Pacman Frogs as Pets

Pacman frogs or Ornate horned frogs (Ceratophys ornata) on leaf, close-up
Pacman frogs close up on green leaf. Schafer and Hill/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Pacman frogs are relatively common in the pet trade. They get their common (pet trade) name from the popular arcade game due to their rounded appearance and huge mouth. Pacman frogs are not terribly difficult to care for and they can make a good pet that is quite interesting. However, people who like their pets to be active or interactive may get tired of caring for a pacman frog since they are not the best pet for handling.

 

Names: Ceratophrys ornata, Ornate horned frog, Pacman frog, Pac-man frog, Pac man frog, South American horned frog, Argentine horned frog, ornate pacman frog, Argentine wide-mouthed frog

Size: About 6 inches long with females being larger than males. They are also about as wide as they are long.

Lifespan:7-10 years

Pacman Frogs in the Wild

Pacman frogs are native to South America. They are terrestrial (land dwellers) amphibians and are actually very poor swimmers. They spend most of their time in a humid environment among damp leaf litter. 

A pacman frog's appetite matches their size and they will pretty much eat anything that moves within striking distance of where they sit and wait on the ground. Any prey that walks by is fair game for this hungry frog.

Housing Pacman Frogs

Pacman frogs, despite their large size do not need a large cage since they are not very active. A 10 gallon tank is fine for one of these frogs.

Because they will often try to eat their cage mates, they should be housed alone. A cage top is recommended to help maintain temperature and humidity but Pacman frogs are not known to be at risk of escaping.

The tank can be lined with paper or smooth rocks, as long as leaf litter or moss and some plants (live or artificial) are provided for your frog to burrow/hide in.

The substrate should be misted daily to help maintain high humidity (over 50%).

A shallow bowl of water should also be provided. The dish must be fairly shallow (e.g. a ceramic saucer from a plant pot) to minimize the risk of your frog drowning. Depending on how humid your tank is, your pacman frog might spend much of their time in their water dish, so providing plants around the dish will help your frog feel more secure. The water dish should also be in a warmer part of the cage so that the water does not get too cold.

Heat and Lighting for Pacman Frogs

The temperature in the tank should be kept around 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius) during the day and allowed to drop to around 78 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) at night. Heat is best supplied with use of an under tank heater as overhead incandescent bulbs can be too drying for your frog (although a red incandescent could be used if supplemental heat is needed at colder times).

For lighting, a fluorescent fixture can be used although your frog might prefer more subdued lighting and regular room light may be enough. A 12 hour light and 12 hour dark cycle can be provided. The use of full spectrum lighting for amphibians is somewhat controversial.

Some people recommend providing a UVA/UVB light for this 12 hour cycle.

Feeding Pacman Frogs

Pacman frogs are pretty easy to feed since they are not usually fussy eaters. Smaller pacman frogs can be fed insects such as crickets, or other common pet store prey insects such as mealworms, wax worms, etc., that are gut loaded prior to feeding. As your frog grows, they can be fed pinkie (newborn) mice and eventually larger mice. They may take a medium sized mouse or pinkie rat as an adult sized frog. Guppies, a variety of insects, and even smaller frogs can also be fed to your pacman frog. While small pacman frogs (eating insects) should be fed daily, larger frogs can be fed mice or feeder fish every 2-3 days. The best guide is to feed based on your frog's body condition (if your frog is getting too round and fat, cut back on how often they are fed).

Edited by Adrienne Kruzer, RVT