Pacman frog, Ceratophrys cranwelli

Pacman frogs, the cute, bottomless pits of the amphibian world

At a glance...
  • Pacman frogs make a great first amphibian
  • Large bodied frogs with huge appetites
  • Beautiful markings with several morphs available
Collection only
Price Match
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Do Pacman frogs make good pets?

Pacman frogs, also known as Horned frogs are terrestrial sit and wait predators indigenous to the South American rainforests. Due to their hunting technique, Pacman frogs don’t tend to move around very much, and prefer to move between a few chosen spots where they will burrow most of their body into the soil and simply wait for their prey to crawl past. This species has a voracious appetite and should not be kept with other individuals, as they will fight and could injure or even kill one another.

Often Pacman frogs may completely bury themselves for a while, but this should not be cause for concern, a buried Pacman is usually a happy Pacman. All of the Pacman frogs at Swell Reptiles are captive bred in the UK, reducing the environmental impact and the risk of parasitism.

What type of enclosure does my Pacman frog need?

Pacman frogs have moderate-high humidity requirements, so are best kept in glass terrariums rather than wooden vivariums which are likely to warp when exposed to consistent moisture. Despite the fact that they do not move around very much, Pacmans are large frogs and will still move around between spots, particularly when one spot has been soiled. Therefore, we recommend a minimum adult enclosure size of 60 x 45 x 30cm (24 x 18 x 12in), such as the Exo Terra Glass Terrarium 60x45x30cm.

Do Pacman frogs need to be heated?

Pacman frogs are ectotherms, so they cannot control their own body temperature and as such rely on external heat sources. To mimic their natural environment, they do best with a hot-spot temperature of 28°C (82°F), with cooler areas dropping to around 22°C (71°F). This is achieved most easily using an overhead heating system such as a heat bulb or ceramic heat emitter, although these can be quite drying so additional measures often need to be taken to keep the humidity up. Due to this, some people prefer to use a heat mat stuck up the side or back of the terrarium, but these do not generally work as well to increase the ambient temperature any further than a few cm away from the mat itself.

All heating equipment must be hooked up to a compatible thermostat to ensure their safety. For a basking lamp, this would be a dimming thermostat, a pulse thermostat for a ceramic heater or a simple on/off thermostat for a heat mat. A thermometer or two is also important, to keep an eye on the temperature and identify any issues with the heating equipment before it becomes a problem.

Do Pacman frogs need UV?

Despite often being kept without the use of UVB lighting, Pacman frogs can benefit significantly from the presence of low-level UVB, within an ideal UVI range of 1-2. Although they spend the majority of their time on the forest floor or buried, they are exposed to UV regularly in nature, and can still utilise this for vitamin D3 synthesis, helping to prevent health issues whilst also creating a more natural environment with a day-night cycle.

At Swell Reptiles we recommend that all Pacman frogs are kept with UVB, even albino morphs, despite albino animals being slightly more sensitive to overexposure, they can still benefit from having a good quality UV light in the same way wild type Pacman frogs can, but extra thought should be given to providing plenty of cover.

The best option for Pacman frog UV in most instances will be the Arcadia ShadeDweller ProT5 Kit, placed 25-40cm (10-15”) above the basking area. If your light will need to be any higher than this (but no higher than 45cm, or 18”) then you will require the Arcadia ProT5 Kit - 6% Forest.

Which substrate is best for a Pacman frog?

Due to their higher humidity requirements and burrowing nature, Pacman frogs should be kept on a deep layer of loose soil-based substrate. This can be plain coco soil, or more complex planting medium such as Arcadia EarthMix or ProRep Bio Life Forest depending on your goals with the enclosure.

Particularly if opting for a bioactive set-up, you may also wish to add a drainage layer of Hydro Rocks with Hydro Matting laid on top before adding the substrate. This will provide an area for any excess water to drain to prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged and causing the plant roots to rot. The drainage layer can also help with humidity, as if the soil dries out above the water will wick up from the drainage layer and back into the substrate.

How can I keep up my Pacman frogs humidity?

Pacman frogs are one of the more tolerant amphibian examples where lower humidity is concerned, however, you should aim not to let this drop below 60%, which isn’t much more than the average room, although maintaining humidity levels around 70-80% is better. When using a decent moisture-retaining substrate with mosses on top, this can usually be achieved by a good spraying or two a day with a handheld spray bottle.

You may also wish to use a fogger or rain system to do all the work for you, many of which have in-built timers so once you find a balance, you can set them and leave them and they will even maintain the humidity whilst you are not home. A large water dish (large enough for the frog to soak) will also help to keep humidity levels up whilst providing your frog with hydration. Any water added into a Pacman frog enclosure should be treated with a water conditioner to remove harmful chlorine and chloramines.

How do I decorate a Pacman frog terrarium?

It is important to provide your Pacman frog with some covered areas, either with a traditional reptile cave or the tactical placement of cork bark pieces, this will give them an escape from the heat and light when they choose whilst also helping them to feel safe and reduce stress. Cover can also be provided with live or artificial plants, but it is worth keeping in mind that these frogs are large and like to burrow, so only very hardy plants will survive when planted in the soil and they should be planted away from highly trafficked areas.

What do Pacman frogs eat?

Pacman frogs are carnivores and like to eat a lot, it is important with this species to regulate the amount of food given to prevent obesity and related health issues. Most Pacman frogs will eat, or try to eat almost anything that moves in their vicinity, and will continue to eat for as long as they are fed.

The key to a good Pacman frog diet is variety, with examples such as live Giant Lob Worms and live Dubia Cockroaches being highly nutritious and making good staple options. Live Crickets and live Locusts can also make good staple options although they are slightly less nutritious. Occasionally, they can also be offered other livefoods such as live Waxworms, live Fruit Beetle Grubs or live Mealworms or even size-appropriate defrosted reptile frozen food.

To ensure that they get all of the required nutrients to remain healthy, any livefood offered to a Pacman frog should be supplemented according to a feeding schedule. We recommend the use of 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 Pacman frog?

Like all amphibians, Pacman frogs have a semi-permeable skin membrane over which they absorb water and its contaminants, which is why their water must be dechlorinated. As human skin often has salt or chemicals present, handling Pacman frogs can cause them discomfort due to these being absorbed over the skin membrane. It is for this reason Pacman frogs should not be handled unless absolutely necessary, and this should only be done with clean, wet hands.

How do I buy a Pacman frog?

We regularly have UK captive bred Pacman frogs for sale at Swell Reptiles, but they must be collected from our superstore. If you would like to adopt one of our Pacman frogs please come in to see us and bring some photos of your enclosure set up with adequate lighting and the required temperature and humidity parameters.

To ensure all livestock sold by us go to the best homes possible, we will ask to see your photos and ask a few short questions to ensure you are ready to adopt. We reserve the right to refuse adoption to anyone we feel is unprepared to adopt.

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

Common names Pacman frog, Horned frog, Cranwell’s Horned Frog
Scientific name Ceratophrys cranwelli
Country South America
Captive-bred Yes
Adult size 8-13cm (3-5”) 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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Help Guides
  1. Pacman frog, Ceratophrys sp., care sheet
    Categories: Care sheetsAmphibians

    Pacman frog, Ceratophrys sp., care sheet

    Pacman frog, Ceratophrys sp., husbandry guide from the experts at Swell Reptiles, covering housing, heating, lighting and more.