Weekly “What is it?”: Frog Houses

Squirrel treefrogs gathering on a door frame. Photo credit, Steve Johnson, UF IFAS

Frogs really don’t ask for much. A puddle of water for their eggs and tadpoles, a few insects for dinner, and they are pretty much set. So, it stands to reason that providing extra habitat for them is relatively simple, too. If you see or hear treefrogs in your backyard or neighborhood and would like to see more, there’s an easy way to make a frog house. This technique is easy enough for young children and a great way to keep kids interested in the outdoors.

Treefrogs will easily adopt PVC pipe “frog houses” as backyard habitats. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson, UF IFAS Extension

All it takes is a few lengths of 1” or 1.25” diameter PVC pipe, a saw, and some (optional) paint. To build a frog house, biologists recommend taking a 2-3’ section of PVC and cutting a diagonal angle on one end. This will essentially turn the tube in a stake that can be driven into the soil with a mallet. These are the only steps needed for a basic frog house, and are based on a technique used for many years by herpetologists studying amphibian populations. The frogs are drawn to the protective, upright structure of the tube, then climb in and cling to the inside walls. The pipe provides a safe haven from potential predators.

This set of frog houses was mounted on a fence to provide a little variety and color in the garden. Photo credit: Carrie Stevenson, UF IFAS Extension

To jazz up your frog houses a little, you can paint them with spray paint labeled for plastic, or with exterior paint. Colorful floral or animal designs look great in a garden! As part of our recent “Flip My Florida Yard” project, I worked with the show’s host to build three frog houses to mount on a fence. These were composed of 18” lengths of PVC with the bottoms cut evenly. We placed a slip cap on the bottom, and drilled a water-release hole a few inches above the cap. This allows some water to stay in the pipe to provide moisture for the frogs, while not filling up the tube. After rains, the cap can be pulled off to drain the water, clean out the cap, and prevent mosquitoes from breeding. We painted the tubes, drilled a screw in the top, and mounted them on the fence.

An adult Cuban tree frog can be differentiated from native species by its coloring and large toepads. Photo credit: Steve Johnson, UF IFAS

In northwest Florida, you would expect to find green or squirrel tree frogs hiding out in the tubes. You may also come across an invader to our area, the Cuban tree frog. The Cuban tree frogs actually prey on our native species and their skin secretes a mucus that can trigger serious allergic reactions. If you think you’ve got one, please contact your local Extension Office for confirmation.


Posted: December 15, 2021

Category: Natural Resources
Tags: Weekly What Is It

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