Pacman Frog Care Sheet

With their almost comical appearance, it’s not hard to see why so many people like the idea of owning a Horned aka Pacman Frog. And when you consider how low maintenance Pacman Frogs are, it makes sense that they’re one of the most popular amphibians on the market. This Pacman Frog care sheet covers all the basics you’ll need to know to look after a Pacman Frog, but there are a couple of dedicated books out there that are worth checking out too: Horned Frogs: Plus Budgett’s Frogs (Advanced Vivarium Systems) and Quick & Easy Horned Frog Care.

Pacman Frog Size

Pacman Frogs are pretty big and can grow to be around 6″ (15cm) long. Generally their width is around the same as their length, which gives the classic Pacman shape, helped along by the ridiculously wide mouth.

Pacman Frog Lifespan

The average life expectancy for a Pacman Frog is around seven years, but some will live for a full decade if looked after properly.

Image by Mike Baird

Image by Mike Baird

Pacman Frog Sexing

Sexing can be a little tricky sometimes, but female Pacman Frogs tend to be a little larger and have a more rounded shape than male Pacman Frogs, which have darker throats and nuptial pads. Males will also call when their mating season comes around, and the timing can vary significantly in captivity).

Pacman Frog Housing

Because they’re not particularly active creatures, Pacman Frogs don’t require anything larger than a 10-20 gallon tank to live in despite their large size. For a 10 gallon enclosure, we like this tank. The 20 gallon tank is also ideal. Pacman Frogs should only ever be kept individually, as their voracious appetites regularly overrule their brains, even when it comes to attempting to eat another Pacman Frog of a similar size.

Pacman Frogs like to burrow, so a suitable substrate is essential – roughly 3″ of Eco Earth loose coconut fiber substrate is generally perfect, as it allows your frog to burrow, it retains moisture well, and the substrate won’t harm your frog if any gets ingested. Yes, Pacman Frogs will even eat their own enclosures! An alternative substrate is standard soil, but you must be certain it has not been contaminated by pesticides, fertilizers or parasites. The final option is the simplest and cheapest, but also the least attractive and most unnatural: paper towels. Still, they do the job. The substrate should be kept moist but not wet, and misting just one end of the tank will give your Pacman Frog a choice of moisture levels to help regulate its own body temperature.

Finally, you’ll want to add some cover to the tank. A few plants (which can be real or plastic) and one of the widely available amphibian/reptile-friendly caves would be perfect and will keep your frog nice and happy.

Everything in the tank should be cleaned with an amphibian-friendly disinfectant like Zoo Med disinfectant and the substrate replaced once a week. Even using the appropriate cleaning products, you must still make sure that everything is rinsed very thoroughly afterwards.

Temperature, Lighting and Humidity

Your tank should be kept at between 80F-85F during the day, dropping by around 5F overnight. If your house is cooler than this, the best way to heat up the enclosure is to use a heat mat attached to the outside of the terrarium, but on the side of the tank, not underneath it. This is because Pacman Frogs burrow to keep cool, so obviously it’s not great if they’re burrowing towards a heat source! The other option is a heat lamp, which will work but tends to dry out enclosures quite quickly so you might struggle to keep the humidity high enough. A heat mat thermostat must always be used to ensure you don’t accidentally cook your frog!

Any special lighting is completely optional with Pacman Frogs; just make sure the lights are switched off during the night. They will prefer a roughly even split between ‘daylight’ and ‘night time’, but you should be able to use your lights as you normally would without any problems. You should also keep the tank out of direct sunlight or else you run the risk of your pet Pacman frog overheating.

Daily misting should be enough to keep the humidity at around the favored level of 80%, and using a good substrate like Eco Earth and having a water bowl will help (more on this below). The water used for misting should be dechlorinated before you put it into a spray bottle as any chlorine in the water may harm your Pacman Frog, and could even be fatal. If you get the humidity right then mold shouldn’t form and the substrate will remain moist but not wet. To measure the humidity accurately a hygrometer is strongly recommended.

Pacman Frog Diet and Water

Live gut-loaded crickets are the staple food of choice for Pacman Frogs, providing most of the nutrition they need. These should be given to young frogs on most days of the week, or even every day. Adults only need feeding about three times per week. Your frogs will need a calcium supplement to keep them healthy, and possibly a vitamin supplement as well. It’s easiest to do this by dusting powdered supplements over your frog’s food. This should be done once a week for adult Pacman Frogs, or a couple of times a week for young frogs.

Pacman Frogs will eat more or less anything you put in front of them if it moves, so there’s lots you can give them. Finding suitable food is definitely an easy part of Pacman Frog care! The main thing to watch out for is accidentally giving them food with traces of chemicals or pesticides, so food you’ve caught in the wild may well not be as safe as live food from a pet shop. Earthworms are good, and treats every now and then can include pinky mice, slugs, waxworms, and if the frog’s big enough, fuzzy mice, guppy fish, cockroaches and locusts.

You’ll also need to give your frog a shallow water dish for it to drink out of and/or soak in. The water should never be any deeper than neck-height or else your frog may well drown in its drinking water. A dish like this should be ideal.

Pacman Frog Shedding

Every now and again your frog will shed its skin. This is completely natural and nothing to worry about. You probably won’t even realize when it’s happened a lot of the time as Pacman Frogs will frequently eat their own discarded skins, which are more nutritious than you might imagine. If your frog is having trouble sloughing its skin, there’s a good chance the humidity in the tank is too low, so try raising the humidity levels. Measure the humidity levels with a good hygrometer if you’re not sure.

Pacman Frog Handling

Pacman Frog

Photo by Chris Parker via Flickr

Despite the obvious temptation, you should try to avoid handling your Pacman Frog as much as possible. If you have to, make sure that you rinse your hands thoroughly first as your frog will otherwise absorb oils, chemicals and soap from your skin when you hold it. Being handled will often stress Pacman Frogs, and there’s a good chance of them mistaking your finger for food. Their bites are quite painful, but nothing to really worry about if you clean the bite afterwards.

We hope that this Pacman Frog care sheet (or Horned Frog care sheet) has given you all the information you need to give your Pacman Frog a long, happy and healthy life. If you’ve got any questions, be sure to get in touch and we’ll do our best to help.