Owning a Pacman Frog: What You Need to Know

Are Pacman frogs easy to take care of? Learn about their habitat, diet, and other essential care requirements.

May 13, 2024By Molly Weinfurter
owning pacman frog what to know

Pacman frogs, also known as South American horned frogs, are one of the most popular pet frog species. However, are they easy to care for? Before you consider bringing one home, familiarize yourself with their enclosure, feeding, and care requirements. If you’re looking for a unique pet you can admire rather than hold, a Pacman frog may be a good fit for you.

What Are Pacman Frogs?

pacman frog black background
Image credit: Pixabay

Pacman frogs are medium to large amphibians that are native to the warm jungles of South America. They have round bodies and horn-like spikes above their eyes, which is why they’re often called horned frogs. They’re named after Pacman because their shape along with their big mouths resemble the arcade character.

Even though they’re labeled as frogs, they have bumpy skin like toads typically have. (Although, toads are a type of frog). These frogs are fully terrestrial. They need a damp environment, but they don’t need deep water since they can’t swim well.

When full-grown, males are 2.5 to 4 inches long while females are 4 to 7 inches. These frogs are colorful with a mixture of green, brown, orange, yellow, and red coloring.

The Enclosure Must Allow for Burrowing

pacman frog enclosure
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

A Pacman frog enclosure should be at least 20 gallons. They’re not very active and can’t climb, so their tank should be long instead of tall. They need areas they can burrow under, such as moss, plants, and leaf litter.

The enclosure’s substrate should be able to hold moisture well. Pacman frog owners will likely need to mist the substrate with water daily to keep it damp. There should also be a shallow bowl of water in the tank to allow your frog to hydrate without drowning.

Pacman frogs will eat anything that fits in their mouth, which could even include smaller frogs. Thus, it’s best to house them alone so they don’t accidentally eat their tankmate. They start as tadpoles like other frog species, but they’re typically not sold as pets until they’re adults.

Humidity and Temperature: Important Factors

pacman frog in puddle
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Ideally, the Pacman frog’s enclosure should have 50% to 80% humidity. Regularly spraying water on the substrate can help the space stay humid. These amphibians thrive in a warm environment, so 75 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.

To keep track of the humidity and temperature, you can buy a thermometer and hygrometer to put in the enclosure. That way, you can easily observe the tank’s conditions whenever you walk past.

Pacman Frogs Are Meat-eaters

small horned frog
Image credit: Pexels

Pacman frogs eat a variety of other animals, including crickets, mealworms, waxworms, small fish, and mice. All these food options are typically sold at pet supply stores.

Small Pacman frogs are fine eating bugs, but pinky mice are an essential food for large frogs because of how nutritious they are. Pinky mice are usually small, hairless mice that are sold live or frozen. They’re not like the mice sold and kept as pets.

If you’re feeding insects to a small Pacman frog, they should be fed daily. However, large frogs eating larger food, such as mice or fish, should eat once every few days. If you notice that your frog is getting rounder than normal, you may need to feed them less.

When serving food, use feeding tongs/tweezers. Pacman frogs have small teeth that can draw blood if they accidentally bite your finger.

Frogs’ Tanks Require Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

pacman frog temporary enclosure
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

You’ll need to regularly spot-clean your frog’s enclosure, removing poop and debris whenever you see it. Then, once every two weeks, you should replace the substrate completely. To do so, you should move your frog to a temporary enclosure during the process.

When cleaning the tank, rinse the decorations and interior with dechlorinated water. Then, completely set the tank back up the way it was before putting your frog back in the tank.

Like all amphibians, Pacman frogs have sensitive skin, so they should be handled minimally. Picking them up briefly to move them to a temporary enclosure is fine, but you should avoid holding them if it’s not necessary. They’re similar to pet chameleons in that they’re more suited for decoration than interaction.

Common Health Concerns with Pacman Frogs

close up horned frog eyes
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Infections are the most common concern these frogs face. They could develop bacterial or fungal infections on their skin and eyes. If you notice redness, swelling, or discharge, it could be a sign of an infection. Parasitic infections are also possible.

If your Pacman frog doesn’t have enough humidity in their enclosure, they could face respiratory issues. They may drool, wheeze, or appear drowsy. Frogs could also develop health concerns from oils on human skin if they’re handled too much.

While health concerns are rare in Pacman frogs, it’s a good idea to have the number of an exotic pet vet in your phone just in case. Contact your vet if you ever notice concerning appearances or behaviors in your frog.

Who Should Own a Pacman Frog?

red orange pacman frog
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Pacman frogs are fairly easy to care for, so anyone can own them, as long as they’ve done their research. However, anyone who brings a Pacman frog into their home must understand that these pets are just for admiring, not holding or petting.

If you want a Pacman frog, you also can’t be squeamish. You’ll need to feed your frog animals like insects and mice. So, make sure that’s something you’re comfortable with before getting one of these frogs.

Frogs are fascinating creatures, and there are so many frog fun facts out there. Yet, anyone who wants a popular pet frog like the Pacman frog must be prepared before bringing one home. While these exotic animals make great pets, thoroughly research the species to make sure it’s the right pet for you.

Molly Weinfurter
By Molly Weinfurter

Molly has over 5 years of experience writing about animals for various websites. She has two pets of her own: a small dog (Mabel) and an axolotl (Wooper). She’s extremely passionate about helping animals in need, so she regularly volunteers with animal organizations by fostering pets, helping at adoption events, and educating about puppy mills.