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Horned (Pac-Man) Frog - Ceratophrys ornata
Horned frogs do not need a tremendous amount of hands on care. You can find them in pet shops with the name: Pac-Man Frog (don't let that fool you, they are not cute little computer animals). They need a humid habitat (they come from the rainforests of South America) - so misting is required. They can be kept in limited space, however mature frogs should be kept in a tank that is at least 20 gallons.. They do feed on live food – primarily crickets and other small insects but mature frogs will eat small rodents THAT'S RIGHT SMALL RODENTS. They will need special care such as vitamin supplements and special lighting. It is best not to play with them as you would guinea pigs and other small animals. They do have special needs in their habitat and care. If you want a horned frog, you must be prepared to provide what your pet needs.


Average Size - 4 to 8 inches long

Life Span 5 to 7 years

Diet - Provide a variety of live insects, such as crickets and mealworms; goldfish; frozen, thawed rodents, warmed to room temperature; Dust the insects weekly with a pure calcium supplement and once or twice weekly with a vitamin/mineral supplement. Clean, fresh, filtered, chlorine- free water, changed daily. If you are using tap water, let it sit for a day before using it for your pet – this essentially eliminates any chlorine that will be present.

Feeding - feed growing frogs daily; feed adults once or twice a week; Obesity is a common problem in large terrestrial frogs, regulate their diets carefully. If feeding your frog live rodents, do not leave them unattended. Live rodents can injure the frog, sometimes fatally.

Housing Size -Juveniles, 5 a-gallon tank minimum; full-grown male needs a 20+-gallon tank; keep only one horned frog to a tank – they do not necessarily get along and may even kill each other.

Temperature - Maintain a range of 68 degrees F. to 80 degrees F., use a heat source when needed

Humidity - Maintain humidity by misting or with a glass top over part of the screen lid

Substrate - Provide a deep substrate, such as commercial mulch, bark chips, large gravel, sphagnum moss, or sterile potting soil

Water - Provide a constant supply of clean, fresh, filtered, chlorine-free water in a shallow bowl that cannot be tipped over and large enough for the frog to soak in and drink from; replace water daily Keep their environment very clean
Lighting - Full spectrum lighting is only necessary for live plants. A UVB can also be used since it helps your pet process calcium.

Normal Behavior and Interaction - Sedentary, aggressive, gluttonous, and cannibalistic when given the chance; awake during the day; can overpower and swallow prey almost its own size. They have very delicate skin which can be harmed by oils from human hands; handle with gloves. They shed periodically; after their skin is shed, they will eat it

Recommended Supplies:

  • Habitat 10 - 20 gallon tank with secure lid
  • Full spectrum fluorescent light
  • Drip system
  • Humidity gauge
  • Vitamin/mineral supplement
  • Thermometer – actually one for each side of the cage
  • Non-toxic plants; branches
  • Book about horned frogs
  • Incandescent light or ceramic heater
  • Tongs for feeding
  • Gloves for handling
  • Spray bottle  Mist bottle

Habitat Maintenance - Use an appropriate sized, small-mesh, soft net to move or block the frog while doing habitat maintenance; avoid handling; if you handle them be sure to wear latex gloves; residue or oil on your skin can harm amphibians. Thoroughly clean the tank at least once a week: set frog aside in a secure habitat; scrub the tank and furnishings with a 3% bleach solution; rinse thoroughly with water, removing all smell of bleach; dry the tank and furnishings; and add clean substrate. Change the water bowl after every visit, using water without chlorine or other additives

Grooming and Hygiene - Inspect skin for abrasions or signs of parasites, infection, or disease. Handle frogs as little as possible; always wash your hands before and after touching your horned frog or habitat contents to help prevent Salmonella and other infectious disease
Signs of a Healthy Pet: 

  • Active and alert
  • Healthy skin
  • Clear eyes  
  • Eats regularly
  • Clear nose and vent
  • Active and alert

Common Health Issues and Red Flags:

  • Lethargic
  • Skin lesions
  • Loss of appetite
  • Distressed breathing
  • Weight loss
  • Weak leg movements
  • Bloated abdomen

If you notice any of these signs, please contact your exotic animal veterinarian.

As with all pets in this category, it is important that you find a veterinarian that practices in EXOTICS – this is critical.

The typical small animal practitioner may not have sufficient knowledge in this area. Even this guide is general in nature and should not be used to diagnose your pet.

Related Horned Frog Categories

Horned Frog Q and A

Horned frog (pacman frog) pet care Questions and Answers from readers and members
Page Last Updated: Wednesday, June 8, 2011 21:29 EST
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