Pac Man Frog / Ornate Horned Frog


Ceratophrys ornata


about 6-10 years


6-7 inches (Males are a bit smaller than females)


81 degrees F

If temp falls below 70 degrees F at night, may need supplemental infrared or ceramic heat.




Native to the rainforests Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina of South America.


The frogs get their common name, “Pac Man Frog” from their round, plump shape and large mouths, which make them resemble the video game character. Their large eyes stay open while they are sleeping. Pac mans are available in many patterns and colors, the most common being yellow and green, with mottled spots/patches. These colors and patterns prove to be perfect camouflage for hiding on the rainforest floor, waiting for prey to happen by. Because of their delicate and porous skin, handling your frog is not recommended.


Pac mans are relatively inactive and sedentary. They are beautiful and entertaining pets, but they have no desire to be handled. Handling a pac man frog is very stressful for it and may result in illness. Their skin is very sensitive, being a secondary breathing organ. Some pac mans are diurnal; some are crepuscular.

NOTE: DO NOT house Pac Man frogs with others of their species or any other species to prevent cannibalism - your pac man will most likely eat any visitor.


Carnivores; live food Protein sources such as: gut-loaded crickets, small feeder fish, earthworms, wax worms and pinky mice (dusted with a supplement every other feeding) should be part of their diet. Wild caught insects should never be fed, since they can carry disease. All insects should be gut loaded (fed a nutritious diet about 24-hours before being offered to your frog - see our cricket care sheet). When feeding larger insects to your pet, try to make sure the insects have recently molted, as an insect with a large, hard exoskeleton is difficult to digest and may cause impactions.

Your pac man frog is programmed to snap at anything that happens by its mouth. Considering the fact that they DO have teeth, take care that you are not mistakenly bitten. It is always safest to feed your frog with tongs, just in case. This behavior has earned the pac man the label of “vicious and aggressive.” This is not true; they are just instinctually grabby hunters.


Dust food with calcium supplement and vitamin supplements. As a rule, a growing juvenile's food (and a pregnant/gravid female’s) should be dusted more often than an adult's. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions for applying supplements to avoid over-supplementing food. Our veterinarian recommends dusting insects with a good quality calcium supplement fortified with vitamin D3, 2-3 times a week. (Avoid using a calcium supplement with added phosphorous, unless specifically directed by your veterinarian, since this can promote kidney disease.) Always consult your veterinarian for specific directions on supplementing your pet’s food, since there are many variables that go into determining the best supplementation regimen for each animal.


All water given to amphibians for bathing, swimming or drinking, as well as water used for misting must be 100% free of chlorine and heavy metals. (Not all home water filtration systems remove 100% of the chlorine and heavy metals from tap water). We recommend that you use unflavored bottled drinking water or bottled natural spring water; never untreated tap water. If tap water is used, you should treat it with a de-chlorinating treatment. De-chlorinator is available in the fish department. If you do not want to chemically de-chlorinate the water, you can leave an open container of tap water out for at least 24 hours. Do not use distilled water, which can cause severe medical problems, since it lacks minerals that are essential to important body functions.

Change the water in your frog’s enclosure every one to two days.

A daily misting or two with chlorine-free water will also be appreciated. However, care should be taken not to allow the enclosure to become damp. Also, do not mist less than two hours before turning the heat lamps off for the day.


Frogs do shed their skin. It can be quite alarming, so it’s good to know what to expect. Your frog may crunch his body up into an uncomfortable crouching position. Then he will puff his body up to try to loosen the skin, then he may convulse as if he is coughing! Your pac man may also swipe at his eyes or body with his feet, sliding the old skin off his body. As the skin is shed, he will eat it. It has many good nutrients, and your frog knows it!

If the tank humidity is low, your frog may not shed properly.

To create more humidity, the entire tank can be lightly spray misted twice a day during shedding time. Spray once in the morning and once later in the day. Make sure the later spray dries completely before lights go off for the night.


  • 10 gallon glass tank.
  • Glass aquarium cover or metal mesh tank cover.
  • Large shallow water dish, a Pac man can drown in a deep dish.
  • Temperature / humidity gauge - do not stick to side of tank.
  • Hide house.
  • Coconut fiber substrate, moistened.
  • UVB bulb and housing.
  • Pac Man Frog Book.
  • Calcium supplement.


Pac man frogs are ectothermic, or cold-blooded, therefore the environments we create for them must be heated properly to keep them healthy. Your frog needs a warm, humid environment in its enclosure. A ten-gallon glass tank with a metal mesh cover will work fine. If you lose too much humidity through the metal mesh cover, you can tape plastic sheeting (thick plastic bag) over part of the mesh. However, be sure NOT to block the UVB light with the plastic, as it will filter out all the important rays before they reach you pet(s).

HEAT PAD: Reptile heat pads can be adhered directly onto the underside of the glass bottom of the tank. Stick pad on the glass on one of the very far ends of the tank, on the opposite end of the water dish. For safety reasons, make sure to attach the rubber feet (contained in the box) at all four corners of the underside of the tank. This will allow air to circulate underneath the tank and prevent the heat from being trapped under the tank.

Heat pads specifically manufactured for reptiles are safe for pets to be in contact with and are safe to leave on 24 hours a day. DO NOT use reptile heat rocks. They heat unevenly and have caused severe thermal burns in frogs.

HEAT LAMP:A heat lamp is not necessary for your frog enclosure, unless your household temperatures fall below 70 degrees at night. In that case, you will need to apply supplemental heat in the form of a ceramic heat emitter or an infrared bulb.

UVB LIGHT:Exposure to UVB (ultraviolet B) light is critical in allowing an animal to synthesize vitamin D3 in their skin and metabolize calcium in their body. If an animal is not exposed to an adequate level of UVB light, it will gradually develop physical problems from the result of mineral deficiencies such as low blood calcium (hypocalcaemia), soft eggs (females), stunted growth and metabolic bone disorder, which can be fatal if left untreated. In addition, recent studies have linked sub-optimal vitamin D levels with poor immune system function.

All day-active (diurnal) indoor reptiles, amphibians, birds and hermit crabs should be allowed self-selected exposure to UVB lighting for up to 8-12 hours a day. This means they should be able to bask in the light but also get away if desired, much as they might in the wild. Many twilight-active (crepuscular) and night-active (nocturnal) species do get some exposure to the sun and may also benefit from low levels of UVB, which helps regulate their photoperiod and vitamin D levels as well.

Please see our additional “UVB Lighting for Companion Birds and Reptiles” for specific instructions for your particular pet and the UVB bulb that we recommend for him or her.

HIDING PLACES:Your frog will appreciate a good hide hut, just make sure it is big enough for him to enter and turn around in. You can also place a hide hut over the water dish as well; your frog will be spending a lot of time in the water.

SUBSTRATE:We recommend a loose coconut fiber substrate, available in the reptile department and made by several companies. It is made from the husks of coconuts. This substrate is ideal for your frog, as it will help hold humidity in and is also a perfect substrate for plants. Keep the substrate slightly damp, but not watery. Plant your live plants right into the substrate. Live plants can help increase the humidity in your frog enclosure. Be sure to include only reptile safe plants such as pothos, aloe, philodendrons, spider plants, ficus, and dracenae. They can be planted directly into the enclosure substrate.

WATER BOWL:Include a large but relatively shallow (1 to 1 ½ inches) water dish in the enclosure. It should be large enough for him to sit in comfortably, but not deep enough for him to drown in. Pac mans are not good swimmers.

TEMPERATURES:Cage temperatures should be monitored daily and kept at the temperatures listed at the top of this page. Use your reptile thermometer to check the temperatures in different places in the cage regularly to make sure they continually match the listed proper temperatures. * If the room temperature falls below 70 degrees at night, a supplemental infrared or ceramic heat fixture may be necessary. (These fixtures do not emit a light spectrum that is visible to the frog, so it will not disturb him at night, but they WILL provide the necessary supplemental heat.) If your frog does not receive the proper heat at the proper temperatures along with UVB light, he may become sick with issues such as respiratory disease and will probably stop eating, as frogs have a hard time digesting their food without proper heat and light.


All amphibians must have distinct day and night periods in their enclosure to maintain their biological rhythms. Pac man frogs need 8-12 hours of daytime and 8-12 hours of nighttime. However, as the daylight hours change seasonally outside, daylight hours inside the tank should reflect the same.

The day period must be light, and the night period must be dark.

A timer should be used to set day/night periods.


Daily maintenance should consist of spot cleaning by removing soiled substrate, cleaning water bowl thoroughly and wiping glass clean.

The entire tank should be cleaned thoroughly at least once every couple months with:

  • A mild dishwashing liquid (a weak dilution) in warm water, THEN
  • Vinegar & water (1:8) OR bleach and warm water (1:32)
  • Cage “furniture” should also be scrubbed clean with the same dilution.


To reduce the risk of contracting and spreading salmonella poisoning, all handlers should wash their hands after handling any reptile.


Smooth, even scales; no traces of mites (small, reddish brown spots around pits and nostrils, under scales); clear, bright eyes; rounded, full body; strong, even, smooth jaw line; regular record of healthy feeding and defecating schedule. It is very important to keep a journal for each animal that records feeding, refusals, defecation, shedding, unusual behavior, changes in behavior and dates of bulb changes. This will help your veterinarian trouble-shoot any health issues.


Irregular scales; small reddish brown spots (mites) around mouth, pits, eye area, ear area or under scales; irregular jaw line, ‘dents’ in mouth with (or without) cottage cheese-like material (mouth rot); cloudy eyes or dull colored body when not in a shed; thinned body; irregular feeding and defecating habits. Limp, thin body, lethargy, sunken eyes, pinkish patches or spots on belly or sides; obvious bite marks or wounds from cage mate or prey. Red, fluid filled patches may indicate thermal burns or blister disease. For most conditions, see your exotic pet veterinarian, who can properly address and treat your pet.


  • Mites: Symptoms include small reddish-brown spots around eyes, pits, mouth & under scales. For treatment, see exotic pet veterinarian. Parasite will be identified and proper treatment administered.
  • Skin problems - bacterial, fungal, abrasions: Symptoms include ulcers, patches or wounds visible on skin, lethargy or loss of appetite. For treatment, call exotic pet veterinarian. Optimizing cage set-up, topical and systemic medications.
  • Bloating disease: Symptoms include Bacterial disease - Accumulation of fluid under the skin gives a bloated look to the frog . See an exotic pet veterinarian immediately for antibiotic therapy.

©2012 Dawn M. Trainor-Scalise Courtesy of: Specialized Care for Avian & Exotic Pet In conjunction with Pet Supplies Plus 10882 Main Street, Clarence, NY 14031 Ph (716) 759-0144