Pacman Frog (Ceratophrys ornata)



Named after the classic arcade game character, Pac-Man frogs get their name from their round body, enormous mouth and ravenous eating habits. They make great pets since they are hardy, easy to care for and readily available. Pac-Man frogs are nocturnal, terrestrial amphibians and are indigenous to the rainforests of South America. They spend much of their time sitting on the forest floor and eating anything that moves near them. Pretty much any prey that walks by will be eaten immediately.

Pac-Man frogs have very round, plump bodies and are usually green with red and brown spots. They have been bred in a variety of different colors as well, but shades of green are most common for their natural habitat. Like other types of frogs, Pac-Man frogs have sensitive skin, so try not to handle them more than necessary. Pac-Man frogs do have teeth and can pack a powerful, blood-drawing bite if upset. That being said, they are low maintenance and make great pets for owners who would like to observe instead of interact with.


Fun Facts about Pacman Frogs

  • Pac-Man frogs are one of the only types of frogs that have teeth. 
  • When their habitat is dry, or they can't find sufficient food sources, the Pac-Man frog's outer skin will turn tough and dry. This keeps their inner skin moist, and once rehydrated, they will shed and eat the old layer. 
  • Pac-Man frogs shouldn't be housed with others, as they may try to eat anything alive in their habitat, including fellow frogs.


Average Size and Life Expectancy of a Pacman Frog

Baby Pac-Man frogs are as small as quarters and reach their full-grown size after a year. Adult female frogs are bigger than adult male frogs. Females typically range from four to seven inches long, and males vary from two to four inches long. Due to their circular shape, Pac-Man frogs are about the same width as they are long. With the proper care, Pac-Man frogs will live up to 15 years in captivity.


Housing Your Pacman Frog

In their natural habitat, Pac-Man frogs spend the most considerable extent of their time buried in the mud or in moist leaves – with only their eyes sticking out. This is how they sit and wait for prey to come along. In captivity, they will do the same, so it's not necessary to purchase a large enclosure. A 10-gallon aquarium or terrarium with a screen top for air circulation will be perfect for your adult Pac-Man frog. When it is still a baby, you can keep your frog in a small plastic reptile holder. As adults, Pac-Man frogs are solitary creatures and are best housed individually so they don’t fight. 

Pac-Man frogs like to have areas where they can hide in their terrarium. They will use them as safe places to sleep during the day or regions to retreat to when they feel threatened. For a simple and humid hiding spot, consider making a special area out of a small cardboard box filled with moist moss. Other hiding accessories include logs, bamboo tubes and reptile tunnels. It can also be very beneficial to add live plants, such as Pothos plants, to your terrarium in order to provide hiding spots and increase humidity.


Substrate for your Pacman Frog

Since Pac-Man frogs love to burrow, you will want to pick a substrate that is easy for them to get underneath. Ground coconut, called Coir, or bark both make excellent substrates for burrowing. You can also use leaves, moss and live plants. 

The substrate should be two to three inches deep and damp at all times, but not soaking. Mist it daily with fresh, clean water from a spray bottle to keep the humidity levels up.


Temperature for Pacman Frogs

The optimal temperature level for Pac-Man frogs is between 75- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit in the day. At night temperatures can range from 65- to 75-degrees Fahrenheit. If they get too warm, they will bury in the cold, moist substrate to regulate their temperatures. 

To supply heat to the terrarium, use an under-tank heater because overhead bulbs can quickly dry out the Pac-Man frog’s sensitive skin. You will want to have two thermometers in the frog’s habitat, one to measure the heat near the heater and another on the far side of the terrarium to make sure there is also a cool area. The Pac-Man frog needs both warm and cold regions in the terrarium, so it can regulate its temperature properly.


Pacman Frog Lighting

Pac-Man frogs are nocturnal, they are very active at night and sleep during the day. A fluorescent UVB light fixture is perfect for providing your Pac-Man frog with a 12-hour cycle of light during the day to mimic the sunlight. This will help the frogs know what time of day it is so they can regulate their sleeping and eating schedules. It will also provide them vitamin D3, an essential vitamin for the frog's energy.


Humidity for Pacman Frogs

Pac-Man frogs enjoy humidity levels from around 50 percent to an upwards of 80 percent. If there is not enough humidity, the frogs can develop respiratory infections. The most reliable way to provide moisture for your Pac-Man frog is to reproduce a short evening rainstorm by misting the terrarium with fresh, clean water from a spray bottle. 

The humidity should dry out a bit before the morning because if the terrarium is too moist, it can harbor dangerous bacteria. If the terrarium is still very damp in the morning, you know you've sprayed too much. You may want to think about an automated rainfall system, this will keep the humidity levels steady and also water the foliage at the same time.


Water for Pacman Frogs

Keep a water bowl in the terrarium for your Pac-Man frog to drink as needed. It is vital that the container you use is shallow, as the frogs may want to take a dip, and they are not very strong swimmers. You will notice that some frogs will hang out in the water dish for extended amounts of time, so it is beneficial to place some plants around the dish to make it into a pleasant and protected spot for them. Also, keep the water dish on the warmer side of the terrarium, so the water doesn’t get too cold for the frog.


Pacman Frog Food

Known for their extremely ferocious appetite, Pac-Man frogs like a diet rich in juicy insects. You can feed them crickets and Dubia Roaches as their primary staple. For snacks, you can factor in mealworms, wax worms, small fish and mice. The bugs should be gut loaded before you provide them to the Pac-Man frog. Gut loading involves feeding the insects a diet abundant in vitamins and minerals at least 24-hours before serving them to the frog. By doing so, you will pass along the nutritious diet of the insects to the frog. 

If your Pac-Man frog is too cold, it will refuse food because its body will go into brumation. Brumation is a reptile’s way of hibernating and occurs naturally in the wild during cold winter months. You can ease the frog out of brumation by raising the temperature inside the terrarium. 

Your Pac-Man frog should be somewhat round, but if it is beginning to look abnormally fat and large, you may need to cut back on its feeding. Pac-Man frogs will naturally overeat in order to compensate for winter months when food is harder to come by. Of course, you will be feeding your frog year-around, so no need for your domestic Pac-Man to overindulge. You should feed juvenile Pac-Man frogs crickets or other insects once a day. As they grow to adults, include mice or feeder fish every couple days.


Conclusion

Pac-Man frogs are super fun to own as pets as long as you don’t mind not being able to physically play with them. Just like the video game character, Pac-Mac, these frogs eat just about anything that walks in front of them. You will surely be entertained by watching them quickly emerge from hiding in the mud to quickly snatch up an insect.