Melissa Kaplan's
Herp Care Collection
Last updated January 1, 2014

Breeding Horned Frogs


Ernie Wagner, Reptiles 4(4):12-14, April 1996


"Pac-Man" frogs (or horned frogs) are pretty indiscriminate in what they eat, and I have seen babies of equal size gobble each other down. However, if you have adult frogs that are well fed, then it is possible to keep groups of them together safely.

The first step in breeding them is to determine whether or not you have specimens of both sexes. Females grow much larger than males, and are silent. Males will call, often after being sprayed with water. In fact, a persistently calling male can drive you to distraction if you have to share the same room with him.

If you have an adult pair in good physical condition, you need to put them through a cool, dry period to get them ready for breeding. This is done by placing them in a tank with a deep layer of sphagnum moss, and allowing it to dry out (by not spraying it). A water bowl should be available at all times, however, so the frogs can seek it out if necessary, even though they'll probably just go under the moss and stay there. The temperature in their enclosure should be reduced to approximately 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Maintain the frogs like this for about two months. They will probably not eat during this period.

Following this cool, dry period, bring the frogs out and place them in a shallow tank of water (with a place to climb out). When in the water, they should be able to touch bottom with their feet to support themselves. You then need to begin a vigorous program of artificial rain making. This can be done by spraying the frogs several times a day, or you can rig a misting system with a water pump and an overflow system to the water doesn't become too deep. If you have only one male and want to stimulate his amorous behavior, you can tape record his calls and play them back to him. Males seem to be encouraged by the calls of other males. It's useful to float some type of aquatic vegetation in the water to which the eggs can be attached. Eggs are usually laid within three or four days of the beginning of the "rains." Following egg laying, the frogs should be removed from the tank. Additional water should then be added, and the eggs should hatch within two to three days.

Tadpole management is very time consuming. The tadpoles are total carnivorous, and can be raised on live tubifex worms. They will also readily eat each other, and there are two ways of dealing with this. The first is to place each tadpole into its own small jar, and the other is to place all the tadpoles into a large tank of water that is filled with masses of floating plants (real or plastic). Food can then be placed on the floor of the tank and the tadpoles will swim down, feed, and then swim back up to hide in the plants. Both methods require labor. The first involves changing dozens of individual jars to keep the water clean, and the other involves morning and evening siphoning of the large tadpole tank. I prefer the large-tank method myself, even though you may loose an occasional tadpole to cannibalism.

The tadpoles will grow rapidly, and after about a month, they should begin transforming into little frogs. They'll need a place to haul out of the water at this point and, once again, you will be faced with a husbandry decision. If kept together in large numbers, almost every day you will find frogs with siblings' hind legs sticking out of their mouths. The other alternative is to place each frog into its own individual plastic cup. The little frogs are easy to feed, they will eat anything that moves, such as crickets, mealworms, other frogs, small goldfish, or your fingers. They will grow quite rapidly. Horned frogs are really fun to breed, but be prepared to spend a fair amount of time on your project in order to succeed.

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