Ornate pacman frog, Ceratophrys ornata

Ornate pacman frogs are stunning and great for beginners

At a glance...
  • Ornate pacman frogs are ideal for first-timers
  • Huge appetites to match their large size
  • A stunning array of patterns and colours
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Do Ornate pacman frogs make good pets?

Ornate pacman frogs are slightly larger than the more common Cranwell’s pacman frog and are characterised by a more striking colour and pattern in adult individuals. Other than this, they look very similar and have identical care requirements. These terrestrial frogs are sit and wait predators and spend most of their time partially buried waiting for their prey to wander past. Therefore, they aren’t the most active frogs but instead move between a few choice spots in the enclosure. Ornate pacman frogs have an incredible feeding response and should not be kept with other individuals as they are likely to fight and cause injuries or even death to each other.

It is not unusual for an Ornate pacman frog to completely bury themselves in the substrate, this is not a cause for concern and they should not be dug up unless absolutely necessary as this can be stressful for them. All of our Ornate pacman frogs are captive bred in the UK, so you can rest assured that they are healthy and come from a reputable source.

What type of enclosure do I need for an Ornate pacman frog?

Despite not being the most active frogs, Ornate pacman frogs are still quite large and require enough space to move in between burrows. Due to this, we recommend a minimum adult enclosure size of 60 x 45 x 30cm (24 x 18 x 12”), a good example being the Exo Terra Glass Terrarium 60x45x30cm. Glass enclosures such as this tend to work much better due to Ornate pacman frogs higher humidity requirements, whereas wooden vivariums would be likely to warp in the moisture.

Do Ornate pacman frogs need heat?

As Ornate pacman frogs cannot control their own body temperature, they rely on external sources to provide them with warmth or help them to cool down. They do best in hot spot temperatures of around 28°C (82°F) and cool area temperatures closer to 22°C (71°F). The most effective way to achieve this is with a heat bulb or ceramic heater placed over the top of the terrarium, although overhead heating can be quite drying so this should be taken into account when using them. It is for this reason that some keepers opt for a heat mat stuck up the back or side of the enclosure, but these do not work as well to increase the ambient temperature so are less efficient.

To prevent overheating, all heating equipment must be attached to a relevant thermostat, it is important to ensure the correct thermostat is chosen for your chosen heating element. If using a basking lamp, a dimming thermostat is required, if using a ceramic heater or heat mat, either a pulse thermostat or simple on/off thermostat can be used, with pulse thermostats being more precise.

Do I need UV for my Ornate pacman frog?

Although they have often been kept in the hobby without UVB, Ornate pacman frogs are regularly exposed to sunlight in nature, and as such can benefit significantly from the presence of a low-level UVB light in captivity. The light produced by these units not only helps to keep your frog healthy by aiding bone development and preventing diseases, but provides them with a natural day-night cycle.

All UV lighting should be chosen based on the distance between the light fixture and the frogs basking area, so if this distance will be between 25-40cm (10-15”) then the Arcadia ShadeDweller ProT5 Kit is the best option. However, if the distance will be between 40-45cm (15-18”), then the slightly more powerful Arcadia ProT5 Kit - 6% Forest would be required.

Which substrate should I choose for my Ornate pacman frog?

A deep layer of soil-based substrates such as coco soil should be used for Ornate pacman frogs. These substrates will help to increase humidity whilst also providing a good medium for the frogs to burrow. If you would like to add live plants to the enclosure, a slightly more sophisticated soil mix is required, such as ProRep Bio Life Forest or Arcadia EarthMix.

If you do decide to go down the bioactive route, you will also need to add a drainage layer to prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged and causing your plant roots to rot. The best way to do this is with a layer of Hydro Rocks and a sheet of Hydro Matting placed on top before adding the substrate. This can also provide a water reservoir that will wick back up into the substrate if it dries out, further aiding with humidity levels.

What can I do to increase my Ornate pacman frogs humidity?

Ornate pacman frogs can quite comfortably tolerate humidity drops to around 60%, however, it is better to keep this within the 70-80% range. With a good drainage and substrate base, this can usually be maintained by spraying once or twice a day with a handheld spray bottle, although you may wish to add an automatic fogger or rain system to make things easier. You should also consider adding a large water dish that your frog can soak and hydrate in, and this will also assist with keeping the humidity levels up.

It is important with all amphibians that any water provided to them is dechlorinated with a reptile-safe water conditioner, and Ornate pacman frogs are no exception to this. Amphibians have a semi-permeable skin membrane across which they absorb water and other substances, due to this, the chlorine and chloramines present in our drinking water can be extremely dangerous to them.

How do I decorate an Ornate pacman frog terrarium?

Due to their large bodies and burrowing nature, Ornate pacman frogs can be quite destructive to their decor, they, therefore, do best with slightly more minimal enclosures, but covered areas are still essential to provide safe spaces and escapes from the heat and UVB. Cover can be provided with traditional reptile cave or cork bark flats and half rounds. You can also provide cover using artificial plants or live plants, but if opting for live plants, only choose hardy examples to be planted in the substrate layer.

What do Ornate pacman frogs eat?

Like all Pacman frogs, Ornate pacmans have a voracious appetite and are obligate carnivores so should be fed a diet primarily made up of livefood. You should take extra care with the amount fed to this species, as they will continue to eat for as long as you continue to feed them, and will eat almost anything, even if it is not a healthy option. Due to this, they often become obese and can develop related health issues, so this should be monitored closely.

Ornate pacman frogs will eat almost anything, so you can have a lot of fun and provide lots of variety to their diet. The most nutritious staple options are live Giant Lob Worms and live Dubia Cockroaches, although live Crickets and live Locusts also make suitable staples. Other feeders such as live Mealworms, live Fruit Beetle Grubs and live Waxworms can also be offered, along with reptile frozen food, but these should be kept for occasional feedings or treats.

All livefood offered to Ornate pacman frogs should be supplemented according to a strict regime to ensure they get all the nutrients required from their diet. At Swell Reptiles, we recommend using a calcium-rich multivitamin on every feed, such as Arcadia EarthPro-A, a calcium plus magnesium supplement on every fourth feed, such as Arcadia CalciumPro Mg and finally, a vitamin D3 supplement on every eighth feed such as Arcadia EarthPro RevitaliseD3 and finally, a vitamin a reptile supplement on every 12th feed, which is particularly important for most amphibians.

Can I handle my Ornate pacman frog?

For the same reason their water must be treated to remove harmful contaminants, Ornate pacman frogs should not be handled unless this cannot be avoided. Salts, oils and other substances present on our skin can cause them irritation and discomfort, so if you do need to handle your frog it is important to do this with clean, damp hands to reduce discomfort as much as possible.

How do I buy an Ornate pacman frog?

Ornate pacman frogs are very regularly for sale at Swell Reptiles due to their popularity, but we cannot ship livestock so they are for in-store collection only. If you are thinking of adopting one of our Ornate pacman frogs, please feel free to come in and see us.

We will ask you a few quick questions and also ask to see some images of your set-up with the required temperature and humidity requirements and adequate UV lighting. We reserve the right to refuse adoption to anyone we feel is unprepared to adopt.

For more detailed Ornate pacman frog husbandry information, please see our Pacman Frog Care Sheet.

Common names Ornate pacman frog, Ornate horned frog
Scientific name Ceratophrys ornata
Country South America
Captive-bred Yes
Adult size 13-15cm (5-6”) with females being larger
Natural habitat Mossy forest floors
Housing 60 x 45 x 30cm (24 x 18 x 12”)
Ideal temperature 28°C (82°F) (warm end); 22°C (71°F) (cool end)
UVI 1-2
Ideal humidity 60-80%
Diet Carnivorous
Average lifespan 5-6 years
Personality Mostly docile but highly responsive to movement
Ease of handling Handling should be avoided
Cohabitable No
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