Skip to content

Can You Own a Desert Rain Frog? Ownership Laws and Considerations

Can You Own a Desert Rain Frog

Desert rain frogs are fascinating creatures native to the Namib Desert in southern Africa. Their unique appearance and distinctive vocalizations have made them a subject of fascination for animal lovers worldwide. However, many wonder whether owning a desert rain frog as a pet is possible.

The answer to this question is yes; owning a desert rain frog as a pet is possible. However, several factors need to be considered before making that decision. For example, desert rain frogs necessitate a specialized habitat for optimal flourishing. 

This encompasses a warm, humid terrarium abundant in concealment opportunities, and a diet primarily composed of insects.

Furthermore, acquiring the frog from a trustworthy breeder or reputable pet store is essential to guarantee its health and ethical sourcing.

Understanding the Desert Rain Frog

The Desert Rain Frog, also known as Breviceps macrops, is a unique species of frog that is native to the sandy dunes of Namibia and South Africa. Here’s what you need to know about this fascinating amphibian.

Description, Habitat, and Physical Appearance of the Desert Rain Frog

The Desert Rain Frog, a compact amphibian, boasts protruding eyes, a stubby snout, short limbs, spade-like feet, and webbed toes. Its yellowish-brown hue often collects sand. 

Notably, its ventral side features a translucent patch revealing internal organs. The frog measures 4 to 6 centimeters in length.

The Desert Rain Frog is found in the coastal desert regions of Namibia and South Africa. It prefers to live in sandy areas with sparse vegetation, where it can burrow into the sand to escape the day’s heat. The frog is active primarily at night when the temperatures are cooler.

Unique Behavior and Interesting Facts

The Desert Rain Frog has a characteristic mating wail, and upon hearing it, a female will approach, and the two will burrow into the sand to mate. The Desert Rain Frog is not a common pet, but it is possible to own one. 

However, before leaping, you must meet their environmental needs. A few factors need to be taken into consideration before making that decision.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

Keeping a desert rain frog as a pet comes with legal and ethical considerations that potential owners should be aware of. 

Legal Regulations and Requirements

It is important to note that desert rain frogs are a protected species in their natural habitat in southern California and northern Mexico. 

Possessing one of these frogs without a permit is a federal offense. Therefore, before deciding to keep a desert rain frog as a pet, it is crucial to check the legal requirements in your area.

In addition to obtaining the necessary permits, owners must also ensure that they meet the environmental needs of the frog. 

This includes providing adequate space, temperature, humidity, and lighting. Failure to meet these requirements could result in legal action and the confiscation of the frog.

Ethical Considerations for Conservation and Responsible Ownership

Desert rain frogs are listed as an endangered species due to habitat loss caused by mining and urbanization. Therefore, owning a desert rain frog should be done with conservation and responsible ownership in mind.

Potential owners should consider the impact of their actions on the species and the environment. This includes ensuring that the frog is obtained from a reputable source and not taken from the wild. 

Also, owners should not release the frog into the wild, which could harm the local ecosystem.

It is also essential to consider the toxicity status of the frog. Desert rain frogs produce a toxic secretion that can harm humans and other animals. Therefore, owners should take precautions to prevent accidental exposure to the secretion.

Desert Rain Frog Care and Housing

Desert rain frogs require specific care requirements to ensure their well-being in captivity. Proper housing and environmental conditions are crucial to their health and longevity.

Lifespan and Environmental Conditions

Desert rain frogs have a lifespan of approximately 5-7 years in captivity. They require a suitable habitat that mimics their natural environment to thrive.

Proper Tank Size, Substrate, and Habitat Requirements

An ideal tank size for a solitary adult desert rain frog is a minimum of 10 gallons. To prevent escape and uphold a humid environment, it’s advised to have a secure lid. The substrate, with a depth of at least 3 inches and composed of sand and soil, accommodates burrowing.

The tank should have a hiding place, such as a small cave or log, to provide a sense of security for the frog. Décor items like rocks and plants can also be added to mimic their natural habitat.

Maintenance, Temperature, and Humidity

Regular tank cleaning is essential to prevent dehydration and maintain a healthful habitat. Maintain temperatures between 75-85°F during the day and 65-75°F at night. Humidity levels of 50-70% also help prevent dehydration.

Monitoring and Specific Needs

Monitoring is essential to maintain the well-being and prosperity of desert rain frogs in their enclosure. These frogs are susceptible to environmental shifts and can experience stress when their requirements are not fulfilled.

Feeding, Reproduction, and Health Care

Desert rain frogs are insectivores, meaning their diet is primarily insects. Their diet should include various insects, including crickets, mealworms, and waxworms. It is crucial to ensure the insects are appropriately sized for the frog to prevent choking.

Using a shallow water dish to avoid accidental substrate ingestion when caring for a desert rain frog. Clean and refill the dish daily for proper hydration.

During reproduction, ensure good care for both male and female frogs. Multiple hiding spots are advised to prevent male aggression. After laying up to 20 eggs, females should be removed from the enclosure. Place the eggs in a separate container with moist substrate.

Common health problems include infections and respiratory issues. If a frog seems lethargic or struggles to breathe, seek immediate veterinary care. Regular check-ups can proactively prevent health problems.

Black Rain Frog: A Unique Species for Consideration

The black rain frog, also known as the Tsitsikamma rain frog, is a unique species of frog that is part of the Brevicipitidae family. 

These nocturnal amphibians are indigenous to the southwestern coast of South Africa. They flourish in the temperate Mediterranean climate of the Cape Fold Mountains.

Here are some characteristics and considerations to remember if you consider owning a black rain frog.

Overview and Characteristics of the Black Rain Frog

One of the most striking features of the black rain frog is its permanently grouchy expression. This frog has a round, plump body and short limbs with disproportionate toes. 

Rather than warts, the black rain frog’s skin is covered in numerous small granules, giving it a distinct look. These frogs lack toxicity and can thrive for up to 15 years when kept in captivity.

Housing, Handling, and Dietary Preferences

Black rain frogs require specific environmental conditions to thrive, including a moist and humid environment with a temperature range of 75-80°F. Proper equipment and maintenance are necessary to ensure your frog stays healthy. 

A terrarium with coconut fiber or sphagnum moss substrate, live plants, and a shallow water dish can provide a suitable habitat for your black rain frog.

It’s advisable to avoid handling black rain frogs due to their fragility, which makes them susceptible to injury. Instead, enjoy observing them in their natural environment and offer a diverse insect diet comprising crickets, roaches, and mealworms.

Temperament and Non-Toxicity

Black rain frogs are generally docile and do not require much attention. They are not aggressive and will not bite humans or other animals. These frogs are non-toxic, making them safe to handle, but it is still recommended to avoid handling them to prevent injury.

Chirping and Croaking

Black rain frogs are known for their unique vocalizations, like loud, high-pitched chirping or croaking. These vocalizations are used to communicate with other frogs and establish territories. 

While this behavior is fascinating, it is vital to remember that it can be loud and disruptive, especially if you keep your frog in a small space.

Where Can You Buy a Desert Rain Frog or Black Rain Frog?

Knowing that these frogs are not commonly kept as pets is essential if you want a Desert Rain Frog or Black Rain Frog. 

They are considered threatened species and are protected by law in their native habitat in Namibia and South Africa. However, if you are committed to providing a suitable home for a Desert Rain Frog or Black Rain Frog, there are a few options for purchasing them from reputable sources.

One option is to research online pet stores that specialize in exotic animals. These stores may have Desert Rain Frogs or Black Rain Frogs available for purchase, but it is vital to ensure that the store is reputable and follows ethical practices in obtaining their animals. It is also essential to research the specific care needs of these frogs before making a purchase.

You can also consider finding local breeders with Desert Rain Frogs or Black Rain Frogs for sale. Reputable breeders offer valuable insights into caring for these frogs and guarantee the well-being of the animals. Prioritize ethical breeders who don’t engage in the illegal trade of these protected species.

Underground Reptiles and Backwater Reptiles are two online stores that may have Desert Rain Frogs or Black Rain Frogs available for purchase. However, it is vital to research these stores thoroughly and ensure they follow ethical practices in obtaining their animals.

Before purchasing a Desert Rain Frog or Black Rain Frog, it is crucial to consider the responsibilities of owning a pet frog. These frogs require specialized care, including a suitable habitat, proper diet, and regular veterinary check-ups. It is also essential to consider the lifespan of these frogs, which can range from 10 to 15 years in captivity.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Desert Rain Frogs

Are Desert Rain Frogs Good Pets?

Desert rain frogs can make good pets for those willing to provide them with the right environment and care. However, they are not recommended for inexperienced pet owners as they require specific conditions to thrive. 

Desert rain frogs are small, measuring 2-3 inches in length. They are nocturnal creatures, remaining active at night and resting throughout the day. In captivity, they can live for about 10 years.

Can Desert Rain Frogs Live Together?

Desert rain frogs are solitary animals and do not live well together in captivity. They are territorial and can become aggressive toward each other, leading to injuries or even death. Keeping them in separate enclosures is best to ensure their safety and well-being.

How Fast Is a Desert Rain Frog?

Desert rain frogs are not known for their speed. They are slow-moving animals that prefer to burrow in the sand rather than move quickly. However, they can move quickly when feeling threatened or trying to escape danger.

Desert rain frogs make for low-maintenance pets in terms of care. They thrive in warm, humid conditions and need access to clean water. Their diet mainly comprises insects like crickets, mealworms, and waxworms.

When considering owning a desert rain frog, weighing the pros and cons is essential. Pros include their low maintenance needs, unique appearance, and fascinating behavior. However, cons have their nocturnal nature, specific environmental requirements, and potential aggression towards other frogs.

It is also important to note that owning a desert rain frog may not be allowed in specific locations. It is best to research local laws and regulations before purchasing a desert rain frog as a pet.


Overall, owning a desert rain frog can be a rewarding experience for those willing to provide them with the necessary care and attention. However, it is crucial to understand their needs and behavior before deciding to bring one into your home.