old. The quarter is provided to show scale.

Although most pixies will simply burrow to hide themselves, we definitely recommend placing a hide space or two within your frog’s enclosure. Terra cotta pots, logs, and hides purchased from pet stores are all good options.

We use coconut husk fiber as substrate, at about two-inches deep. We keep the substrate damp throughout, but not dripping wet. If you notice the surface drying out, it’s a signal you’re not keeping the substrate damp enough.

If your frog senses a drier environment, it’ll cover itself in a type of cocoon layer to prevent moisture loss. This really shouldn’t happen in captivity. If you see it, make sure to make adjustments to prevent it from happening again.

Try to keep the tank in the temperature range of 74 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit. We keep them very successfully at room temperature.

Pixie Frog Feeding

If we haven’t already made it clear, pixie frogs love to eat! In the wild, they are ambush predators and will sit around until something comes their way that they can fit into their mouth. This means their prey items range from invertebrates to small birds!

Because they are not active animals, you will have to be careful not to overfeed your pixie frog. In fact, you’ll have to keep a close eye on your frog’s weight because pixies are prone to obesity.

We feed our pixies a staple diet of appropriately-sized insects, depending on the size of the frog. Our babies will eat mostly crickets, mealworms, and waxworms. Adults will eat crickets, hornworms, roaches, and wax worms.

Some people will feed their pixies pinkies or fuzzies, but we recommend this only as an occasional treat item. Again, pixies will eat to the point of being unhealthy, and fatty, high calorie items like mice will only contribute to the problem. Moderation is key.

Pixie Frog Disposition

As a general rule, most pet frogs don’t take well to human interaction or handling. We’ve found that with pixies, it tends to be a mixed bag. Some pixies don’t tend to mind being picked up, while others are quite opposed to the idea.

adult pixie frog
Adult pixies can be held, but beware of putting your fingers near their mouth as they can deliver quite a powerful bite.

If you do want to handle your pixie on a regular basis, be sure it is supported fully. A flailing frog is not a happy frog. We also recommend washing your hands before and after picking up your pixie for the safety of both human and frog.

We’d also like to say that pixies have nasty bites. Be sure that when you pick up your frog that you keep wiggling fingers that could be mistaken for food away from its mouth.

However, I’ve picked-up hundreds of Pixie frogs spanning all sizes, and I’ve never had one attempt to bite or put on a threat posture.

These frogs rarely fight with each other, or have territory issues. If you keep more than one in an enclosure, just make sure you’re feeding them well. Don’t keep noticeably different sizes together because, as mentioned, they’ll eat anything they can fit into their mouths–including their own species.

Conclusion – Pixie frog care

Pixie frogs make excellent, fascinating, long-lived pets. They’re really fun to raise from babies to full-grown chubby adults. Feeding time is always entertaining when you have a pixie–a definite crowd-pleasing event!

If you’re interested in purchasing a pixie frog of your own, Backwater Reptiles sells both captive bred hatchlings and adults. You won’t be disappointed with this behemoth of a species!

Oddest Pet Frogs

At Backwater Reptiles, we love reptiles and amphibians of all shapes and sizes, regardless of whether or not most people would label them as cute. In fact, some of our favorites are the oddballs!

In this article, we’re going to list our favorite odd-looking pet frogs. Although these frogs are not for everyone, each of them is certainly unique.

The Oddest Pet Frogs

Budgett’s Frog (Lepidobatrachus laevis)

This jelly-like frog is also known as the hippo frog and the Freddy Krueger frog. We’re not quite sure where the hippo moniker arises from, but this frog is nicknamed after the infamous horror villain because its long fingers are reminiscent of his knife hands. This frog also packs quite an attitude and is known to be aggressive and mean. It opens its wide mouth as big as possible and emits what is best described as a scream in an effort to scare off threats.

oddest pet frogs
As you can see from this photo, Budgett’s frogs very closely resemble blobs of jelly, making it one of the more odd pet frogs.

In addition to this interesting defense mechanism, Budgett’s frogs are memorable because they are just so strange-looking. Besides having bodies built like blobs, they have tiny protuberant eyes on top of their heads. And because they rarely leave the water, they can appear somewhat soggy to boot.

But we want to stress that even though Budgett’s frogs are unusual, both in appearance and in behavior, they still make rewarding and fascinating pets.

If you are interested in caring for a Budgett’s frog of your own, Backwater Reptiles does sell them. And we even wrote an entire blog article dedicated to their care.

Mozambique Rain Frog (Breviceps mossambicus)

We’re huge fans of the Mozambique rain frog because it is such a comical amphibian. Not only is this an adorably silly-looking frog, it also has some charming behaviors that many people find extremely endearing, albeit weird.

Rain frogs are known as “grumpy frogs” and have several variations of memes circulating around the internet to comment on their squashed, flat, surly little faces. Besides their squashed faces, rain frogs possess somewhat balloon-ish bodies with pigeon-toed feet. They’re almost reminiscent of froggy bulldogs.

mozambique rain frog
Mozambique rain frogs have balloon-like bodies and pigeon-toed feet. We think this makes them look like little bulldog frogs.

Oh, and did we mention that rain frogs squeak rather than croak like a typical frog? Some people say that the rain frog’s call sounds like a kitten’s cry or a tiny squeal. No matter what you think it sounds like, most people agree that the noise is simply adorable.

Because rain frogs are relatively new to the reptile and amphibian pet world, we actually wrote an entire article dedicated to their care.

And if you’re wondering where you can get a pet Mozambique rain frog of your own, Backwater Reptiles can definitely help you out.

Surinam Giant Toad (Pipa pipa)

Everything about the Suriname toad is odd. This toad (which is actually a frog) looks weird, it behaves weird, and it even reproduces weird! We think that they make awesome pets simply because you’ll have so many curious factoids about them to tell to your friends and family.

The first thing you’ll notice when you see a Suriname toad is that it is a flat frog. And we do mean that quite literally. It has a triangular, flat head and its body is also very pancake-like.This is an adaptation to allow the frog to appear like leaf litter or wooden detritus on the bottom of the bodies of water where it resides. It also helps the frog to be stream-lined.

Even if you never get your pet Surinam toad to reproduce, you should be aware that these frogs produce their babies in a very unconventional manner.  After an elaborate mating ritual, the eggs stick to the female’s back and sink into a honeycomb shaped “nest” in her skin. The eggs will stay there on her back in the protective honeycomb until fully formed froglets emerge! Suriname toads don’t go through a tadpole phase.

If you want a pet Suriname toad to call your own, be sure to check out our blog article detailing how to care for them.

pipa pipa
Suriname toads are flat like pancakes. Nobody can deny that these are some strange-looking frogs!


We hope that this article shows you that just because a frog is kind of bizarre-looking, that doesn’t make it a bad pet. In our opinion, being odd just makes these frogs that much more lovable. We hope that you agree, and that you’ve enjoyed perusing our list of the oddest pet frogs in the world!

Fire Bellied Toad Care (Bombina orientalis)

Wondering how to care for your Fire-bellied toad? Although they are commonly called “toads,” they are in fact, frogs. They make excellent pets, particularly for first time amphibian owners and we highly recommend them to herpers of all ages and experience levels.

If you’re wondering how to care for this colorful frog, simply read on as we’ve devoted this article to discussing their care requirements in captivity.

Fire Bellied Toad Care Sheet

Fire Belled Toad Description

The fire bellied toad, which should probably actually be named the “fire bellied frog” gets its common name from its hard to miss red belly speckled with black spots. This red tummy is meant as a warning to potential predators that the frog is toxic and shouldn’t be eaten, although this toxin is so mild that humans don’t have a reaction to it. The frog’s back is also a very bright colored green covered with black splotches and spots. Fire bellied toads are quite striking little amphibians.

fire bellied toad care
Fire bellied toads have green dorsal sides with black spots and bright red undersides with black spots. We’ll describe in detail how to care for this species.

Fire bellies are small frogs which makes them ideal for pet owners who have limited space. A mature frog will usually get to be between one and two inches long. They have average life spans of anywhere from seven to fifteen years in captivity.

Unlike many frog species, fire bellies are diurnal and therefore awake and active during the day. This means that as a pet owner, you actually get to see your frog go about its every day activities. It’s especially nice to not have to wait for the sun to go down to hear your frog’s calls or to watch it eat.

Fire Bellied Toad Habitat

As we’ve already mentioned, fire bellied toads are actually frogs and therefore require a more aquatic habitat. A typical enclosure for a fire belly should actually be half aquatic. Most owners will set up a tank that has water in half with a slope of substrate that terminates in a solid ground area. This is because fire bellied toads are extremely happy when they can float in water with their back legs and toes just barely touching something solid underneath.

These small frogs don’t require a lot of space to be happy. You can comfortably house up to three fire bellies in a ten gallon aquarium and up to six in a twenty gallon tank.

fire bellied toad
This photo shows off the red and black underside of the fire bellied toad.

It’s not necessary to provide a basking area for fire bellied toads. However, you will want to maintain a reasonable ambient temperature. During the day, the tank should be kept at 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and at night, the tank can drop to 60 to 68 degrees. You should monitor the temperature with a heat gun, which is a tool that every reptile or amphibian owner needs to keep handy.

Fire Bellied Toad Feeding

Despite their small size, fire bellied toads have rather fierce appetites. They are ambush predators and will lunge at any sign of movement that involves an item they think will fit in their mouth.

Fire bellied toads will readily consume virtually any insect. At Backwater Reptiles, our frogs are offered a staple diet of vitamin dusted crickets combined with aquatic worms. We supplement with small larvae and even cut up earth worms. Fire bellied toads will see virtually any invertebrate as food so long as they detect movement.

Fire Bellied Toad Temperament

Even though their red bellies scream “toxic” to potential predators, owners of fire bellied toads need not be concerned. The toxin produced by the frog is not harmful to people. So as long as you wash your hands after touching the frog and don’t put your fingers in your mouth after handling, the frog’s toxin is harmless.

Fire bellied toads are not at all aggressive towards people. However, we should say that being held is not one of their favorite activities. They won’t object much to being held aside from a little bit of squirming, but it’s best for all parties involved if you mostly allow your frog to be seen and not touched.

bombina orientalis
Fire bellied toads make awesome pets for beginning herp hobbyists and experienced reptile parents alike.


We’ve seen experienced herp hobbyists dismiss fire bellied toads as “common” pets simply because they are so widely available.If this species was rare, it would be one of the most sought-after amphibians in the world.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our Fire bellied toad care sheet. We think that these cute little frogs are excellent pets for beginners and experts alike. Ready for a fire bellied toad of your own? Backwater Reptiles has got you covered!


Frog and Toad Myths Debunked

At Backwater Reptiles, we love exotic critters of all types – arachnids, amphibians, and reptiles alike! However, some people are not so fond of our amphibious friends, frogs and toads. This could be because frogs and toads are not traditionally “cute” like most pets, or maybe it’s due to lack of education on the species.

No matter what reason someone might have for disliking frogs and toads, in this article, we’ll set out to explain some of the more popular frog and toad myths. Hopefully a little knowledge will help some people see frogs and toads in a new light.

Myth #1 – Frogs and toads cause warts

First off, let us say that through years of experience handling toads and frogs on pretty much a daily basis, this myth is just NOT true. Let us state that again – frogs and toads DO NOT cause warts! You can safely pick up any frog or toad no matter how wet, sticky, or dirty it appears to be and you can rest easy knowing that your hands and face will be free of warts.

frog and toad myths debunked
As you can see, this baby Pixie frog (Pyxicephalus adspersus) is not giving this handler warts of any kind. Another amphibian myth debunked.

Warts are actually caused by a virus. Frogs and toads are not capable of transmitting this virus. So, essentially, you could get warts by interacting with another human being, but interacting with an amphibian will not give them to you.

Myth #2 – Frogs and toads are slimy

This myth is only partially false. Toads tend to be “dryer” than frogs and this is because frogs live closer to bodies of water and are usually moister than toads. Toads have bumpier, rougher skin and tend to stay out of the water for the most part. So, the bottom line is that you might encounter a wet frog, but you’ll probably only encounter a moist toad.

We also want to mention that even though frogs are wetter than toads, that does not make them slimy. They are not sticky and don’t leave mucous behind on your hands if you hold them.

smooth sided toad
This Smooth Sided Toad (Bufo guttatus) is not slimy and not leaving residue on its handler. Frogs and toads might be moist or wet, but they are not mucous-y like a snail.

So, the takeaway from this myth debunking is: frogs and toads might be moist or wet due to the nature of their skin, but they won’t be slimy. No residue will be left on your skin.

Myth #3 – Toads and frogs are associated with witch craft

While frogs and toads might hold certain places of honor in the world of Harry Potter, in real life, toads and frogs are just like any other creature that has a bad reputation. Take for instance black cats. We all know that it’s just a superstition that a black cat crossing your path means bad luck. The same principle holds true for frogs and toads.

In fact, in some cultures frogs and toads are actually good omens or signs of good luck! Just goes to show you that it depends on your upbringing and belief system and not the animal itself.

Myth #4 – Licking a toad will cause you to hallucinate

This myth actually has a somewhat factual basis. Both frogs and toads can be deadly if handled improperly due to poisons secreted through their skins.

For example, the poison dart frog is very aptly named. This group of frog species secretes a poison through its skin that is toxic to all kinds of animals if ingested or allowed to get into the bloodstream.

However, it’s not a hallucinogen, so licking a poison dart frog will more than likely kill you or make you very ill instead of make you high.

strawberry dart frog
Although dart frogs are poisonous in the wild, in captivity they lose this trait. We definitely do not recommend licking a frog or toad regardless of whether or not the animal is poisonous.

On the other hand, many species of toads actually secrete a substance called bufotoxin through glands behind their eyes when they are stressed or threatened.

This toxin is deadly when “raw” and many family pets are actually killed each year from accidentally ingesting bufotoxins from Cane toads. What can happen is, the toad will actually try to eat the dry dog or cat food from their outside dishes (yes, these toads will eat dog food), and the dog or cat will then defend its food by biting the toad. Bad move.

However, bufotoxins can technically be processed scientifically and are then considered hallucinogens, so this myth is partially true. Colorado River toads are notorious for their bufotoxins and are actually banned in some states.

You can lick a toad or frog in an attempt to get high and hallucinate, but more than likely you’ll just end up in the hospital. Lesson: don’t lick toads.

Conclusion – Frog and Toad Myths

We think that frogs and toads make awesome pets, so we hope that this blog article has helped shed some light on common myths surrounding them.

Frogs and toads are just amphibians trying to survive like any other animal. We don’t think they deserve to be shunned or avoided just because someone once told you that touching them gives you warts!




Most Colorful Pet Frogs

Frogs of all shapes and sizes make fun and unique pets. But since many people can find some type of frog in their local neighborhood, the most popular frogs are the ones that are not as common and that attract attention. In our experience, this means the colorful frogs are the biggest hits with hobbyists.

In this article, we will discuss our most popular, most colorful pet frogs sold at Backwater Reptiles.

Painted Mantella (Mantella madagascariensis)

The painted mantella is a small frog that packs a colorful punch. Their dark black bodies are decorated with orange blocks on their hind legs and bright green on their front legs and face. The overall effect is quite beautiful. No wonder these little frogs are called “painted.”

most colorful pet frogs
Painted mantellas are a memorable species of pet frog known for both their tiny size and bold color combinations.

Like most frogs that are kept as pets, painted mantellas are “look not touch” animals. Due to their delicate size, mantellas will see human hands as predators and are therefore skittish. You are likely to drop the frog or accidentally injure it if you attempt to interact with your mantella often. We recommend handling them only to clean their cage or on special occasions.

Strawberry Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobates pumilio)

Dart frogs come in a variety of colors. The strawberry dart frog has a strawberry red body (hence its common name) with dark blue/black limbs. Its torso is often speckled with dark spots as well.

strawberry dart frog
As this photo demonstrates, strawberry dart frogs are not usually larger than a quarter!

Although they are dubbed poisonous, dart frogs in captivity actually lose their toxicity. Because they are eating a different diet, they are unable to synthesize the toxins that they secrete through their skin in the wild, making them harmless to people.

It might seem that a frog species this small would be tough to feed, but we find that ours will accept a diet of fruit flies and pinhead crickets quite readily.

Clown Tree Frog (Hyla leucophyllata)

The common phase of clown tree frogs found in the pet herp industry is a dark red/orange/dusky brown color with white/cream colored accent blotches. The body of this morph tends to be the darker tone while the extremities are more of a cherry red tone.

pet clown tree frog
Clown tree frogs are moderately-sized tree frogs with hardy dispositions.

Of all the species on this list, we feel that the clown tree frog is probably the most interactive pet frog. It is a hardy and common frog in its native habitat and this translates well to captive bred animals. Like nearly all frog species, we wouldn’t go so far as to say that clown tree frogs enjoy being held, per se, but they tolerate it well. This species is not so delicate that you will risk harming the animal if you pick it up. They are also probably the least skittish of all the species on this list, although they are still fast and can jump far when they want to, so take special care when you do handle your clown tree frog.

Tiger Leg Tree Frog (Phyllomedusa hypochondrialis)

Tiger leg tree frogs hail from the Amazonian rain forest and make spectacular tropical pets that will surely impress your friends and family.

These beautiful frogs have green bodies with orange sides flecked with black speckles. They also have cream-colored bellies and eyes with cat-like vertical pupils. They are quite remarkable in appearance.

Tiger leg tree frogs will grow to a moderate size. It’s common for them to be anywhere from one and half to two and half inches long. Females are also usually larger than males.

handling a tiger leg tree frog
Tiger leg tree frogs are sleepy during the day, which makes them easier than most frogs to handle. However, they do have fairly delicate dispositions, so we don’t recommend holding them too often.

If you are a night owl, a tiger leg tree frog might just be the perfect pet frog for you. They are distinctly nocturnal by habit, so they will be active at night. During the day, it’s likely your tiger leg tree frog will attach itself to a leaf and happily snooze the day away.

If you are interested in a pet tiger leg tree frog and want to learn more about their care requirements in captivity, feel free to check out the blog article we wrote detailing how to take care of them.


While all herp species make good pets for different types of people, we’re willing to bet that the colorful frogs on our list will be popular hits with nearly anyone.

If you are interested in creating a habitat for a colorful pet frog of your own, Backwater Reptiles sells painted mantellas, strawberry dart frogs, clown tree frogs, and tiger leg tree frogs. We’ll help get you started with any of these species.

Tiger Leg Tree Frog Care (Phyllomedusa hypochondrialis)

Looking for a Tiger leg tree frog care sheet? Many species of tree frogs are visually striking and colorful, but in our opinion, one of the neatest looking tree frogs is the Tiger leg tree frog (Phyllomedusa hypochondrialis).

We recommend tiger leg tree frogs as a pet for anyone who wants a flashy frog that they can show off to friends and family.

Read on to find out more about how to care for this tropical tree frog.

Tiger Leg Tree Frog Care

Tiger Leg Tree Frog Description

As we’ve already established, tiger leg tree frogs are definitely dazzling when you first see them. They have long, lean, lanky bodies and limbs with arresting, cat-like eyes with vertical pupils. But of course, the most stand-out feature of this tree frog is its bright orange sides and feet complete with black tiger-esque stripes or bars. Overall, the appearance of the tiger leg tree frog is impressive and memorable. We guarantee your friends will be amazed by this frog’s unique physical traits.

Due to their noctural lifestyle, tiger leg tree frogs sleep during the day. However, at night, they are quite active and you will be able to observe your frog eating, soaking in its water dish or bowl, and climbing around its enclosure. If you’re lucky enough to get a male tiger leg tree frog, you will also likely hear your frog vocalize at night.

tiger leg tree frog care
Tiger leg tree frogs are nocturnal and therefore will be sleepy during the day like the frog pictured. We reveal their care requirements in this blog article.

Tiger leg tree frogs are slow movers and tend to amble along rather than jump, although when they do, it’s with quite a powerful force and they can go quite far. This means that you will likely be safe to handle your frog during the day since it will be sleepy and more than likely just sit comfortably in the palm of your hand. Keep in mind though that frequent interaction with humans for any species of frog can prove stressful, so even if your tiger leg tree frog is friendly, we do recommend keeping the handling to a minimum just for the safety of this delicate frog species.

Tiger Leg Tree Frog Care: Habitat

Tiger leg tree frogs hail from the Amazonian rainforest and therefore require a tropical habitat.

When keeping a single frog, we recommend starting off with a standard glass tank with a screen top lid. Unless you are keeping more than six frogs, a twenty gallon tank will suffice. Your substrate can be as simple as moist paper towels, which will need to be changed regularly, or you can go with something more aesthetically pleasing like padded down sphagnum moss.

Your frog will enjoy having itself a nice little soak from time to time, so provide a water dish that is large enough to accomodate this behavior. In addition, you will want to make sure there are plenty of perches and/or plants to climb on inside the tank. Tiger leg tree frogs are arboreal, so they will spend quite a bit of time in the foliage or perches provided, especially during the day when they will be sleeping.

tiger leg tree frog
This photo shows off the brilliant orange sides and black stripes that give the tiger leg tree frog its common name.

Because they are nocturnal and have clear schedules, you should provide a photo period that replicates natural daylight hours. Keep a low strength light over one side of the enclosure that stays lit for ten to twelve hours daily.

The ambient temperature in the enclosure should stay between 75 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. You will also need to mist the enclosure at least once per day to keep the substrate moist and the humidity level around 50 to 80%.

Tiger Leg Tree Frog Care: Feeding

Like a typical tree frog, the tiger leg tree frog is an insectivore and will gladly eat virtually any insect you give it.

At Backwater Reptiles, we feed our tiger leg tree frogs gut-loaded crickets, mealworms, roaches, and sometimes wax worms for treats.

Phyllomedusa hypochondrialis
Tiger leg tree frogs are insectivores and will enjoy a diet of various insects.

Make sure that you offer your frog food at night when it will be active and ready to eat.

Juveniles should eat every day whereas adults can eat a few insects every other day.

Conclusion – Tiger leg tree frog care

Tiger leg tree frogs are fascinating and colorful pets. If you want a frog that you can enjoy showing off, a tiger leg tree frog just might be for you! We did our best detailing the care requirements of this tropical beauty, and we hope you found it useful.