Frogs make great pets as long as they are kept in the appropriate conditions and fed the right diet. So you need to know what is the right food for frogs and what they eat.
Feeding your frog the wrong food such as insects caught in your garden can be detrimental to their health.
You will also need to understand which supplements they require and how you can introduce these into your frog’s diet.
Not overfeeding your frog is just as important as providing them with the correct nutrients, so we will look at how much to feed your frog and when.
We’ll consider the nutritional needs of different species, sizes and ages of frogs including their activity levels.
Frogs In The Wild
There are more than 5,000 known species of frog in the world and over 90 of them are found in the US.
Unfortunately they are one of the most threatened species on the planet with populations declining rapidly due to loss of habitat, pollution and disease.
Knowing what frogs in the wild eat can help us to protect them. Not using pesticides and other chemicals in our yards is a good start.
Not only does it kill the frog’s food supply, but they absorb substances through their skin, so we are harming them directly too.
In the wild, frogs eat a wide variety of bugs. They are not particularly fussy eaters and are considered generalist and often opportunistic predators eating anything that moves in their vicinity.
Frogs will eat spiders, earthworms, moths, grasshoppers or anything else that will fit in their mouth.
They are mostly nocturnal hunters as they rely on the cover of darkness to keep them hidden from predators.
Aquatic frogs will also eat a range of water invertebrates such as tadpoles, mosquito larvae, and redworms. They will also eat minnows, water bugs and even other frogs.
It is a common misconception that frogs are insectivores, but this is not the case. They do not exclusively eat insects, so they are in fact carnivores.
Some larger frogs such as the Pacman frog will eat mice and others are known to eat small birds.
Frogs In Captivity
Keeping frogs as pets is a fascinating and educational activity for adults and children.
There are many species that can be kept in captivity including Dwarf Clawed Frogs, White’s Tree Frog, American Green Tree Frogs and Pacman Frogs.
Some of these are completely aquatic frogs such as the Dwarf Clawed Frogs and are very easy to keep.
Others are small such as the White’s Tree Frog but are quite sedentary, so many people may find them uninteresting.
The Pacman Frog is a large and mostly terrestrial frog. They are easy to care for but again quite inactive. For a more active pet a Fire Bellied Toad is semi-terrestrial and are relatively easy to keep as pets.
Feeding frogs in captivity will depend on which type of frog you have. Smaller frogs will typically eat a variety of insects.
Crickets form the largest part of a pet frog’s diet as they are one of the easiest foods to buy and also to raise yourself.
Crickets and other insects used as frog food should be gut loaded prior to feeding them to your captive frogs.
Gut loading simply means providing the crickets with a nutritious diet before feeding them to your frog. This allows the nutrients to pass on to the frog.
Waxworms and mealworms are another easily sourced food for your pet frog, and they can be purchased from most bait stores.
These won’t be gut loaded, however. You can also feed your frog locusts, grasshoppers, caterpillars, worms, brine shrimp and for larger frogs, mice.
How Do Frogs Hunt & Eat?
There are two hunting strategies that frogs use. In the wild, a frog will typically remain motionless in one spot and wait for prey to pass close by them then they react.
The frog flips out its tongue, which is coated in a sticky saliva and grabs the insect. They then retract their tongue and swallow the prey.
Most species of frog have teeth only in the upper part of their mouth so don’t often chew their food but rather swallow it whole.
However, not all frogs have long, sticky tongues despite common belief. Some frogs rely on catching their food with their front feet. The prey is then quickly stuffed into their mouth before it can work its way free.
As most frogs do actually have sticky tongues it is worth looking in more detail at how exactly this works for capturing prey.
Studies have shown that frog saliva is a non-Newtonian fluid, nothing to do with newts but with the properties of the saliva.
A non-Newtonian fluid doesn’t follow Newton’s law of viscosity, which is constant viscosity independent of stress.
Instead, under close research frog saliva changes properties as it encounters the insect it’s ensnaring.
When the frog’s tongue hits the prey, the force triggers the saliva to change from a thick, honey type consistency to a more liquid state.
This watery saliva quickly spreads around the insect into all its crevices and traps it. Just as quickly the saliva returns to its thicker consistency and the frog retracts its tongue, consuming its prey.
How To Feed Frogs In Captivity
In captivity frogs rely on their owners to provide them with the food and nutrition they need to grow and thrive.
For this they need a varied diet of high quality food and some supplements too. With a complete diet a frog in captivity can live a long and healthy life.
Nutrition For Frogs
As we’ve seen feeding your frogs gut loaded insects can help to keep them supplied with the nutrients they need.
When you buy crickets from the pet store chances are they will not be gut loaded and so will not have the correct vitamin and calcium content to give your frog a balanced diet. For this reason it is better to raise your own.
Gut Loading Crickets
To gut load your crickets you need to fast them and then feed them a diet of vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes as well as some fruit such as oranges and apples.
Offer the food to them between 6 and 72 hours before feeding them to your frog. This increases the nutritional content of the insects and these nutrients that the crickets absorb will benefit your frog.
You can also complement your gut loaded crickets by dusting them with some vitamin and mineral supplements specifically for frogs.
A calcium and Vitamin D3 supplement is also advisable to keep your frog’s bones healthy and strong.
These supplements can be purchased from reputable sources online or specialist stores.
Sprinkle the supplement powder over the feeder crickets and shake the container lightly to coat them completely. Then feed them immediately to your frog.
Keep the supplements according to the instructions on the packaging and don’t use them beyond the expiration date.
How Much Food Do Frogs Need & How Often?
The amount of food that you give to your frogs will depend on their species, size, age and activity level.
Smaller more active frogs will need to be fed more often while larger more sedentary frogs will not need to be fed as frequently.
Frogs can become overweight if they are fed too much and this is just as unhealthy for them as being underfed.
You will also need to size the food for your frog. This means matching the size of the food to the size of your frog.
If you attempt to give frogs an insect that is larger than the width of their mouth they will either try to eat it and possibly choke or they will refuse to eat it and go hungry.
So always remember to feed your frog the appropriately sized food.
High Energy Frogs & Froglets
Dwarf frogs and froglets under 16 weeks of age will need frequent access to food. This means you should be feeding them every day or even twice a day as long as the portion sizes are appropriate.
Adding some additional fruit and vegetables to the tank for the insects to eat will provide the frogs with an increased and nutritionally enriched food supply.
Medium Energy Frogs
Feeding medium energy frogs such as the Fire Bellied Toad every two to three days is usually adequate for adults. Younger toads will need to be fed every day.
A good indicator of how much to feed your medium energy frog is to note how many crickets they will eat in 15 seconds.
If there are any insects left over after this amount of time remove them from the tank.
This calculation will ensure that your frog is getting enough food without leaving insects in the tank. Remember your frog can get overweight if they have access to more food than they need.
Large frogs such as the Pacman and the confusingly named Pixie Frog can grow to quite a size. However, both of these frogs are quite sedentary and as such don’t need to be fed that often.
These frogs can be fed young mice commonly known as pinky or fuzzy mice once a week, although their diet should not consist solely of mice as this can lead to nutritional problems and obesity.
Do Frogs Drink?
All frogs in captivity must have access to de-chlorinated and clean water. A de-chlorinator can be purchased online or in most reputable pet stores.
Frogs do not drink through their mouths, instead they absorb water and moisture through their skin. For this reason, you should provide a container that they can sit in and also mist the tank regularly.
This maintains a healthy humidity in the tank which is necessary for their health.
What Do Young Frogs Eat?
Young frogs or froglets will eat just about the same diet as adult frogs, although they do go through stages as they grow.
While adult frogs are carnivores and almost exclusively eat live prey, tadpoles will feed on mostly plants as they are growing but will on occasion feed on dead insects and animal matter.
Froglets will eat things like gnats, fruit flies, mosquitoes and ants. Basically they are eating foods that are appropriate for their size.
As with all growing things a young frog has a high metabolism and in order to supply themselves with the necessary energy froglets will feed multiple times a day.
As a frog grows its tastes will change, and it will start to eat live insects, spiders, mollusks, and even rodents.
When you are raising young frogs you will probably feed them pinhead crickets and wingless fruit flies, these are small enough for the froglets to eat and readily available in pet stores.
Wingless fruit flies are also easy to cultivate yourself. Pinhead crickets are just 1-3 day old crickets but are a perfect size for young frogs around the same as the fruit flies.
Pinhead crickets can be a bit trickier to find in pet stores as it takes longer to produce them. They are also only the right size for young frogs for a very short time.
Once your froglet is big enough you can introduce them to food like bloodworms, brine shrimp, and redworms.
How To Raise Tadpoles
If you have a tank with frogs you may at some point want to raise tadpoles. Tadpoles are the larval stage of frogs and toads (Also check out Most Weird Frogs And Toads).
They are very small, consisting mostly of a head and a tail. In the wild they spend most of their time feeding on algae or other plants.
Caring For Tadpoles
As tadpoles require water to survive you need to provide clean, de-chlorinated water. You can buy substances that will remove the chlorine from the water as you would for a normal aquarium.
Rather than trying to raise your tadpoles in an aquarium however, it is better to use a large flat shallow container.
You only need two or three inches of water. For every gallon of water keep two tadpoles, so you don’t end up overcrowding the container.
Later on you can introduce a medium sized rock for the tadpoles to use as they transition into froglets.
Any infertile eggs will begin to break down, so it is a good idea to remove them from the container, or they will contaminate the water.
You will need to feed your tadpoles twice a day. For each one, put approximately one tablespoon of boiled spinach or lettuce into the container.
Tadpoles typically eat algae, but this may be difficult to get hold of.
Some species of tadpole such as the Pacman frog tadpoles will eat bloodworms as soon as they are swimming.
If you can find some rabbit pellets, two of these per tadpole can be added as a supplement. You will have to crush the pellets first.
You can also add some pieces of hard boiled egg as a source of protein. Allow an hour for the tadpoles to eat and then clean the container.
When the tadpoles start to develop legs they will stop eating. Instead they reabsorb their tail and utilize this as a food source. This is when the tail begins to shrink.
Tadpoles To Frogs
The transformation of tadpoles to frogs is a remarkable one to observe. You will first see the back legs appear and then the front legs begin to grow. Slowly they will lose their tail as it is reabsorbed by the tadpole.
As they continue to grow they transfer their breathing from gills to lungs.
This is when they will need access to a rock, so they can climb out of the water and not drown. Their diet will also change from eating plants to eating live insects.
The metamorphosis of tadpoles into frogs can take between 12-16 weeks depending on which species of frog you are raising, as well as the temperature and food supply.
What Do Toads Eat?
You may wonder why we’re including toads in a guide to what frogs eat. But did you know that all toads are frogs but not all frogs are toads? Confused? Let us explain.
There is no actual scientific differentiation between the two. This can cause a lot of confusion, as you may appreciate.
The term toad is typically used to refer to any frogs within the Bufonidae family.
Toads have more leathery, drier skin than frogs and shorter back legs. They also spend more time on land, but what do they eat?
Well, in the wild like frogs, toads will eat just about anything that crosses their path and will fit in their mouth.
Although their diet does depend on their environment they will eat insects, worms, slugs and spiders. Larger toads will eat mice and small grass snakes.
In captivity, toads will eat mostly arthropods and insects such as crickets, mealworms and grasshoppers. You can also give your toad moths, ants and flies.
These should be sourced from specialist suppliers and not taken from the wild where they are exposed to pesticides and parasites.
Like frogs, toads will only eat live prey, so any insects fed to them should be alive.
You can also supplement their food with vitamin and mineral powder, calcium is an important addition to a pet toad’s diet.
As with frogs, monitor a toad’s eating habits and keep an eye on their weight. Remove any uneaten insects from their tank.
What Foods Can Frogs Not Eat?
While we have focused on what food frogs eat it is worth mentioning that there are things that you should not give to your frog.
You should never offer any kind of human food to frogs as this can lead to all sorts of nutritional diseases for them. If you are unsure what to feed your frogs speak to a veterinarian with amphibian experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Best Food For A Frog?
The best food for pet frogs are gut loaded crickets, mealworms, waxworms, grasshoppers and locusts.
For larger frogs such as the Pacman or African Bullfrog young mice are a good occasional treat but not to be used as a sole food. Supplements should be given to all captive frogs.
How Long Can Frogs Go Without Food?
Adult frogs can go 3 or 4 weeks without food as long as their tank is clean. However, long term survival and good health rely on feeding 2 to 3 times per week with 10-12 full grown crickets.
Can Frogs Eat Lettuce?
Yes, frogs can eat lettuce and even tadpoles can be fed lettuce as part of their food.
In fact many people who are raising tadpoles to adults will feed them mainly lettuce until they become carnivorous and start to eat insects.
How Long Does A Frog Live?
How long a frog will live in captivity depends on many factors, the species of frog, their environment and their diet.
If you provide the optimum habitat for your frog along with the right nutrition your frog may live between 10-16 years.
White’s tree frogs have great longevity and typically live to beyond 15 or 16 years. The oldest known specimen lived for 21 years.
Should You Keep A Wild Frog As A Pet?
Wild animals fare better in their natural habitats and should not be domesticated or taken from their environment.
Most wild animals will react badly to being kept in captivity and may not eat. They can also carry diseases which you could introduce to other animals in your home.
What Do Pet Frogs Need To Survive?
There are so many species of frog that can be kept as pets and the individual needs of each type of frog should be met as closely as possible to ensure survival.
The most appropriate housing and food are vital as are any additional supplements.
Frogs need access to clean, de-chlorinated water and should be handled as little as possible due to their delicate skin.
Frogs can be an incredibly rewarding pet to keep as long as their needs are met.
Some frogs can live a long time, so a real commitment is needed from those who choose to keep captive frogs. As is a real understanding of their care and needs.
Although they do not require, and shouldn’t have, too much handling it is important to keep their tank clean and monitor their weight and health.
We hope you have enjoyed our guide to food for frogs and what they eat and that it has answered your questions on this subject.