It’s important to keep your frog as happy and stress-free as possible, but how bad can stress really be?
Constant stress can have an accumulating, negative impact on your frog’s immune system, making it more difficult for your frog’s body to fight disease or heal from injury.
While stress alone cannot kill a frog, stress can make frogs more susceptible to death when other factors are also in play, like an illness or injury.
In this article, we’ll discuss how stress affects your frog’s immune system and the major causes of stress and stress-induced death in frogs.
How does stress affect a frog’s immune system?
Stress is known to increase the levels of corticosterone and other stress hormones in frogs.
When your frog’s stress hormones are elevated for a prolonged period of time, your frog’s immune system can become compromised, making it harder for your frog to stay healthy.
A stressed frog is more likely to catch an illness than a healthy frog, and a stressed frog will take longer to recover from an illness as well. Sometimes, stress, in combination with illness, can be deadly.
Similarly, if a stressed frog sustains an injury, it will have a harder time healing from it than a healthy frog would. If the damage is severe enough, a stressed frog may not be able to recover at all.
As is the case with humans, stress can negatively affect the bodily systems of your frog. Stress-induced death can happen if your frog contracts an illness or suffers an injury during a time of increased stress.
6 Causes of stress-induced death in frogs
To reduce your frog’s chance of experiencing a stress-induced death, you’ll want to decrease your frog’s general stress levels.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of stress and stress-induced death in captive frogs.
If you keep your frog in a tank with other animals, this situation can be a significant cause of stress and stress-induced death.
Lizards and turtles are incompatible tankmates for frogs since whichever animal is larger will inevitably hunt, attack, and attempt to eat the smaller animal.
This hunter vs. prey dynamic is highly stressful and can lead to injury and even death.
Different species of frogs can also make incompatible tankmates. It’s challenging to maintain a tank that can adequately serve multiple species since each species has unique environmental needs.
If you have multiple species in a single tank, chances are that your tank isn’t properly suited to each of the animals living there.
Frogs will also attempt to hunt and eat each other, especially if there is a significant size difference in the animals.
Keeping your frog with incompatible tankmates will increase your frog’s stress and the chance of a stress-induced death.
A hungry frog will be a stressed frog.
If your frog isn’t getting the nutrition it needs, its body will grow stressed as a result, and all of its physiological systems will be negatively affected.
In turn, this will inhibit your frog’s immune system and potentially lead to premature death.
Your frog may be getting a poor diet if you are not feeding it nutritious foods or not following a consistent feeding schedule.
Frogs need a variety of essential nutrients, just like people do. You may need to check the nutritional content of the foods that you offer your frog.
Your frog will struggle to stay strong and healthy without regular, nutritious foods. In conjunction with the added stress, a poor diet can, unfortunately, lead to a stress-induced death in frogs.
Improper tank environment
Maintaining a proper tank environment is a necessity for keeping a happy and healthy frog.
Each species of frog has a particular set of environmental needs that must be met to keep the frog stress-free and alive.
First, the temperature of your frog’s environment is extremely important. Some species need consistent, hot temperatures, whereas others need cooler temperatures during the day or night.
If your frog is too hot or too cold, it will undoubtedly grow stressed.
Next, humidity is another vital aspect of your frog’s environment. Frogs need higher humidity levels to keep their skin moist and to stay healthy.
Still, each species has differing humidity needs. If your frog is too dry or too damp, it will become stressed.
Additionally, the size and layout of your tank are incredibly important for the well-being of your frog. If your frog doesn’t have enough space or a well-suited layout, it will begin to feel stressed.
If left unaddressed, an improper tank environment will cause undue stress for your frog and, in some circumstances, may cause death.
Avoid handling your frog unless it’s absolutely necessary.
While there are some exceptions, most frogs do not like to be handled by humans. If you do need to handle your frog, take care to be responsive to your frog’s reaction.
Always wash your hands thoroughly or wear protective gloves before handling a frog.
If you decide to handle your frog, be careful to avoid squeezing your frog or dropping it.
If your frog is flailing around frantically or making a lot of noise, put it back in the tank and do not handle it in the future.
Even if your tank environment is properly suited for your frog, a dirty environment can be another significant cause of stress.
If your frog doesn’t have access to clean water or substrate, chances are that it will get sick sooner or later.
A dirty environment is a breeding ground of harmful bacteria, so make sure to regularly change your frog’s water and substrate.
If you allow your frog to suffer in a filthy environment, it will likely become both stressed and ill, which can be a deadly combination.
Travel or tank transfer
When you first bring your frog home, it will likely be very stressed out. Pet stores can be stressful for frogs, and so can the ride home.
Traffic and other loud sounds are major contributors to stress in frogs, so take care to keep a calm and quiet environment in your car when transporting a frog.
When you first add your frog to a new tank, it will be unfamiliar with the territory, which will also cause stress. Your frog will need a few hours or even a few days to grow comfortable in a new environment.
Avoid traveling with your frog whenever possible, and only place it in a new tank environment if you genuinely need to.
How to prevent a stress-induced death?
You can help prevent your frog from experiencing a stress-induced death if you maintain a clean tank environment that doesn’t make your frog more susceptible to illness, injury, or stress.
Remove incompatible tankmates
One of the best ways to prevent a stress-induced death is to remove any incompatible tankmates.
By taking this step, you can remove unnecessary threats, competition over food and territory, and prevent overcrowding.
This will make your frog feel more at ease, and it will reduce the chance that your frog will sustain an injury.
Even if it seems that your animals are getting along, you may want to separate them anyway to decrease stress. Stress isn’t always obvious.
Adjust feeding regiment
You may need to adjust your feeding regiment. Your goal should be to provide a consistent, nutritious diet to your frog. Do some research to learn about the nutritional requirements of your specific species of frog.
Then, check which food sources have the best sources of nutrition for your frog. Some essential nutrients to check for are protein, calcium, and fat.
Commit to a regular feeding schedule. The amount and frequency that you feed should be based on your species of frog.
If your frog has been underfed, you can up the frequency of feeding for a few weeks before tapering back into a regular schedule.
Improve tank conditions
Take time to improve the tank conditions for your frog. Talk to an expert to determine your frog’s appropriate temperature and humidity levels.
Check that the tank’s lighting, layout, and size are also well-suited to your frog and make adjustments where needed.
Maintain a regular cleaning schedule to avoid unnecessary illness and stress. When you clean, take care to disturb your frog as little as possible and avoid handling it.
How do you know if your frog is dying or just stressed?
If your frog shows troubling signs, how do you know if it is dying or just stressed?
First, you can check for signs of illness or injury. Visually examine your frog’s skin for tears, wounds, sores, or discoloration.
Reflect on your frog’s behavior for the past few weeks and note any significant changes in its appetite and activity levels.
If you can determine that your frog has been injured or infected with an illness, seek an expert or veterinarian to advise you on how to proceed.
If there are no obvious signs of injury or illness, take the steps outlined above to reduce the general stress levels of your frog and monitor your frog for improvements.