Pacman Frog Care Sheet and Facts

Pacman frogs are one of the most appealing varieties of pet frogs (and amphibians in general). They thrive in smaller enclosures, are easy feeders, and come in a wide variety of beautiful colors.

Though not suitable for frequent handling, they are nonetheless a pleasure to watch. Two of their trademark behaviors, burrowing and feeding, provide ample amusement for owners and other onlookers.

While pacman frogs are easy to care for, their enclosure requirements make them more suitable for owners with intermediate experience. However, those willing to pay close attention to enclosure and feeding requirements will find them a suitable beginner amphibian.

Common Name:Pacman frog (among others)
Scientific Name:Ceratophrys ornata
Natural Habitat:South America
Adult Size:Males: Up to 4 inches Females: Up to 7 inches
Lifespan:10 – 15 Years (Captive)
Diet:Insects, amphibians, reptiles, rodents
Experience Level:Intermediate
Enclosure Size:10+ Gallons

Reptile Overview

Pacman frogs have become increasingly popular due to their relatively easy care requirements, fun behaviors, and range of beautiful colors. For anyone interested in frogs or a good beginner amphibian, pacman frogs are the go-to pets.

Colors range from the most common greens and browns to rarer blues and purples. Females are typically bigger than males, though both genders have a similar lifespan of anywhere from 10 to 15 years in captivity.

These frogs are docile, but do not enjoy interactions (with other frogs or humans). Therefore, handling is not recommended except when absolutely necessary.

Pacman frogs require an enclosure that is at least 10 gallons. Within this enclosure, there should be at least three inches of substrate (minimum), a shallow water dish, and at least one hiding place.

Temperatures should range from 78 – 85 degrees and humidity should be kept between 50% – 80%. Under-tank heaters are recommended, but heat lamps are also suitable.


Pacman frogs come in a variety of color and pattern variations, which is one of the reasons they have so many common names (more on that below). Some of the more general common names include the horned frog, ornate Pacman frog, and ornate horned frog.

The most common color patterns are green or brown with darker brown spots. They typically have cream underbellies and darker eyes. Yellow or dark orange highlights are possible.

These frogs are known for being very squat; they are short in stature but tend to be very wide. Essentially, they are the frog version of a pancake (some can weight up to one pound).

They have lower-set eyes on either side of their head. Depending on the specific breeding, they may have small horns or protrusions on their head.

Arguably the most defining feature of the pacman frog is its mouth. It has an extremely large mouth that opens very wide to fit in any and all prey, even prey that is nearly its own size.

Below is a list of other color and pattern variations (called morphs) that have become popular with owners:

  • Strawberry Pacman Frog – These frogs are a bold red or orange color, with a cream-colored underbelly and lighter yellow lining. A separate variation are frogs that are bright yellow with orange spots and a white belly.
  • Albino Pacman Frog – These frogs are a light yellow with pink spots and pink or red eyes. Their bellies may be cream or a lighter shade of yellow.
    • Tip: Look at the eyes to tell the difference between a yellow variation of a strawberry Pacman frog and an albino. Only albino Pacman frogs will have pink or red eyes.
  • Fantasy Pacman Frog – These are not true Pacman frogs, but are instead a cross between Chacoan horned frogs (also known as Cranwell’s horned frogs, Ceratophrys cranwelli) and Surinam horned frogs (also known as Amazonian horned frogs, Ceratophrys cornuta). They vary in color but are typically light brown with dark brown veining and light green or cream highlights.
  • Green Pacman Frog – As the name implies, these frogs are a light or dark green. They have dark brown spots, a white underbelly, and may have some yellow highlights.
  • Blue Pacman Frog – These frogs are not truly blue, but are instead a light teal color that borders on a bluish-green. They have brown spots, a white underbelly, and may have light green highlights.
  • Blue Samurai Pacman Frog – The samurai variation of the blue Pacman frogs shares its coloring, although the colors are more vibrant. However, this coloration may change as the frog ages, either losing its vibrancy or shifting toward green tones.
  • Purple Pacman Frog – This mutant variation of the chocolate Pacman frog varies in color, from a darker brown to a plum color. It typically has dark brown spots with black lining and a darker underbelly.
  • Pikachu Pacman Frog – These frogs are almost entirely yellow with cream underbellies. They typically have very few spots, which are a light orange in color.

Not all of these morphs and variations are available in stores. You may have to buy from a breeder if you want a specific morph, such as in the list above.

Price & Availability

Pacman frogs vary in price from as little as $20 to more than $100. These prices can increase depending on gender, size, age, and morph.

Rarer morphs, such as the blue samurai Pacman, purple Pacman, and Pikachu Pacman, are more expensive. Further variations within the morph (example: a super Pikachu Pacman) are even pricier.

Due to their popularity, captive-bred Pacman frogs are available in most pet stores, especially those specializing in reptiles and amphibians. Though wild-caught frogs are still available, these should be avoided.

Wild-caught Pacman frogs are more susceptible to diseases and premature death due to stress from transportation. This process also disrupts natural habitats and can upset fragile ecosystems.

Behavior & Temperament

Pacman frogs are generally docile, but they still have wild instincts. This means that they will lunge and bite at prey (when they’re hungry) or predators (when they’re threatened).

While it is unlikely your pacman frog can actually hurt you, striking and biting is an unpleasant experience for everyone. As such, do not feed using your bare hands and handle with caution.

Pacman frog teeth are located along the upper jaw, with the purpose of subduing and holding prey until your frog swallows it. Despite this, a pacman frog bite can draw blood if they latch on hard enough.

But do not be too alarmed: pacman frogs are not poisonous. And though they can draw blood, it is unlikely; your frog will not inflict serious damage.

While these dogs are not aggressive, they do not like handling. Instead, it is best to admire your rotund pet from afar.

Of course, there are times when handling is necessary, such as for medical treatment or enclosure moves. During these time, keep handling to a minimum and try to complete the tasks quickly.

Keep in mind, frogs absorb water and other substances through their skin. Because of this, make sure your hands are free from lotions or perfumes prior to handling.

Ceratophrys cranwelli handling

Pacman frogs are not very active. Instead, it is much more likely to see them resting or burrowing. (When they are not eating, of course.) It is completely normal for your pacman frog to burrow so deeply that you can only see their eyes (and horns, depending on the morph).

Despite not being active, they can be quite vocal. You may hear your pacman frog screaming, chirping, or grunting.

They may make these sounds when eating, bathing, mating, and sometimes just because. They may also scream when trying to thwart would-be threats.


In captivity, pacman frogs can live as long as 10 to 15 years. This is greatly extended from the expected lifespan of a pacman frog in the wild, which is roughly five years.

Proper husbandry is the key component to helping your pacman live a long life. Proper nutrition, correct enclosures, and regular health check-ups will keep your frog happy and healthy.

There is no stark difference in the lifespan of a female pacman frog versus a male. Both females and males can live for more than a decade in the right conditions.


Pacman frogs need at least a 10-gallon tank. However, like most amphibians, they always appreciate more room. Other common enclosure sizes are 15- and 20-gallon tanks.

Exo Terra Glass Terrarium Tank - 24 x 18 x 18 Inches

Exo Terra Glass Terrarium Tank – 24 x 18 x 18 Inches

These frogs are not escape artists, so minimal tank security is fine. A simple locking mechanism on the lid or doors should be fine.

Pacman frogs should be kept by themselves. They are solitary frogs.

Despite being a frog, pacman frogs are actually poor swimmers. Because of this, enclosures should not have deep or large areas of water.

Instead, focus on creating a humid environment with deep substrate and lots of leaf litter. Substrate should be at least three inches deep.

Moss, rocks, and plants (live or artificial) also spruce up the tank and provide enrichment. Housing elements, such as logs, are also appreciated.

You can add a water dish, since pacman frogs do need to drink and enjoy sitting in the water. However, the water dish should be shallow so that there is no risk of drowning.

If you add a water dish, keep it in a warmer area of the tank to prevent health issues. Your pacman frog will also feel more secure while bathing if there is cover, such as from plants.

If you have ever wanted to try out a bioactive enclosure, a pacman frog would be a good contender. Their enclosures are fairly simple, so they are more suited to bioactive beginners.

Temperature & Lighting

Pacman frogs appreciate temperature and lighting cycles.

Temperatures should range from roughly 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day to no lower than 78 degrees Fahrenheit at night. You can use heat lamps or under-tank heaters to maintain these temperatures.

If you use heat lamps, make sure they are not close enough to burn your pacman frogs. Additionally, keep an eye on your frog’s skin: some owners report that heat lamps dry out their frogs.

VIVOSUN Reptile Heat Mat with Digital Thermostat

VIVOSUN Reptile Heat Mat with Digital Thermostat

Lights should run on a basic 12-hour cycle (12 hours for day, 12 hours for night). Digital timers can help preserve this cycle with minimal effort from owners.

Lights can be separate from heating elements or integrated (i.e., day heat bulbs and night heat bulbs). Either fluorescent or UV lighting is fine.

If your pacman frog is inactive a lot and seems shy all the time (including being silent), consider scaling back direct lights. Some pacman frogs prefer more subtle lighting, such as from regular overhead room lights.

For bioactive enclosures or enclosures with live plants, you will likely need to add a specific growth light. If you use these, check to see if they emit heat; if so, adjust your other heating elements as necessary.


Pacman frogs need humidity between 50% and 80%.

A constant water source and regular misting can help maintain these humidity levels. A glass or acrylic tank lid (as opposed to a mesh screen lid) also helps to preserve humidity levels.

REPTI ZOO Reptile Mister

REPTI ZOO Reptile Mister

For additional security, you can try adding moss (live or preserved). Moss tends to hold water longer, helping boost humidity levels as it evaporates.

Automatic misting systems can ensure humidity levels stay within this range for owners who have busy or unpredictable schedules. However, make sure the water for these systems is no cooler than room temperature.

Live plants are also an option for those who want more stable humidity levels. Owners with misting systems will find it beneficial for keeping plants healthy, as well.


Pacman frogs have a healthy appetite and should be ready to eat at nearly any time. Common food sources are crickets, roaches, mealworms, wax worms, small fish, and small mice or rats.

Typically, young or small pacman frogs prefer insects. As your frog grows, you can transition them to small fish, such as guppies, and either pinkie (i.e., newborn) mice or rat pups.

Other potential food sources include lizards and even other frogs. However, make sure the prey is not large enough to damage your pacman frog (prey should be smaller than your frog).

With insects, daily feedings are necessary. As you move to bigger prey, space feedings out to once or twice per week.

All insects should be gut-loaded prior to feeding. Other food should be sourced from reputable pet stores, to ensure prey is not diseased.

For extra dietary protection, dust your pacman’s food with a vitamin or mineral supplement.

Zoo Med Calcium With Vitamin D3 Reptile Food

Zoo Med Calcium With Vitamin D3 Reptile Food

When feeding, use tongs with rubber tips. This way, if your frog strikes before you release the food, the rubber will prevent your pacman from being harmed.

Pacman frogs eat by shooting out their tongues to ensnare prey. Researchers in Germany found that these frogs typically have an adhesive strength of 1.5 times the frog’s body weight. (Although some frogs had tongues up to 3.4 times their body weight!)

Pacman frogs can sometimes be slow to strike, but will eventually eat anything that is moving in their enclosure. They are patient predators, and will wait in their burrow until prey is close by.

The exception to this is when your pacman frog is stressed. Refrain from feeding them after enclosure moves or alterations for 12 hours.

Your pacman may also refuse food if you allow them to enter into brumation, which is the amphibian version of hibernation. This is triggered by a cooler and drier environment.

If this happens, your pacman frog may also form a tough outer skin (similar to a shell) to prevent itself from drying out. Do not worry; simply rehydrate your frog and they will shed this tough skin.

Keep an eye on your pacman frog’s weight. They should be round, but not so fat as to cause excess wrinkles or mobility issues.

If you are worried about your frog’s weight, cut back on the amount of food or number of weekly feedings. If this does not resolve the weight issues, consult your veterinarian.

Potential Health Issues

Amphibians are prone to skin and eye bacterial and fungal infections. Redness, swelling, and pus are three signs of these health issues.

Other potential health issues include parasitic infections, respiratory issues, and ammonia poisoning. The latter two are related to your frog’s enclosure.

Improper humidity and temperatures (such as high humidity and cold temperatures) cause respiratory issues. Common symptoms are wheezing, lethargy, and drooling.

Improper cleaning causes ammonia poisoning, which results from a buildup of urine or feces in the water or substrate. Common symptoms are hyperactivity followed by lethargy, spastic leg extensions, and cloudy eyes.

If you suspect ammonia poisoning, immediately replace the water and substrate. Additionally, give your frog a ‘bath’ in fresh water twice per day in a separate container or dish. Continue until your vet clears your frog or until you see improvement.

You should immediately consult your veterinarian if you suspect your pacman frog has a health issue. Your veterinarian should be experienced with amphibians, including frogs.


Pacman frogs are do not have a difficult breeding process, although it can be time-consuming.

Somewhat obviously, the first step is to ensure you have both a male and female. Males are typically smaller and will also likely be more vocal.

Following this, you will need to prep your pacman frogs by triggering brumation. Create a cooler and more dry enclosure by stopping misting and dropping the temperatures to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add a thick layer of sphagnum moss, which your pacman frog will burrow under. Also ensure the water dish is kept fresh and readily accessible, just in case.

Galápagos Terrarium Sphagnum Moss

Galápagos Terrarium Sphagnum Moss

It is likely your frogs will not eat during this period; this is normal.

Maintain the ‘dry season’ for at least twos month (i.e., roughly 60 days). Then, you will need to simulate the ‘rainy season.’

Transition your male and female pacman frogs to a tank with a large, but shallow area of water. The water should be shallow enough that your frog’s feet touch the bottom of the tank while the head remains above water. Within the water, add either live or artificial plants.

There should also be an area where your frogs can climb out of the water onto land. On land, ensure there is ample substrate and a hiding place.

Temperature and lighting levels should return to normal (i.e., prior to the brumation period).

Mist your frogs several times each day. A misting system is particularly helpful during this process.

Watch the water level to ensure it does not get too deep. If necessary, add a temporary overflow system to the tank or manually remove water.

Feed your pacman frogs more frequently. They will not breed if they believe food sources are scarce (and your female may eat your male, if she gets really hungry).

You can also play recordings of male pacman mating calls. This should make your male more motivated, in case he seems uninterested in mating.

Female pacman frogs typically lay eggs within one week of the ‘rainy season.’ The eggs will be in the water, likely attached to the plants.

At this point, you can remove your frogs and place them back into their separate enclosures. Add more water to the breeding tank and the eggs should hatch within two or three days.

Pacman frog tadpoles are carnivorous and will cannibalize each other if they are not given ample space and food. Live tubifex worms work well as a feeding method and should be distributed along the bottom of the breeding tank.

small pacman frog on hand

Even so, it is likely some of the tadpoles will eat each other. The only guaranteed way to prevent this is to separate each tadpole into their own enclosure (such as a mason jar).

If you do this, make sure to change the water daily. Each tadpole should also still have access to some sort of vegetation (live or artificial) to hide in.

Pacman tadpoles will complete their transformation into frogs within one month. At this point, they should be separated into their own enclosures, if you have not already done so.


Pacman frogs allegedly get their common name from the popular Nintendo game Pacman. Similar to the animated dot-eating main character, these frogs are round and have a large mouth.

And just like this game, pacman frogs are quickly becoming beloved as one of the most popular pet amphibians. They have specific enclosure requirements, but are otherwise easy to care for.

Though females grow larger than males, both can provide you with years of joy. So if you enjoy animals with a penchant for burrowing, patient stalking techniques, and opera aspirations, then the pacman frog is the pet for you!

Check also other frogs: