Frogs will eat practically anything in the wild, from butterflies to spiders! But keeping them as pets is a little different. Besides, we cannot always ensure that these will be around for our amphibians to eat. As such, it is essential that we proactively source appropriate food for our frogs; but what do we provide? Let’s find out!
So, what do frogs eat as a pet? Pet frogs should eat a varied diet of live insects, worms, and even small mammals (depending on the frog species being kept). Generally, any food offered should be smaller than the width of the frog’s mouth. All pet frog food should be fed live, or else there is the risk that food is neglected and ignored.
Frogs can be very rewarding pets, but it is essential to remember that these animals are carnivores and need to be fed a diet that reflects what they eat in the wild.
And furthermore, each frog species has particular dietary needs and preferences.
So, it’s best to do your research into the specific species of frog you are keeping.
Nevertheless, there are a couple of rules that apply to any pet frog:
A frogs’ hunting instinct is based on movement, so feeding live prey is essential.
Many frogs won’t even bother with a dead insect!
Equally as important is ensuring you offer your pet a varied diet.
Crickets are the cheapest and easiest food source for captive frogs; however, there are plenty of other options available.
And feeding them will ensure your frog gets all the vitamins it needs to survive.
Let us now take a closer look at those other options and how to feed a pet frog appropriately!
What Do You Feed A Pet Frog?
What you feed a pet frog will depend on the species. There are roughly 5000 frog species across the globe, each with its own specific dietary needs.
As a general rule, frogs are notorious for being opportunistic hunters, which means they will attempt any prey that crosses their path!
However, frog owners still need to take careful consideration when planning the captive diet.
This will help ensure they remain healthy and do not end up suffering from vitamin deficiencies.
The most important rule when feeding pet frogs is the size of the prey you are offering; these should always be smaller than the width of your frogs’ mouth.
Any bigger and food could get trapped in the intestines, which can cause severe health issues.
It is also worth considering your frog’s natural habitat.
Land dwelling species will readily take various insects like crickets and worms, whereas aquatic species will prefer invertebrates that live in the water.
If you choose to go with a larger species such as a Pacman frog or Bullfrog, you need to be aware that these frogs will require small mammals in their diet, such as mice.
It comes as no surprise that this can be a little overwhelming for some people!
In general, most medium-sized captive frogs will be fed on a diet consisting of:
These active critters can be bought live from virtually any pet store and contain high levels of protein.
They can also be easily bred at home, making them the most cost-efficient prey item for frog enthusiasts.
Mealworms And Waxworms
These are also commonly found in pet stores and are much slower moving than crickets, making them a more appealing option for owners who are a little squeamish with insects!
However, they should not form the bulk of your frogs’ diet as they are high in fat, especially waxworms.
Locusts And Grasshoppers
A little harder to find than the above options but are a great addition to your frogs’ diet if you can find them.
Their erratic movements make them very exciting to a frog and can easily be bred at home if you have a suitable sealable container.
These are an excellent nutritional food source for your frog but ensure you buy the correct size as they can get large!
They also have a tough exoskeleton which smaller frogs may have trouble digesting.
Brine Shrimp, Blackworms, and Bloodworms
These will be the staple diet for most aquatic frog species, along with other types of worms.
Try to purchase gut-loaded insects where possible, as these will be much healthier for your frog, but more on that later!
What Human Food Can Frogs Eat?
In general, most human food is unsafe for frogs to eat. Frogs are strict carnivores and have evolved to require certain nutrients, so their natural diet should be respected and adhered to as much as possible.
There is a belief that some frogs will eat fruits and vegetables, but it is not common and probably not particularly good for them.
Besides, frogs enjoy going after live prey, so the broccoli off your plate probably wouldn’t be as appealing as a lively locust!
Saying that, as carnivorous animals, some frog species will happily take a piece of unsalted fish or unflavoured chicken from you once in a while.
But, do make sure any morsal you give them is small enough to eat without causing digestive issues.
You should never offer your frog dog or cat biscuits either, as these animals have different nutritional requirements to amphibians.
Finally, captive frogs should never be fed wild-caught insects.
It can be tempting to grab some from the garden if you have a healthy population, but these critters could have been exposed to pesticides which could be detrimental to your frogs’ health if ingested.
Captive frogs are susceptible to a range of nutritional imbalances if their dietary needs are not met.
Perhaps the most detrimental of these is a vitamin A deficiency, as frogs cannot synthesis this vitamin on their own.
Many owners choose to dust their insects with Calci-dust or another vitamin A supplement because captive-bred insects are known to be less nutritious than those in the wild.
Hypovitaminosis A, commonly known as ‘Short-Tongue Syndrome, has only recently been discovered in amphibians after a study was conducted on a captive population of Wyoming toads.
The toads were bred with the intention of re-releasing them into the wild; however it was noticed that the toads were unable to capture prey with their tongues.
They were able to extend their tongues, but the prey was somehow left unharmed.
Further studies found that this issue had nothing to do with the tongue being deformed but was, in fact, down to their mucus glands becoming clogged due to lack of vitamin A.
This meant that the tongue was not sticky enough to capture prey items effectively.
Hypovitaminosis A can also cause weight loss, eyelid swelling, fluid build-up in the abdomen, and even sudden death in the most extreme cases.
Vitamin A is essential for bone metabolism and eyesight, so it is crucial to ensure your frog gets enough of it in order to remain healthy.
How Often Should You Feed Your Pet Frog?
The amount of food offered will depend on the species and also the age of your frog. Juveniles under 16 weeks should ideally be fed every day but do make sure the food is not too large for them to handle. Adult frogs can be fed roughly every two to three days.
In the wild, a frogs’ feeding habits would be entirely dependent on the local resources available, which rise and dip according to the seasons.
Captive frogs are blessed with having a steady supply of yummy food all year round, which sounds great on paper but can lead to obesity issues.
Frogs in captivity will keep eating if allowed, with no regard for their bodies’ energy needs, so you will need to develop a set feeding schedule for them.
Obese frogs can suffer from respiratory issues, lethargy, and moving difficulties, but the good news is the effects can be reversed by sticking to a strict diet for a period of time.
If you are concerned, it is always best to seek advice from a vet.
One of the most popular frog species kept as pets are White’s Tree Frogs.
This is due to their docile nature, which makes them relatively easy frogs for beginners.
As medium-sized frogs, they offer the perfect framework for setting out a standardized feeding schedule.
A typically week’s feeding for one of these frogs is:
Staple Diet Options (to be fed 2-3 times a week):
- Dubia Cockroaches
- Nightcrawlers (earthworms)
Semi-occasional options (to be fed once a week):
- Horned worms
These frogs are large enough to take on pinkie mice, too; however, it is not advised to feed mammals to this species as they are fairly lazy and rodents are high in fat.
White’s Tree Frogs are also nocturnal so try to feed them at least an hour after the lights are turned off to encourage natural behaviors.
In contrast, the aquatic African Dwarf Frog would be more suited to a diet consisting of shop-bought sinking pellets, brine shrimp, daphnia, and finely chopped krill or prawns every other day.
Most of these food items can be easily bought from local pet stores or online retailers.
They are normally sold live and in bulk, so do ensure you have the means to care for them.
Many feeder insects can now be purchased ‘gut-loaded, which simply means they are fed nutritious food which will then be passed onto your frog.
However, many owners choose to breed their own feeder insects as it is the most cost-effective option and means that you can be in control of what they are fed.
All you need is a clear sealable container, a suitable substrate, bug gel (insects like crickets can easily drown in water bowls), and tasty morsels to feed them on, such as carrots, kale, and collard greens.
If you choose to breed locusts or crickets, ensure that your enclosure is escape-proof, as these critters are excellent escape artists!
How Much Should I Feed My Frog?
A good starter rule to follow, is to feed your frog 2-3 feeder items per feed. If these are devoured quickly then you can increase the daily feed by one insect and see how they get on. All food offered in one sitting should be consumed within 15 minutes.
It is important that you watch your frog to ensure they eat, and then remove any uneaten items.
Leaving food in for your frog to eat later is not recommended as insects may start breeding in the tank, and then you have a whole new issue to deal with!
It is especially important not to leave crickets in the enclosure as they can deliver a nasty bite to your frog.
Live insects can be thrown in front of your frogs’ face for them to eat, or you can offer them using tweezers.
Some frogs can get a little over-excited at mealtimes and may end up ingesting some gravel or other matter on the floor of their enclosure along with their food.
So you must keep them on a safe substrate that will not cause harm.
Safe substrates include coco fiber or untreated topsoil.
Do not use bark or large gravel pieces as they can get lodged in your frogs’ intestines which can be fatal.
This issue, known as impaction, usually requires a vet visit.
If you notice a loss of appetite in your frog, there could be a number of causes. It is often either because the food being offered is too large or the habitat requirements are not ideal.
It is always best to do your research before purchasing a frog.
Get to know your exact species and everything they need.
And it’s not just about diet here.
While you must feed your species appropriately, there are many other aspects of care you must consider.
But it will all be worth it.
The more you learn, the easier and more rewarding it will all be.