Red Legged Walking Frog Natural History
In 1853[i] the Red-Legged Walking Frog Kassina maculata was classified in the Racophoridae genus, but is now classified within the Hyperoliidae family[ii]. Kassina maculata is considered an “arboreal” species of the Running or Walking frog genera, which are all found in Africa and Madagascar, except for one species found in the Seychelles Islands off the coast of India. The Red-Legged Walking frog is the only species which is found in bushes or trees in West and coastal East Africa. One author describes the K. maculata as being aquatic in nature[iii].
The Red-Legged Walking Frog is best described as having an overall grayish ground color, with dark black spots or ovals, sometimes called “ocelli.” Surrounding these are lighter circles and or margins. Adults reach a size of 6.5 cm and in the wild they inhabit a tropical rainforest type of environment. They will eat just about anything when it comes to feeding including each other.
The only way to describe the calls of K. maculata is a sound which could be considered as a repetitive loud clap. While not rare, they don’t seem to call as much as other frogs that have been kept in captivity.
When it comes to captive housing of the Red-Legged Walking Frog Kassina maculata, you can use the same size enclosure as you would for the Green Tree Frog Hyla cinerea. One major difference that is that the enclosure should be long, as in a 20 gallon long tank, instead of the average 20-gallon high enclosure as described above. A “20 long” measures 30 ¼″ x 12 ½″ x 12 ¾″. Remember, a 20-gallon high measures 20 ¼˝x 10 ½˝x 18 ¾˝.
The frog gains a full 10″ in length when being housed in this enclosure, which is important since this particular species has a tendency to “walk” rather than hop as would most other species.
Gravel is a very poor substrate for this type of frog due to risks of impaction. I have yet to read of anyone trying to keep Red-Legged Walking frogs on Astroturf or reptile cage carpet. This is no doubt due the necessity of high humidity needed by such a tropical species of amphibian. With that knowledge in hand, we must, to the best of our ability, try to replicate the areas where they’re found.
A substrate composed of leaf litter would be welcomed by these tropical frogs. However, this has yet to be designed and distributed to the general public on a wide scale. Because there are some oils that are found within the neighborhood leaves that may be toxic to the frogs, we are better off going with something similar, yet non-toxic. Substrates such as a pure cypress (not a blend) or non-toxic mulch-type of bedding. There are many such items available at home improvement stores and nurseries. So if you find one that’s put together by a company that you recognize, I would certainly go with that brand.
Just to make it easier, or more confusing as the case may be, you can also use the expandable substrate bricks, which are sold at most pet stores. For virtually all of my frog species that I have owned, I would usually go with the product called T-Rex Inc Jungle Bedding 1Qt. The reason is because we more often than not plant the enclosure with live plants and this substrate seems to be particularly suited to plants, as evidenced by their growth and health.
When it comes to décor for the Red-Legged Walking Frog, we’ve discovered a well-planted enclosure seems to suit them best. You can use live or plastic plants when it comes time to decorate the enclosure. We’ve provided a plant appendix at the bottom of this article. We recommend you refrain from spiny or sharp-edged plants such as bromeliad sp. Instead, use mosses and other tropical plants with have large leaves; these will provide not only natural hides but will help to keep the enclosure humid. Vines and other such perches can be included but don’t seem to be a necessity for this particular species.
As is the case with most frogs, the Red-Legged Walking Frog is a nocturnal species not requiring any UV lighting at all. However, if you plan to plant the enclosure then you should definitely supply some type of artificial ultraviolet light for the plants so they will remain healthy.
Like all frogs or terrestrial amphibians, you must provide a fresh, dechlorinated water source of some kind. With the Red-Legged Walking Frog, this should be a large bowl where the frog can crawl or climb into the bowl as it needs to and soak. Misting the frogs once or twice a day will also provide the needed humidity. Another way to provide humidity is to place a piece of Plexiglass over one section of the enclosure’s screen top. You can also place a heat source over the water area to increase the relative humidity within the enclosure.
Red-Legged Walking Frogs seem to thrive in temperatures between 75˚- 80˚F, with the humidity of the enclosure being in the 85% range. We do not recommend attempting to keep these frogs any higher than 85˚F. This could lead to stress, and if left constantly at this temperature, eventually death.
[i] Obst Jürgen Fritz, Dr. Richter Klaus, Dr. Jacob Udo, The Completely illustrated Atlas of Reptiles and Amphibians for the Terrarium.
[iii] Mattison, Chris Frogs and Toads of the World Facts on File Publications New York, New York 1987