(Sometimes we get sick. We hope you take care of us and help us get better. We really appreciate your help when we are not feeling well. Here is what my human looks for and what she does and you can too. Millie)

My doctor, Kevin Wright, DVM.

        Despite all your good care, your amphibian could still get sick or injured. What do you do? First of all, you need to determine if your frog or toad is in fact sick. If you observe your web footed friend and know his normal behavior, any unusual behavior may tip you off that he or she needs your help. Having provided a good home to many different types of frogs over many years I have tried to become alert to signs a frog needs help. These are some of them. The most important thing is to know your frog or toad and distinguish normal behavior from behavior that is not normal. In nature, amphibians try not to show that they are sick because weakness makes them easy prey so when they do demonstrate unusual behavior or signs of illness, they could be very sick.

   Some symptoms that could indicate a problem
(These are some but there could be others depending on the condition and any of these should be associated with other symptoms)

1. Usually, the first sign of trouble is that a sick or inured frog will stop eating. This is not always the case of course because your frog or toad may slow down on his eating because its that time of year or some other reason known only to your amphibian. An amphibian during "hibernation" for instance, can reduce his metabolism to almost nothing and need no food during this time. But, if this is not the case, and a formally healthy, hungry amphibian refuses the delicious food you offer him, then he may be in trouble. This is a judgment call on your part since you as the human who cares for him (or her as the case may be) will know your amphibians normal behavior best and what time of year it is. Try a variety of food. He may be bored with the same thing. If you think his eating is a sign he is sick, take a stool sample to the vet for microscopic examination. If your frog isn't making messes, you may need to take the whole frog.

Another early sign of a problem is that your amphibian is listless. Most frogs and toads are not keen on you bothering them and will react by jumping away or some other form of behavior which indicates they disapprove of your attempts of affection. Naturally there are times you must handle them but if your frog or toad hardly reacts to your ministrations, he may be feeling sick. And of course difficulty moving is a sure sign something is wrong.

2. Soaking much more than normal. An amphibian in dire straits seem to head for water when they are not feeling well. While amphibians love to soak which is of course how they drink, excessive bathing is unusual. This is especially true of tree frogs who bathe at night being the nocturnal creatures that they are, but return to their leaves when morning comes to rest or sleep the day away.

3. Obviously if your amphibian is injured, you will notice that right away. Perhaps they hurt themselves during their night time escapades or on some rough object in their home. Open wounds, deformed legs etc. will be something you will see right away when you give them your exceptional room service every day. Its a good idea to check on your frog or toad every day since they like to hide from us. However, much to their possible displeasure, its a good idea to make sure they are doing well during your room service routine.

4. Finding tree frogs on the floor of their tanks often or even all the time is not a good sign. Tree frogs like to be off the ground and up high in their tank, either adhered to the glass or on their leaves unless they are bathing or hunting. If they spend most of the time on the ground or all the time, they may not be feeling well and too weak to climb.

5. Color may alert you to a problem. If you notice that a frog or toad is pale or darker than normal, this may be a sign all is not right with your amphibian. Its probably not always easy to notice this but in a red eyed tree frog for instance, their normally brilliant green may get dark or even mottled in coloration. Don't however, mistake this for blending in with their background. A red eye for instance, will look darker on dark leaves and lighter on light leaves. And they are lighter when warm and darker when cool. This too is a judgment call and has to be associated with other symptoms.

6. Reddened belly and legs may be a symptom of the dreaded Red Leg, a particular nasty disease in amphibians. It will appear reddish and irritated looking, not just a little pinkish which could be okay. You will know if this is there. It's not pretty. Gently press on the reddened area. If it stays red when you take your finger away, this may be a sign of infection. If its just irritation from rubbing, the area where your finger was pressing will be light colored like the frog or toads belly when you take your finger away.

7. Sores or blisters on the body will of course easily alert you that your amphibian has something nasty going on. 

8. Yawning constantly. Amphibians as you've not doubt noticed, open their mouths to eat but usually don't go around yawning even if sleepy. This could indicate that they are having trouble breathing and a sign of Spring Disease, a particularly nasty amphibian disease.

9. No more messes to clean up. While this may be nice for you, this is not good for your amphibian. He or she needs to eliminate waste and not doing so can cause him to become toxic. Not only that, your amphibian recognizes on some level that part of what goes in will eventually have to come out and so he will stop eating. He or she could have a blockage of his intestinal tract which means nothing is going to move very well. A word of caution about pebbles and small rocks in the enclosure where your amphibian resides. Don't. A frog or toad may snatch up a small rock and not be able to pass it and cause a blockage which probably can only be resolved by surgery.

10. Bloating. Amphibians often blow themselves up to discourage their enemies from preying on them. Obviously you aren't going to intentionally hurt them but its a natural instinct. However, they deflate themselves when the danger of you looking at them when they aren't in the mood passes. But an amphibian that is constantly blown up may be retaining too much water (edema) and something is wrong.

11. Cloudy eyes or blood in them. Certainly blood in your amphibians eyes is cause for concern. He may have hurt his eye but it is a sign also of a generalized infection. Cloudy eyes may be the result of too much fat in his diet. Domestically raised crickets can cause this because of their diet or too many mice. Not much can be done for cloudy eyes.


What to do if you think your frog or toad is sick or injured

    First of all don't try medicating your frog with human medicines. They can be toxic to your amphibian.  The best thing of course is to prevent illness. You do this by providing a clean environment by cleaning and changing water every single day if possible. There may be times when you take a vacation for a day or so but do your best to change their "ponds" every day with de-chlorinated water. A friend or relative might tend to your charges while you are away. Removing messes from their homes is important too, as you undoubtedly know. Bacteria breed when unclean conditions are present. Regular super cleaning of their homes should be done often. This requires taking out the amphibian and all his or her 'furniture' and giving everything including the tank a good washing. If the tank smells of ammonia, its definitely time for house cleaning! If all of your preventative measures haven't worked and despite all your hard work, amphibians may still get sick or injured. Unless you yourself are a professional in the care of amphibians, call an exotic veterinarian (one who specializes or regularly treats amphibians and other unusual pets) to assess your amphibian and provide medical care. It's a good idea to have one of these vets identified prior to your frog or toad's becoming sick. It will be no fun to have to find one when you're in a panic because your amphibian needs help NOW! This is not to say that you should rush your amphibian off to the vet with any change in behavior. Common sense is important and your ability to pay is of course another important factor.

    Taking your amphibian to the vet requires a carrier of some sort that will be such that a nervous amphibian cannot jump out of. An appropriately sized plastic creature tank can be found at pet stores for just this purpose. Or a pillow case especially for larger frogs or toads will work. Put the pillow case in a plastic bag but don't close it. This helps to prevent messes that may occur en route due to the amphibians nervousness at riding in your spanking clean vehicle.

    Just like your own human doctor, be sure you like and trust your vet. Try to meet him or her before you need their services so you feel confident they are proficient and understand amphibians. Don't be afraid to question them about the care of your frog or toad and request another opinion if you feel something radical is being suggested for your flippered friend. A good vet will not be offended and in fact should welcome a second opinion since no one person can know everything and another vet may be more knowledgeable about your frog or toad's particularly unusual condition. You would want the same for your human loved ones and yourself. Your amphibian is your responsibility and you should be included in decisions regarding his care and feel comfortable knowing you are providing the best medical care you can. However, because they are exotic vets, they will most likely know how to treat your pet frog or toad and provide the appropriate treatment.

    Taking your frog or toad to the vet can be an expense you weren't counting on when you brought that adorable amphibian home but in doing so, you made an unspoken commitment to him or her that you would do your best to provide a good home and adequate medical care if necessary. After all, he had no choice in the matter and is trusting you to take care of him to the best of your ability. If your friend has been with you for many years (depending on the amphibian since they have different life expectancies), sad as it may be, you may decide to let nature take its course and allow your amphibian to pass on without the heroics which can be very stressful. As his caretaker, you must after all, make that judgment call. If you decide its best to let him go, make him as comfortable as possible, continue to love him until the end and after your friend is gone, remember the pleasure he or she gave you.

Still not sure whether your frog or toad needs help?

    There are exotic vets who will consult with you on line. For professional advice and guidance here is one web site you can go to and ask for a on line consultation for a modest fee. I think you will find Dr. Rhines for example, very helpful and informative with questions you have about the particular problems you may be experiencing with your amphibian.  Contact him at