Tyrannosaurus Pets

Argentinean Horned Frog Care Sheet



The horned frogs are large terrestrial amphibians from South America.  Their attractive markings help them to blend in with the green and brown leaf litter where they lay in wait for their prey.  They are also called pac-man frogs as they are basically a mouth with legs.


Housing



These large inactive frogs do not need a tall tank.  A 60L aquarium with a strong lid or a large plastic tank such as the Exo-Terra large flat faunarium both make good tanks for these species.  They can be housed in either a simple almost sterile manner or in a more naturalistic way with plenty of hides and other décor.


The sterile approach is to simply flood the base of the tank with spring water.  No other décor is used.  As the water becomes fouled replace it with fresh.  This is the easiest way to maintain your frog, but it does not look particularly attractive.


In a naturalistic set up the tank is decorated to look like part of the jungle floor.  A peat substrate like lucky reptile jungle bedding, or an expanding coir block like eco earth both make good base substrates.  A section of moss and some cork bark or other hides provides some cover for the frog.  A few dry leaves can be added to complete the jungle floor effect.  A large shallow water dish should then be added to the cool end of the tank. It is best to use bottled mineral water for your frogs dish or tank, and in the spray gun that you use to mist the enclosure.


Tap water contains chlorine and other chemicals that may cause health problems for your frog.  If you need to use tap water a dechlorinator developed for amphibians can be added to the water to make it safe.  If this is also unavailable then leaving a jug or bucket of water over night will get rid of some of the chemicals.  Do not leave tap water in a sealed bottle as this won’t allow the release of the chlorine.


Heating


The simplest way to heat the tank is to use a small heat mat placed under one end of the tank.  The temperature will need to be controlled by a suitable thermostat, and monitored with a thermometer. The frogs need a warm end heated to about 28’c the simplest way to achieve this is to use an under tank heat mat.  Place the heat mat under the tank, and plug it into the thermostat.  The sensor from the thermostat needs to be attached to the heat mat.  The easiest way to do this is to use a good quality tape and stick the sensor to the black part of the heat mat.  Put the thermometer inside the tank on the floor directly above the heat mat.  Heat mats don’t radiate heat into the tank and will only warm the floor so the thermometer must be put here to accurately measure the temperature.  Set the thermostat to about 30’c. This is slightly higher than we want but some heat will be lost through the base of the tank. Leave the heater running for about an hour and then check the temperature.  If the thermometer is reading about 28’c, leave the tank for another hour and check again.  If the second reading is still correct then the tank is set up.  If the tank is too warm or too cool then adjust the thermostat slightly leave for an hour and check, keep adjusting and checking until the temperature is stable at the desired level.


Feeding


Horned frogs are voracious predators and will eat anything that they can over power. Some people recommend feeding them on defrosted frozen mice, however they are not used to the high level of fat in this food which can cause cataracts and other health problems.  A more natural and healthy diet consists of a variety of invertebrate prey such as crickets, locusts, meal worms, and earth worms.In order to develop into a strong healthy animal the food for your frog should be dusted with vitamin and mineral powder.  A young frog should be offered food every day.  As the frog grows it will need to eat less frequently.  At about six months of age drop down to feeding five times per week.  Every three months after that drop off another day until the frog is eating two or three times per week.  We would recommend using a full spectrum multi vitamin such as Nutrobal, and a pure calcium supplement.  Put a few prey items into a jug or clear plastic bag and add a pinch of powder.  Shake it around to coat the food and then give these to the frog.  If it eats all the food you can offer another couple of food items.  Any extra food doesn’t need to be powdered.  The supplements should be used in the following ratio.



  • On day 1 dust with multi vitamin

  • On day 2 dust with calcium

  • On day 3 dust with calcium

  • On day 4 offer food with no supplementation


 


Handling


 Most amphibians have a very delicate skin which can be permeable to any chemicals on your hands.  Because of this we do not recommend handling any amphibian. When you need to move a frog such as when its time to clean the tank you can wear a pair of rubber or latex gloves that you only use for your frog.  If gloves are not available run your hands under a tap and using wet hands you can gently pick the frog up to move it.  Unlike many other amphibians horned frogs are also quite happy to bite you! So caution is advised when you are dealing with these species.


Cleaning


 If you are using a natural set up then change the frog’s water every day, and check around the tank at the same time to remove any obvious mess.  If the spot cleaning is done regularly then you will only need to clean the tank out fully once a month.  If you are using the simple style then clean the tank and replace the water as soon as you can see any mess in it. When cleaning the tank, do not use any household detergents or disinfectants as any residue could be harmful to the frogs.

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