The 10 DOs and DONTs of Cape Rain Frog Care 101

Do you want to keep a rare frog which is an indication of good luck believed by many people? Then, you must be looking for cape rain frogs that emerge from the soil before rainfalls. But, keeping a cape rain frog as a pet comes with several dos and don’ts in its care guide.

If you are a beginner, you may not have clear guidelines about cape rain frog care. In this article, I’ve explained all details about its care, including housing set-up, feeding guide, handling, breeding care, etc.

So, let’s go through this article without any further ado to know more about the dos and don’ts of cape rain frog care.

Overview of Cape Rain Frogs

Scientific nameBreviceps gibbosus
Common namesSouth African Rain frog, South African short-headed frog, Linnaeus’s rain frog, Cape short heat frog, etc.
Size2 inches (4.5 cm)
Terrarium CapacityMinimum 10 gallon per frog
Optimal Humidity55-80%
Optimal Temperature50-75 degrees Fahrenheit
Lighting RequirementLow powered LED lighting or dim lighting works well.
TemperamentDocile and skittish
Care levelIntermediate
Lifespan4-15 years

How To Take Care Of Cape Rain Frogs?

1. Buy Captive-bred Cape Rain Frog

This rain frog species is so rare that you can not readily find these frogs in common pet trades or stores. Cape rain frogs are only available in South Africa. Since the wild-caught frogs carry diseases and parasites, the experts suggest buying captive-bred cape rain frogs.

But, there are reports that frog breeders often sell wild-caught cape rain frogs at a premium. So, it’s pretty uncertain whether you’ve achieved captive-bred cape rain frogs from the breeders or wild-caught.

When you buy a cape rain frog, you should do all medical check-ups of the frog. Before introducing the frog to its terrarium, you can quarantine the cape rain frog in a separate tank. After completing all veterinary evolutions, you can welcome your cape rain frog in the terrarium.

2. Setting up A 10 Gallon Tank

Although cape rain frogs can grow up to only 2 inches, these frogs require a large terrarium. In the wild, these cape rain frogs live in the Fynbos biome of South Africa. So, their natural habitation consists of woodland, shrub areas, etc.

When you keep a cape rain frog in captivity, you should mimic the wild environment in the closed enclosure. Generally, these frogs walk or run with their short legs. In addition, they make a deep tunnel underground to burrow themselves.

For this reason, you should provide a large space for these cape rain frogs. The thumb rule of selecting a terrarium is to keep a minimum of 10-gallon space for a single cape rain frog. You should ensure that the terrarium has sufficient space both horizontally and vertically.

If you look for a perfect suggestion, I’ll recommend Exo Terra 18”×18”×18” All Glass Terrarium for your cape rain frog.

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3. Fill The Terrarium With Right Substrate

You might know that cape rain frogs are a popular indication of bringing good luck to native people. That’s because these frogs emerge out of the soil before rainfalls. So, you do not usually see them over the soil. The reasons behind this occurrence are the burrowing nature of the cape rain frog.

Cape rain frogs tend to remain burrowed underground during the entire day. These frogs make tunnels through the soil up to 8 inches. Hence, you should choose the right substrate that can be readily stretched out.

While setting up an enclosure for your rain frog, you should fill the terrarium with the right type of substrate. You can make layers of bedding of soil and peat moss. There are also available several types of substrate.

Such as coconut fiber, coco husk, compost plant materials, organic potting soil, sphagnum moss, leaf litter, orchid barks, etc.

If you do not buy any readymade soil, you can mix all of these. The soil particles should be loose enough to dig for your cape rain frogs.

You should make at least 12 inches of bedding of substrate. Keep the substrate moist with safe water. If the substrate becomes water-dripping wet, you should change it fast. However, you should change the bedding of the substrate after every two months.

Due to having several positive feedbacks, I would like to recommend Zoo Med Repti Soil and Zoo Med Eco Earth as substrates.

4. Keeping The Tank Humid

You must ensure to keep similar environmental conditions as wild in your cape rain frog terrarium. These cape rain frogs are found in the Western Cape of South Africa. If you notice the humidity of that area, you’ll see the humidity range within 55-80%.

For this reason, you should mimic the similar higher humidity in the closed tank. To keep the tank moist, you can spray fresh water twice a day in your cape rain frog terrarium. Keep a hygrometer not to exceed a humidity level of over 80%.

To absorb the moisture, you can keep some live plants and vegetation over the substrate. There are several types of options for foliage. Such as ferns, sphagnum moss, peat moss, peperomias, begonia, etc.

However, adding foliage will make the captive habitat similar to the plantation or agricultural grounds where these cape rain frogs can be found.

5. Keep Water In A Shallow Water Bowl

One thing to remember is that cape rain frogs do not require open water sources. Also, these frogs do not breed in water like other frogs.

To obtain the optimal humidity range, keeping fresh water in a shallow bowl can help. Do not keep a bowl full of water. Since cape rain frogs can not swim, they can drown in the water bowl.

6. Keep The Temperature High

To keep your cape rain frog healthy, you should keep the terrarium hot and humid. These rare frogs thrive in the Mediterranean climate of South Africa. The average temperature of those areas remains 23 degrees Celsius or around 74 degrees Fahrenheit.

For this reason, you must keep the temperature of the terrarium higher. It must be a difficult job to keep the tank hot and humid at the same time. So, you can keep an Under Tank Heater.

Some people use a heat mat or heat pad. Although many beginners go for heat bulbs, cape rain frogs do not require high-voltage lighting. So, a thermostat regulating Under Tank Heater will be a good choice for cape rain frogs.

Another trick to keep the terrarium hot is to fix a tank lid. The tank lid will not let the stagnant air come out. As a result, the terrarium will remain heated.

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Don’t forget to keep a thermometer. Besides, you should place the heater on one side of the terrarium. Otherwise, it may burn your cape rain frog, which is used to remain burrowed under the substrate.

7. Feed Varieties Of Foods: What Do Cape Rain Frogs Eat?

In the wild, cape rain frogs hunt various types of insects when they come out of the soil at night. You can say that their diet consists of insects. When you keep these insectivores as pets, you should feed varieties of foods to fulfill their nutrition needs.

If you look at the diet of cape rain frogs in the wild, you’ll see the insects found in the Cape. Such as ants, beetles, tobacco moths, swarms, pests, termites, butterflies, and other crawling insects. These rain frogs hunt moving prey.

Similarly, you must offer your cape rain frogs live insects. It might be a bit difficult to manage different types of insects for your pet frogs. Hence, you can keep crickets as the main food of cape rain frogs.

Let’s see other food options that you can feed your cape rain frogs. These are-

  1. Crickets
  2. Ants
  3. Beetles
  4. Moths
  5. Wasps
  6. Fruit flies
  7. Cockroaches
  8. Mosquito larvae
  9. Grasshoppers
  10. Mealworms
  11. Earthworms
  12. Epomis
  13. Black soldier flies
  14. Dubia roaches
  15. Slugs
  16. Small arthropods

You can also culture these insects to feed your rain frogs. Otherwise, you should buy them from trusted and reliable stores.

8. Supplement Your Cape Rain Frog’s Diet

It’s not possible to provide all resources like wild in captivity. To ensure better growth and good health, you should give supplementation to your cape rain frogs.

Since frogs can not absorb calcium alone, you should give calcium supplements with vitamin D3. It’ll reduce the risk of fragile bones of your cape rain frogs. In addition, the experts suggest giving vitamin A supplement to pet frogs that prevents the short tongue syndrome of frogs.

Some owners remain confused about the feeding schedule of supplementation. In the case of calcium supplements, you should supplement the insects with calcium powder 2-3 times a week.

Do not forget to give multivitamin supplementation at least once a week. Your cape rain frogs will get a trace of minerals, vitamin A, vitamin K, and other nutrients in this multivitamin supplement. If you do not dust the insects with supplements, you can gut load the insects beforehand.

Another suggestion for beginners is to change the supplements after 6 months. These supplements tend to get expired after 6 months of being opened it. I recommend you buy Repashy Calcium Plus, Repashy SuperVite, and Repashy Vitamin A Plus.

9. Help Cape Rain Frog Breed Successfully

If you want to breed cape rain frogs, you should make the enclosure breeding-friendly. In the wild, the male cape rain frogs start their mating calls beneath the loamy soils to attract the females. Further, the fertilization process happens in the tunnel or burrows under the soil.

These frogs do not require open water sources to breed or lay eggs. So, you should make the substrate slack for your cape rain frogs. It’ll help your frogs dig up the soil smoothly.

Make sure to keep a hot and humid environment in the terrarium. Most importantly, try to make zero disturbance around the terrarium. Noises can make cape rain frogs frightened and disrupted

10. Pay Attention To Your Cape Rain Frog Health

Finally, you should monitor the health of your cape rain frog regularly. If you detect any sign of sickness, you can take early steps to cure your rain frog.

  1. You should notice carefully whether your cape rain frogs finish the insects. If they miss their food, you should find out the reason for their loss of appetite.
  2. If your frog is skinny despite regular feeding, your cape rain frog may suffer from malnourishment.
  3. You must look for other signs of illness when your cape rain frog shows lethargy.
  4. Your cape rain frogs can be suffering from red leg syndrome if the legs and underside of their turn red.
  5. If the skin limbs of your cape rain frogs start swelling, you should look for other symptoms of Ranavirus. In such cases, you might notice skin ulceration too.
  6. Pay attention to whether your cape rain frog starts bloating suddenly. It can be a symptom of dropsy or attacks of intestinal parasites.

The 5 DON’TS of Cape Rain Frog Care

1. Do Not Place The Tank In Your Bedroom

You should not place your cape rain frog terrarium in your bedroom. Keep it in a corner of such a room with minimal noise. These cape rain frogs can get readily frightened.

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As a result, your cape rain frog may not tolerate the sound of the television, vacuum cleaner, etc. Due to their skittish nature, you should place the terrarium in the correct place.

2. Do Not Feed Large Insects

The main share of the cape rain frog diet is insects. While serving varieties of insects, you must be concerned about the size of the insects. If you feed large insects to your cape rain frogs, your pet frog may choke the insects.

Moreover, your frog may face difficulties in digesting large insects. As a result, your cape rain frog will suffer from impaction similar to the constipation of humans.

3. Avoid Feeding The Harmful Foods

Sometimes, the new owners offer human food items to their pet frogs affectionately. But, it’s a big no for any frog species. There are a few foods that can be harmful to your cape rain frogs. Such as-

  • Wild-caught insects
  • Processed foods
  • Table scrapes
  • Commercial foods made for other pets
  • Raw meats
  • Bread, rice, or other human food items.

These food items provide zero nutritional value to your cape rain frogs. Further, these foods can be risky for your frog’s health. In the case of wild-caught insects, these insects can pass parasites or diseases to your rain frogs.

4. Do Not Fit Dark Lighting

Like other rain frog species, cape rain frogs are nocturnal. These frogs remain active at night. But, they remain burrowed under the substrate during day time. So, dark lighting may hamper their usual routine.

You can keep a low-powered LED light in the daytime. At night time, you can keep a night-specific bulb to observe their activities. This lighting will help maintain the day and night cycle for your cape rain frogs.

5. Do Not Handle Your Cape Rain Frog

Do not handle your cape rain frog without any emergency. Due to having a skittish temperament, these rain frogs get frightened quickly. If you do not gently grab your cape rain frog, your pet frog may consider you a threat.

However, all frogs have absorbing skin. If you do not wash your hands beforehand, you may pass oil, salt, or other harmful chemicals to your cape rain frogs. It may be fatal for your rain frogs. Do not forget to take necessary precautions while handling your cape rain frogs.

Before You Go

I hope you got a crystal-clear idea of what to do and what not to do in keeping cape rain frogs as pets. There is another interesting rain frog species named the Bushveld rain frog, which has an almost similar care guide to cape rain frogs. You can also check out the following article if you want to keep this exotic frog as a pet.

A Beginner’s Guide To Keeping Bushveld Rain Frogs As Pets!

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Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.


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