African Giant Bullfrog
Erica Mede, CVT
African Giant bullfrogs, also called “pixies” or
“pixies”, are found throughout southern
in sub-Saharan regions. These
areas are extremely dry most of the year which forces the frogs to
aestivate in order to conserve water.
Pyxies tend to live in areas that during the rainy season
flood and retain water.
This is the world’s second largest species of frog with
males reaching up to10 inches in length!
Females generally reach 3.5-5.5 inches long while males
range from 6-10 inches long. Pyxies
generally live 15-25 years with proper care and males have been
known to way up to two pounds.
Powerful limbs and large skulls make these frogs appear
thick and stocky. Both
genders have teeth like projections called odontoids in their
mouth which help them capture prey as they are ambush predators.
Colors range from olive green to dark green with a pale to
cream underbelly. Where
the limbs meet the body there is a bright orange coloration.
Many of these frogs will also have a yellow color along the
sides of the body. Pyxies
have large broad ridges down their backs as well.
African bullfrogs have a strong sense of sight and will eat
anything that fits in their mouths.
Captive adults are frequently fed earth worms, crickets,
super worms, roaches, and mice (feed sparingly).
In the wild, these animals are known to eat other
amphibians and small reptiles.
Bullfrogs are prone to obesity especially those fed large
amounts of rodents. It
is recommended to feed rodents to Pyxies only once every 2 or 3
weeks. Pyxies under
three inches long should be fed daily what they will consume in 15
and adults should be fed 2-3 times a week in the same manner.
Some owners advocate the use of trout and salmon pellets in
place of live prey and have success.
It is not recommended to feed bullfrogs from your hand as
they have a powerful, painful bite.
Placing the food in a dish or on a flat rock is a better
option. Feeding with
forceps is a very popular method as well.
Calcium supplementation should be added to the food weekly
and a multivitamin supplement every 2 weeks.
These frogs should always be housed alone due to their
tendency towards cannibalism.
A 15 gallon aquarium or equivalent sized container such as
a Sterilite or Rubbermaid bin is generally acceptable for both
genders. Large males
can sometimes require a minimum of 20 gallon aquarium whereas
smaller juvenile males and adult females can be kept comfortably
in a 10 gallon aquarium. Many
keepers find that using non-conventional enclosure such as plastic
storage boxes is not only easier to maneuver in their homes but
also less stressful for the animal due to the opaque nature of the
sides. Juveniles under
3 inches can easily be maintained in a 5 gallon aquarium.
Paper towel is by far the easiest to clean and cheapest
substrate to use. However,
it must be changed daily and doesn’t offer any aesthetics.
Top soil it a common substrate providing a naturalistic
look to the enclosure as well as offering the frog a chance to
burrow under leaving only their eyes exposed in some cases.
Soil must be spot cleaned daily and completely changed out
every 2 weeks to prevent bacteria and fungus build-up.
Moistened terry cloth towels are also utilized for
substrate since they can be easily changed out.
However, a few back ups will be needed and the towels must
be washed and dried WITHOUT fabric softener preferably.
The substrate needs to be moistened at all times with
dechlorinated water. Tap
water that has been dechlorinated chemically or “aged” is
perfectly fine. Avoid
distilled water due to the lack of minerals in the water.
Pyxie frogs can be easily maintained in 77-82°F
ambient temperatures. At
night, the temperature can drop as low as 68°F.
Heating the enclosure is easily achieved using under tank
heaters either under the tank or mounted on the side of the tank.
Heat cable, heat tape, and other methods of heating can be
utilized as well. Basking
lights are contraindicated. The
temperature should be maintained with the use of a thermostat and
monitored with a thermometer at the level of the substrate.
Moss is an excellent way to keep frogs moist but care must
be taken that it is changed frequently and is in a place where the
frog will not accidentally ingest it attempting to eat.
Humidity is extremely important to the health of African
humidity in the enclosure should be maintained around 80-90%.
This is easily checked with a hygrometer and maintained
with a hydrostat. Frequent
misting, moistening of the substrate, large water bowls, and
foggers can all be used to maintain higher levels of humidity.
African bullfrogs do not have many lighting requirements.
They require a light cycle of 10 hours of light and 14 of
ultraviolet (UVB) light such as a ReptiGlo or a ReptiSun 2.0 can
be utilized and is recommended.
Water bowls should be deep enough for the frog to submerge
itself if desired. Water
should be changed at least daily and only clean, dechlorinated
water should be used. A
hide box created from things as simple as a half a plastic flower
pot should be offered to provide a secure place for the frog.
Live plants can be easily uprooted by these powerful
diggers and should be potted separately if placed in the
foliage such as silk leaves can be used without problems and pose
the benefit of being easily cleaned.
Sources and Suggested
The Horned Frog Family and the African
Richard Bartlett, Patricia
Ray Hunziker, Raymond
E. Hunziker, R. Hunziker
Quick & Easy Horned Frog Care
Allen R. Both
feel free to call for an appointment at 847-329-8709.
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