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Your Guide to Caring for an American Bullfrog

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If you are thinking about getting an American Bullfrog to keep as a pet, great choice. They are one of the most popular pet frogs for are a reason.

But, no matter what type of pet you are considering one of if not the most important rule for all perspective pet owners is to know what you’re getting yourself into. That means do your research and be prepared before you bring your new pet home.

Let’s take a look at what is required in order to have a healthy thriving pet American bullfrog.

Lithobates Catesbeianus

The official scientific name of American bullfrogs is Lithobates catesbeianus. They are not very hard to care for, but they do have some specific needs as far as habitat and diet.

Setting Up an Enclosure

Unlike some pet frogs, it’s entirely acceptable to house your bullfrog outdoors if the climate where you live is condusive. You will still need to ensure your pet cannot get out for its safety though.

That being said, there’s nothing wrong with setting up an enclosure indoors either. Due to their size and activity if you do decide to house them indoors you need an ample sized tank. A 40-gallon tank will work but bigger is usually better.

You are also going to want to keep a few of these important factors in mind when doing so.

Substrate

Substrate is the material you line the bottom of your tank or tub with. Each species tends to do better with certain substrates than they do others. For bullfrogs, you can use a substrate made from coconut fiber. There are also certain pre-made mixes available for reptiles that thrive in humid setting.

Regardless of which substrate you choose you need to keep it moist. It will require frequent misting, usually at least once in the morning and once in the evening.

Water

Choosing a good substrate is a start but your bullfrog needs an aquatic area in its tank. In nature they tend to spend a lot of their time near the edges of lakes and ponds, and they are known to hang out in the water too.

This is probably the trickiest part in setting up an indoor enclosure. You want to have enough water for your pet to completely submerge itself, but you don’t want the water body to take up most of or all the floor.

Also, having a static body of water in the tank requires a lot of attention to keeping the water and tank as a whole clean.

Lighting & Heating

Bullfrogs spend a lot of time in the sunlight in nature, so you are going to want to emulate that if you house your’s indoors. That means you will need to supply some supplemental lighting.

You will want to get both a full spectrum light and you might want to consider a bulb just for UVB as well.

Depending on where you live and how you keep your home, you might need a heat lamp too. The frogs tends to do well in the mid 70’s to mid 80’s (Fahrenheit) but low 70’s at night is OK. You want to avoid extreme cold and extreme heat though.

This goes for both the air and the water temperatures.

Humidity

As mentioned before, American bullfrogs thrive in humid settings. They like the 60–80% range.

This isn’t always easy to maintain. The good news is since you have an open body of water in their tank, a light misting each morning and evening should be enough.

Privacy

With almost every reptile pet, you will need to provide some privacy. This is usually in the forms of a hide, or a place they can go to escape prying eyes. Having a hide for your bullfrog is a good idea too.

You may notice your pet frog trying to jump through the glass of its enclosure as well. If that happens you should cover some of the glass on the outside with dark paper to provide more cover.

Feeding & Diet Needs

Housing your bullfrog is only one aspect of being a good owner. You also need to ensure it has a healthy diet and gets all the nutrition it needs to survive.

Saying that American bullfrogs are good eaters is an understatement.

A typical diet for a captive frog is usually similar to that of an insectivore, though they are technically carnivores. They tend to do well on:

  • mealworms
  • super worms
  • hornworms
  • crickets
  • dubia roaches

Some people feed them small fish too that the release into the aquatic area of the tank.

In nature though they would have a much more varied diet as they would basically eat anything they could get ahold of including other frogs.

It should go without saying but you want to mind the size of the feeders you give your frog. The rules most owners go by is to keep the worms, crickets and roaches no bigger than the space between the frog’s eyes. That allows them to easily consume and digest the food.

Like most captive reptiles, to round out there diet you will need to include some supplements. The usual supplement menu is a rotation of calcium with D3, calcium without D3 and a reptile multivitamin.

The easiest way to add these to their diet is to dust or coat the insect with the supplement powder before you give them to your frog.

Conclusion

Keeping you American bullfrog alive for its average lifespan (around 8-9 years in captivity) requires a lot of dedication. You need to keep it safe, comfortable and clean. You need to feed it well. And, you need to make sure it’s getting all the nutrition it needs through additional supplementation.

This guide covers most of the basics, but keeping a pet is a serious commitment. Make sure to do all the research you can before you take the plunge. And, don’t forget to support your local independent pet shop!

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