Argentine Horned Frog Care Sheet

Scientific Facts

Common Name Argentine Horned Frog
Scientific Name Ceratophrys ornata
Life Span 12 to 20 years in captivity
Size 8 inches in diameter
Habitat Shallow water areas, underground when the seasons are cool
Country of Origin Brazil, Argentina, and other South American countries

Physical Description

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Popularly known as the Pac-Man Frog, the Argentine Horned Frog is one of the more popular types of pet frogs all over the world because of its striking colors and the variety of colors it comes in. These frogs are fun to look at and can instantly light up a room because of how captivatingly colorful they are. As such, there is no wondering why they are so popular among different breeders and exotic pet owners.

The Argentine Horned Frog varies in terms of the color it comes in. There are some that are predominantly light green while others are on the darker shade of green. Some of these frogs can also have a yellowish color, but there are those that are dominated by a brownish color. In some cases, Argentine Horned Frogs can also come in colors that are closer to gray. This only goes to show that this frog has colors that really vary depending on where they were caught or on the parent frogs they were bred from.

Other than the varied colors they come in, the Pac-Man Frog also has a very unique and striking appearance because of the different patterns found on its body. A lot of these frogs come with stripe-like patterns that usually have colors that are in contrast to the main color on the body of the frog, while others have large spots all over. As such, some of these frogs have different kinds of brown patterns, while others may have patterns that are greenish. It also is not too rare to see an Argentine Horned Frog with yellowish patterns.

The reason why the Argentine Horned Frog is called as such is that they have really big eyes that stick out of the body to give them a horned appearance. Meanwhile, they are also called Pac-Man Frogs because of how they kind of look like Pac-Man in the sense that their mouths are so huge that it seems like they are made of only a head and a large mouth that opens up to eat anything that fits in it. Sometimes, this frog opens up its mouth so wide that it can look like its mouth is actually larger than the rest of its body.

You won’t be able to tell apart males from females until the Argentine Horned Frog has reached maturity. Females are naturally bigger than males and can reach 8 inches in diameter. Meanwhile, males rarely grow to more than 4 inches. The males also have throats that are colored darker compared to that of the females.

Eating Habits

Similar to the actual Pac-Man from the popular video game, the Argentine Horned Frog is an animal that will eat anything so long as it fits its mouth. It is an understatement to say that this is a very active eater and is an animal that will stuff virtually anything edible into its large gaping mouth. To that end, they are primarily carnivorous amphibians that are not very difficult to feed because of the fact that they will eat whatever you offer them.

Pac-Man frogs, in the wild, have a diet that is as diverse as its colors. They will eat invertebrates such as insects, worms, cockroaches, flies, or grasshoppers. These frogs will also eat smaller fish that wander too close to them when it is in the water. And when the mouse is small enough for the Argentine Horned Frog, this active eater will eat it. These amphibians are similar to snakes only in the sense that they eat their prey whole and stuff them into their mouths like Pac-Man.

In captivity, it is best to feed younger and smaller Argentine Horned Frogs with a diet that is mainly centered around invertebrates such as crickets, mealworms, and wax worms. These types of invertebrates are generally very affordable and are quite easy to find. Another thing you should never forget when feeding them with invertebrates is that you should first gut-load the crickets and the worms to make them more nutritious for your frog. Feed these invertebrates with healthy greens and vegetables just right before you feed them to your Pac-Man Frog so that the latter will be able to absorb the nutrients. Since invertebrates are not rich in calcium, you should also dust them with a calcium supplement. These frogs should be fed on a daily basis when they are still small because they need the calories to grow.

Meanwhile, larger Pac-Man Frogs should be fed with larger prey items. Smaller adults may feed on newborn mice that were frozen and then thawed out. You will find that when you offer these pinkie mice to your frog, it will not hesitate to eat it in one big bite. However, as the frog gets bigger and bigger, they will be able to eat an entire full-grown mouse into its mouth and will eat and swallow it whole. The mouth of an Argentine Horned Frog is so large that it can eat an adult mouse that is about a third of the frog’s size. If you want, you may also opt for feeder fish. And while a calcium supplement is no longer needed for adult frogs because they eat food that is loaded with calcium, you may still opt to give them more calcium once in a while.

When you are feeding your Pac-Man Frog with live prey such as mice, there are times that they will not look like they are interested in their food as these tend to be very lazy amphibians that hardly move at all. However, when they catch their prey off guard, they are actually very quick to strike and will proceed to pounce on it with a large bite that can swallow an entire mouse whole.

Adult Argentine Horned Frogs should only be fed an entire mouse maybe once every three to four days because of how these amphibians are so prone to obesity (since they are very lazy animals that hardly move). When you notice that your frog is getting fat and round, you may want to decrease the frequency of the feedings or maybe cut back on the size of the meals that you feed them with.


Sexing an Argentine Horned Frog can be done when it has already reached adulthood. You will notice that the females are far larger than the males and may even grow twice as big as their male counterparts. The smaller males are usually somewhere between 2.5 inches to 4 inches in terms of diameter, while females can grow up to 8 inches in diameter. Male Pac-Man Frogs also have darker bellies compared to the females. It is believed that the females are larger than the males because they need the extra size and weight to produce healthy eggs.

Before breeding the frogs, they should first undergo a two-month hibernation period when the season gets cold. You can also induce this state of dormancy by letting them stay in a place that is as cool and as dry as the winter. After that, you can introduce the male to the female as they are both ready to reproduce upon waking up from their hibernated state.

Reproduction in these frogs is kind of straightforward as you merely need to leave them alone in a single enclosure for a period of up to two months. When you see that the female has laid eggs a few days after successful copulation, that is the time when you should separate the two already.

One thing that you should always keep in mind is to make sure that you schedule their feedings and that you keep both of these frogs well-fed. After all, as mentioned, Argentine Horned Frogs will eat anything that fits into their mouths. And since the female is far larger than the male, there is a good chance that it will eat its mate whole if you leave it hungry.

Common Health Problems

Amphibians such as the Argentine Horned Frog are prone to different types of bacterial and fungal infections because of the type of environment they are used to. Some common signs of bacterial and fungal infections are swelling and redness on the skin of the frog, similar to how bacterial and fungal infections can also cause swelling and redness on the skin of a human being.

While respiratory infections are not so common when it comes to amphibians, that does not mean that the Argentine Horned Frog is immune to it. Pac-Man Frogs can still suffer from respiratory infections such as colds if they are left in enclosures that are either too cold or too humid for them to handle. Some common symptoms of respiratory infections include wheezing, loss of appetite, lethargy (which is difficult to detect because of how lazy this frog is), and maybe even mucus.

One other thing that should be noted here is that Argentine Horned Frogs are prone to parasitic infections, which can be acquired from the food that they eat or from the environment they live in. It can be because the parasites were already living inside their prey or that the enclosure became a breeding ground for parasites.

Preventing Illness

Preventing illnesses in your Pac-Man Frog is not an entirely easy feat if you do not know what kind of illness you are trying to minimize in terms of risks. However, if you know the types of illnesses that they commonly suffer from, it might be easier to prevent them. For starters, try to make the conditions as livable as possible by providing your Argentine Horned Frog with the right kind of temperature and humidity. Cleaning the enclosure from time to time also goes into providing your frog with a nice place to live in. Also, when it comes to parasites, try to make sure that you feed them with prey that was captive-bred in a clean environment so as to make sure that they are free from parasites that can jump into your Pac-Man Frog after the latter eats them whole.


The Argentine Horned Frog is an ideal pet to have for beginners because of how easy it is to maintain. This pet does not require a lot of attention on your part because of the fact that it is so lazy that it barely moves at all. To that end, this is a very good pet for those who do not have any experience in handling exotic animals. While they might not be too friendly, they are not aggressive as well and will allow you to handle them without any sort of aggression coming from their part.

As mentioned, the Argentine Horned Frog might be quite lazy, but that does not mean that it will take threats lightly. This frog will make a screaming sound if it feels like there is an incoming threat. The purpose of doing so is to try to scare it off. Wild-caught Pac-Man Frogs may even bite humans if they feel threatened.

Pac-Man Frogs, unlike their smaller and more mobile cousin frogs, are actually very poor swimmers. They may spend some time in shallow water,  but they try not to swim in deep waters because of how their small limbs are somewhat too weak to handle their large bodies.

When it comes to eating, Argentine Horned Frogs have an appetite that is quite voracious. Anything that wanders too close to this large frog is an instant meal so long as its mouth is big enough to fit the entire animal. To that end, they should be housed solitarily as they have a tendency to eat their cage mates. They may even practice cannibalism so long as the other frog is small enough to fit in the larger Pac-Man Frog’s mouth.


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The good thing about the Argentine Horned Frog is that they do not require to live in large enclosures because of the fact that they do not really like to move around that much. These are lazy amphibians that tend to stay in one place for the majority of their active time. As such, a 10-gallon tank might already be a good housing unit for these frogs.

A tank for your Argentine Horned Frog can be something as simple as a small aquarium. To prevent the Pac-Man Frog from escaping, you may want to use a top opening as the entrance to the enclosure. Cover the opening with a screen door so as to not only secure the tank but to also provide it with the airflow it needs to stay humid enough for your Argentine Horned Frog.

Since the Pac-Man Frog tends to be quite lazy, you do not have to put a lot of things inside its enclosure. For aesthetic purposes and to give your frog a sense of security, you can actually put some plants inside the tank. The plants will serve as hiding spots for your Argentine Horned Frog, although it is an amphibian that also is not known for hiding under plants or anything large enough to cover it.

Lighting and Humidity

Argentine Frogs are diurnal animals that spend the day active and awake, although they probably won’t move very much. As much as possible, give them about 10 to 12 hours of daylight. However, they are not very fond of strong lights and might get stressed out if you expose them to a lot of light. As such, the perfect type of light bulbs for their enclosure are fluorescent lights because these do not tend to emit a lot of hot light. Ultraviolet B bulbs are also good because of how they provide your frog with vitamin D3.

Pac-Man Frogs love to stay in environments that are very humid. Try to keep humidity levels up by improving the airflow in your amphibian’s enclosure and by making sure that it stays in an environment that is quite damp. Mist the substrate from time to time to make sure that it is moist. A large water dish also helps keep humidity levels steady. The dish also serves as a soaking area for it if it feels like the environment is a bit too dry.


Argentine Horned Frogs like places that are quite warm but not too hot or else it will get stressed out. As such, keep the temperatures in its enclosure somewhere close to 82 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 78 degrees Fahrenheit during the night. As much as possible, do not exceed 85 degrees as it might stress your amphibian out.

Since the Pac-Man Frog does not like strong lights, you should use other sources of heat for its enclosure, such as UVB lamps. But if a UVB lamp is not hot enough, use heating pads placed under the enclosure to heat the frog’s habitat without emitting light. But if temperatures get a bit too cold, you may supplement the heat with a smaller incandescent or with a fluorescent lamp.


As with any kind of animal, keeping the Argentine Horned Frog’s enclosure clean and sanitary is the key to helping it stay healthy. To that end, you should clean the enclosure as much as possible by spot cleaning any sort of dirt you see. Replace the water in its water dish whenever it gets dirty. However, the most important part here is to sanitize the entire enclosure, maybe perhaps once a month, to prevent bacteria and molds from building up. You should also sanitize its water dish, especially if it defecated in it.

Natural Environment – Substrate

The Pac-Man Frog needs to live in an environment that feels natural. Hence a substrate is necessary for its enclosure. A good substrate to use is peat moss because it holds moisture really well. After all, the substrate also serves a secondary purpose of keeping the enclosure humid since the best types of a substrate are great at retaining moisture. Try to keep the substrate as damp as possible but not waterlogged.

Availability – Where to Get One?

When choosing an Argentine Horned Frog, it is always best to go for captive-bred ones because of how they are much more docile and receptive to getting handled. Wild-caught ones are known to bite humans whenever they feel threatened. You can get your hands on a good Pac-Man Frog from a respectable breeder for a very respectable price of somewhere between $15 to $40. The price of these frogs will vary depending on their color and from where their breed comes from.

How to Care for an Argentine Horned Frog?

Here are some tips on how to care for an Argentine Horned Frog:

  • Do not overfeed them because they are prone to obesity since they practically eat anything in sight and in range.
  • Argentine Horned Frogs are best housed alone because they will try to it anything that moves and may even cannibalize on their fellow frogs.
  • Always wash your hands when handling your Pac-Man Frog as you might transfer harmful bacteria that can cause infections.
  • Argentine Horned Frogs do not like getting exposed to a ton of daylight and are better left in an enclosure that relies on a light source that isn’t too strong or too bright.


Do Argentine Horned Frogs bite humans?

Generally, the Argentine Horned Frog is a friendly amphibian that will not bite humans. However, wild-caught ones are known to bite anything they deem as threats.

Are Argentine Horned Frogs carnivorous?

Argentine Horned Frogs are very carnivorous and will eat anything that moves so long as it is small enough to fit its largemouth. They also practice cannibalism and will eat fellow smaller Pac-Man Frogs.

Are Argentine Horned Frogs easy to get?

It is quite easy to get your hands on Pac-Man Frogs because they are common and very affordable for any kind of prospective exotic pet owner.

Are Argentine Horned Frogs easy to handle?

The Argentine Horned Frog is a docile creature that is receptive to handling so long as you do not seem to pose a threat to it.

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