Ornate Pacman frog
Care Guide and General Information
The pacman, or horned frog (Ceratophrys ornate) is rising in popularity because of its unique looks and basic care. They originate from the tropical rainforests in South America. Breeders have now come up with albino pacman frogs, and they are relatively inexpensive. These guys can be a little lazy, but they are a great first pet, or even first amphibian.
Pacman frogs can live to be from 8-10 years old on average. For the most part, they are round, and love sitting in a single spot, only getting up to go to the bathroom or catch its food.
A pacman frogs head is joined to its body with no neck. They have large mouths that make up most of the head, hence the name pacman. Two eyes pop out above the gaping mouth. These frogs are colorful, but their base color normally stays green. Females stay larger and rounder than males.
Pacman frogs are fairly lazy, and prefer to be left alone. Handling is not recommended often because some are grumpy, and they are one of only a few frogs with teeth. Wash your hands both before and after handling because frogs are very sensitive to oils that may be on your hands. Be sure there is no lotion or soapy residue on your hands before handling.
Juvenile pacman frogs need to be fed every other day because they are still growing, but once they are adults feeding only once or twice a week is acceptable. As baby frogs grow, the size of the crickets and insects they consume should also increase. If your frog has trouble swallowing the crickets or isn't interested in them, try providing a smaller size.
Juvenile food should be dusted with 100% calcium at least two or three times a week, and adult food once a week. This keeps their bones healthy and strong.
Crickets should make up a bulk of their diet, but some might also enjoy silk or phoenix worms. Mealworms have a hard shell that makes it less filling and harder to digest. After it stops hunting, remove any extra insects so they do not bother your pacman.
A plastic shoebox or critter keeper is an appropriate size for any juvenile under six months of age. Once they outgrow that, a ten gallon aquarium should be the minimum. Keep frogs separate because they have known to attempt to eat each other, especially two males. A screen lid should be on the tank at all times to prevent escapes. If given the chance, they will try to get out.
The bottom of the tank they live in does not have to be anything fancy, since they prefer humidity, paper towels work fine, and are the best choice for hatchlings that have just completed metamorphosis. If you want you can use non-fertilized potting soil or commercially made bed-a-beast. Sphagnum moss is an attractive substrate as well. Loose substrates should be avoided for the young because if they ingest too much of it catching crickets, then they can become impacted, normally resulting in death or a very high vet bill. Adults are less at risk of impaction because they have a stronger digestive system and larger bodies.
Being from South America, pacman frogs need a temperature of 80-85°F during the day, and dropping 10-15°F at night. Under tank heaters can be used to achieve this temperature, but glass may bend and break if water comes into contact with it. If you provide a thick enough substrate, this should not be a problem. The other option is a heat lamp. Make sure your frog cannot burn itself by getting too close. Stay away from hot rock or other heating devices that go inside the tank. These have been known t overheat quickly. They have burned many reptiles.
Water and Humidity
Preventing frogs from getting dehydrated is important because it is one of the main causes of death. Provide a water bowl big enough so a pacman can easily fit in, and it should be filled so the water is not over its head. Pacman frogs are not great swimmers, so water levels should not rise too high. Rocks can be put in the bowl and around the edges to help them get in and out if needed. They may stay in the bowl often, and they may go to the bathroom in it as well. Rinse and replace the water daily. Bottled or purified water should be used instead of tap.
Mist the cage once a week, and make sure your frog is properly hydrated. Hydration is a vital piece to giving your frog a stress free life.
Replace and rinse the water bowl every other day or when needed. Any soiled paper towels should be removed and loose substrates replaced after 6 months. Cleanup is pretty basic. Don't forget to mist a couple times a week.
Breeding pacmans is rewarding experience if you are prepared, and know what you are up against. A female will be much larger than a male, and will not croak during the breeding season. Males will croak to call females, and are a bit smaller. Before you put them together, and cross your fingers for eggs, there are a couple of things you need to do.
Both male and female must go through a dry spell that lasts 2-3 months. Fill a cage with sphagnum moss, a good 4 inches. Mist the cage and moss thoroughly once, but do not mist it after that. Provide a water bowl for them to drink if they choose to, but the will burrow in the moss and most likely stay there.
During this time they will not eat, and keep temperatures at 70°F. They will now go from very dry and cold to warm and wet.
The next step is to imitate the rain showers in spring. Place them in a 10 gallon tank filled with water so the can support themselves. Provide logs and rocks so they can be fully out of the water. Now you need to mimic rain. This is easiest if you set up a filter that takes water from the tank, and sprays it back into the tank on them. After all this the male and female(s) will be in the mood.
All the water needs to be replaced once a week because this is where they will go to the bathroom.
About half a week after the rain period has been going on the will mate and lay eggs. Aquatic plants, real or fake provide a nice place for the clusters to attach to. Once all the eggs are laid, adults should be removed and put back in a regular tank, separate.
Eggs will hatch in 2-3 days, and more water should be added to the tank, and the pump used for the rain can be turned off. Taking care of the tadpoles is a chore. They will eat cagemates, and there are a couple of ways to deal with this. Be sure you are feeding them enough, and separate the tadpoles into size groups. Since they grow rapidly you will have to do this process at least once daily. The other is giving them their own small jars. This prevents cannibalism, but you have to change the water every couple of days. Tadpoles can be fed tubifex worms.
After a month, the tadpoles will start the process of changing to a frog. They will need a place to climb out of the water as they develop legs. Cannibalism will increase in this stage, so the jars may work better. Young frogs still developing will attack anything that moves and are not picky at all. Crickets, mealworms, or small gold fish should be the staple.
Breeding and watching hatchlings grow is rewarding, but also time consuming. Be sure you are prepared before attempting to breed frogs.
Pacman frogs are very beautiful frogs, a little lazy most of the time, but have basic care and striking colors. Be sure to research, and do your homework before purchasing any pets.
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Travis McCray - November 25, 2011
Karen Coles - March 22, 2016
Happy with my Grey tree frog - August 30, 2021
I got 2 males and 6 female jones armadillo lizards from you apx 3 years ago.....yesterday I was pleased to find two of the cutest, tiniest babies ever. All the females are fat with babies so I am expecting more today and the next few days. My flame belly armadillo female is fat with babies also. Thanks for the healty well sexed stock. You guys are great. Not sure whether to keep babies in with adults, all adults sleep together crammed in a tiny cave but these little ones would fit in their mouth so I put them in their own set up with pin head crickets and wingless fruit flies. To say I AM THRILLED would be an understatement.
Sharon D Webb - November 9, 2013
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