Home Pet Species & Condition The nutritional requirements of your froggy friend

The nutritional requirements of your froggy friend

The nutritional requirements of your froggy friend
Image Credit: Stephanie LeBlanc on Unsplash (Unsplash License)

by Niamh Cassidy, International Petfood, UK

Image Credit: Stephanie LeBlanc on Unsplash
(Unsplash License)

For those interested in keeping exotic pets, frogs are ideal. They can live happily in a relatively small space and do not require too much attention; however, they are a long-term commitment and it is still important to know your stuff when it comes to specific nutrition and care.

Wild frogs are facing a population decline and distinction as a result of human activities, therefore you should only buy frogs from places you are sure are locally captive-bred and tested to be free of disease when possible, so avoid catching wild frogs to keep as pets!

Different croaks for different folks

The right research for the type of amphibian you acquire is essential, to gain a better understanding of their specific nutritional guidelines and requirements. frog varieties range from semi-aquatic and aquatic, to terrestrial and tree frogs.

The most popular species of frog to keep as a pet is the african bullfrog. other popular species include the white lipped frog, the burmese chubby frog, the white tree frog, the bumblebee dart frog, the waxy monkey frog, the african dwarf frog, the tomato frog, the green and black dart frog, the red-eyed tree frog, the american green tree frog, the gray tree frog, the amazon milk frog, the oriental fire bellied frog, and the pacman frog/horned frogs.

Wild frog’s vs pet frog’s

Domesticating any wild animal, it is imperative to know and understand their natural habits, especially when it comes to eating preferences and hunting behaviour.

In the wild, frogs are carnivorous and eat a variety of insects. They are not scavengers, but predators and opportunistic hunters that will generally only eat something that is moving such as live insects. Feeding them dead bugs will not work!

Wild frogs tend to eat whenever possible, so their habits range from eating several small preys in a day, to eating bigger prey such as grasshoppers or small rodents over several days. Their eating habits must accommodate a good balance between conserving energy and using energy to hunt. Their hunting behaviours are nocturnal, wild frogs rely on the cover of darkness to keep them hidden from potential predators.

Pet frogs have owners to decide for them what they eat, which means there is room to be more selective in diet to make healthier choices, however it should still reflect the variety of a wild frog.

A key difference with keeping frogs as pets is the water consumption. Amphibians are very sensitive to the chemicals in our tap water, so would require all water to be dechlorinated (dechlorinators can be purchased at most aquarium stores).

Frogs do not drink through their mouths, rather they absorb water through their skin! This means you’ll need to provide either a pool of water in the tank or mist the tank regularly, but it’s best if you do both.

What’s on the menu

Generally, a pet frog’s diet should include a variety of insects and small bugs. This includes crickets, mealworms, and waxworms (all easier to purchase at pet stores), as well as locusts, grasshoppers (both trickier to find but more nutritionally beneficial), caterpillars, worms (ensure the size is suitable), spiders, and butterflies.

Aquatic frogs eat a variety of aquatic invertebrates, from bloodworms, redworms and blackworms, to tadpoles, mosquito larvae, and brine shrimp.

For smaller frogs, appropriate foods include ants, aphids, springtails, mosquito larvae and fruit flies. Larger species will be able to eat small mice, bear in mind the live ones are more likely to be eaten. The rule generally is that the prey needs to be less wide than the frog’s head.

How often to feed

Energy levels and size of frogs will indicate how often frogs will need feeding.

Frogs with higher energy levels should be more frequently fed, once to twice a day. This could mean leaving bits of food for the insects to eat, such as fruits or veggies.

Frogs with mid energy labels require to be fed every other day or every third day.

Generally, this means offering them as many insects as they can eat in 15 seconds (before removing the remaining bugs). Larger frogs (that eat mice) should be fed less frequently, once per week or even once every other week.

Logistics of Feeding

Place the food no further away than the distance between the frogs’ eyes (usually 1 – 2 cm), and make sure the prey is gut-loaded. When feeding, do not move the frog into a separate container, this will cause unnecessary stress and your frog may refuse to eat! Just place the dusted prey into the frog’s container using tweezers or feeding tongs one at a time. Dumping all the insects in at once might overwhelm the frog and allow some prey to escape. Feeding session should last ten to 20 minutes, anything after this session should be removed.

What to avoid

Wild-caught bugs shouldn’t be fed to frogs! Pets and wild species will ultimately have different diets and should be treated as such – wild insects pose the risk of pesticide exposure, which can be dangerous for your frog. Also avoid feeding your frog any fruits or veggies, or human table scraps.

Nutritional specifics

For optimum nutritional value, bugs fed to frogs should be gutloaded. Gut-loading basically just means you need to feed the prey nutritious and vitamin-rich foods before feeding the prey to your frog. When you are buying your prey from pet stores, they will not usually be gut-loaded, so it’s something you’ll need to do yourself. This step is vital as it ensures they get enough calcium in their diet, which protects them from developing bone diseases, as well as other important vitamins.

An additional option for maintaining good nutritional levels is using nutritional supplements by ‘dusting’ them on your pet’s food. Reptile calcium powder is easy to find, but it should include D3 as a minimum, to help your frog synthesise the calcium better.

Benefits of a froggy friend

Frogs are relatively inexpensive to keep as pets, require less maintenance than your average house pet, and take up much less space. Many species live for five to 10 years, but some species can surpass 15 to 25 years in age, making them a long-term commitment for those interested.


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