Frogs are not one of the most common pets, but you’d be surprised how many people do like to keep one. And, one of the more popular options is the very adorable Pacman frog.
The Pacman frog, sometimes called the ornate or South American horned frog, though cute is not the type of pet you want to handle often. Unlike other popular reptile pets such as bearded dragons and leopard geckos that owners often handle daily, these little leapers are best admired visually only.
We’re going to take a look at how to best care for these lovely little large-mouth circular creatures named after the 1980’s video game PAC-MAN, so if you plan to buy one soon keep reading.
The official scientific name of Pacman frogs is Ceratophrys ornate. They are a fairly easy species to take care of, but you are going to want to adequately prepare to ensure yours will have a healthy long life.
Setting Up a Tank
Your new pet will need a new home. And yes, when we say new home we mean just that. You are not going to want to house them with another similar frog or any other reptile.
That is because Pacman frogs are carnivores and have no problem eating one of their own.
The good news here though is that due to being a fairly small reptile growing on average to about five to eight inches from head to tail with females often being larger than males, you can create their artificial habitat in something as small as a ten gallon tank. You can go larger too if you want but there really isn’t any need to do so.
Simply providing a tank is not nearly enough however. You need to recreate something akin to their natural habitat.
Substrate is the bottom of the tank. Basically, it’s what your frog will be hopping on. Since Pacman frogs like to burrow and wait for prey to pass them by, you will do best by choosing a loose substrate that allows for them to dig.
Many people choose to line the bottom of the tank with coconut fiber. There are some other options too from companies like Zoo Med and Exo Terra. Whatever you do don’t use sand. It’s not a better choice than the above options and it can actually cause health problems if consumed.
Choosing the right substrate is only part of the job though. You also need to ensure that it stays moist. Think more rain forest and less desert.
Lighting and Heating
A big part of creating an artificial environment is providing proper light and heat.
Reptiles in general prefer a very small temperature window compared to most mammals, and these rounds ones are no different. They thrive in temperatures in the mid-70’s (around 74° and 80° Fahrenheit or 24° to 27° Celsius). In order to establish this you may need an under tank heat pad or a heat lamp. But, you don’t want to make their terrarium too hot, so spend a few days dialing in the right temperature before getting your frog.
A tank thermometer will help with this task as well as allow you to monitor the temperature into the future as well.
Regarding lighting, since Pacman frogs are by nature nocturnal you do not need any special lighting if there is natural sunlight hitting their tank on the daily. But, if they are housed in a room that does not get much natural light, you might need supplemental lighting to mimic a natural day-night light cycle.
This species does best if a fairly humid environment. So, along with having a properly heated a lit enclosure, you need to ensure the humidity is fairly consistent.
Pacman frogs thrive in a humidity range between 50% to 80%. Getting this dialed in is most likely going to be a bit more difficult than the temperature as the fluctuations of your external environment can really affect the humidity in the tank too.
Keeping the substrate moist and adding in some live plants can really help get the humidity to the proper levels and to keep it there. You can also keep a shallow bowl of reptile safe water in the tank as well.
You can use a digital hydrometer to help you keep an eye on the humidity Some even come paired with digital thermometers.
Once you have the substrate, heating, lighting and humidity worked out you can focus on the finishing rounding out the terrarium.
As mentioned above you can add in some live plants. Having a few on different levels is recommended as your frog might mash them into the substrate if they are all located on the floor.
You will also want to include a hide or place for your frog to get away from light and prying eyes without the need to burrow. It will make them feel safe and reduce stress. They can be a bit picky though as they want some extra room under their hide but not too much. You might need to test a few until you find one they are comfortable with.
Unlike other reptiles that may require a dry and a humid hide, one will be enough.
Diet and Feeding
These frogs don’t get their robust shape from being picky eaters. They have a very healthy appetite.
They are carnivores and actually enjoy a similar diet to insectivores like leopard geckos. You can give them a variety of feeders like:
- dubia roaches
The key is to rotate their feeders and not stick to only one or two.
Like most reptiles, younger ones should be fed every day. You want to feed them enough so that they get their fill, but if you notice a lot of leftover feeders in their tank the next day reduce the amount you feed them. Plus, clean out the old feeders.
As your frog grows you can skip to feeding it only two to three days a week.
You will also need to occasionally dust or gut load the feeders, especially crickets, with vitamin D and calcium. This will ensure your Pacman frog is getting all the nutrition it needs.
You should now have the basics to knowing how to properly care for your Pacman frog. This guide covered the basics from setting up its enclosure to feeding it.
If you do a good job you will get to enjoy this wonderful reptile pet for anywhere from five to ten years and maybe even longer as their lifespan in captivity is much longer than that of in nature.