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Do Pacman Frogs Have Teeth? Vet-Verified Amphibian Anatomy Facts

Oliver Jones

By Oliver Jones

pacman frog resting

Pacman Frogs are very popular pet frogs. They are fun to watch, relatively easy to care for, and readily available. However, owners are discouraged from handling the frog, and they can be very aggressive with other frogs and amphibians, so they do need to be kept alone. Although it is rare for them to bite their human owners, Pacman Frogs do have teeth, and they are somewhat prone to biting if they get scared or mistake a finger for food.

Although it’s uncomfortable and occasionally draws blood, a Pacman Frog bite isn’t usually painful. The frog isn’t venomous, so other than being a bit of a shock, a bite shouldn’t be too bad in most cases.

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About Pacman Frogs

Pacman Frog is the common name for a genus of frog species collectively known as South American Horned Frogs (Ceratophrys) and includes various subspecies. They are called Horned Frogs because they have sharp horns above their eyes. The horns are made of bone, and when the frog is hiding in leaves, they aid in camouflage. They have been given the common name of Pacman Frogs because their shape resembles the video game character Pac-Man, especially when the frogs open their mouths wide.

a pacman frog out in the heat outdoors
Image Credit: Patchara T, Shutterstock

Pacman Frog Teeth

Although they can be difficult to see, Pacman Frogs do have teeth. They have a full row of approximately 40 maxillary teeth, which are small cone-shaped teeth that run along the entire top half of the mouth. They also have four vomerine teeth, which are on the roof of the mouth. Frogs can replace lost teeth with new ones many times over their lives, unlike humans and many other animal species. Pacman frogs are the only popular pet frog species with both vomerine and maxillary teeth.

Do Pacman Frogs Chew Their Food?

Despite having quite a lot of teeth, Pacman Frogs do not chew their food. In fact, frogs, in general, do not chew their food. They swallow their prey whole and use the teeth primarily to hold insects and other small live prey in place while preparing to do so.

Pacman Frogs tend to hold onto their prey firmly once they get a good bite, and they are not opposed to opportunities for eating large prey. This can be problematic for them because sometimes, they refuse to release something that’s too big for them to swallow, which can lead to choking. To prevent this, any prey offered to your pet should be carefully selected to ensure that it’s not too big for your frog to handle. When in doubt, it’s best to choose a small morsel over a large one.

two pacman frog facing each other on a log in the wild
Image Credit: agus fitriyanto suratno, Shutterstock

Do They Bite?

While they don’t chew their food, Pacman Frogs are known for being biters. They will bite other frogs and on occasion, have been known to bite people. Generally, Pacman Frogs won’t bite their handlers when they are used to them. It happens more often with a new frog that isn’t used to being handled or having a hand in the enclosure. Your pet may mistake your finger for food, or they may bite if they feel threatened.

The bite doesn’t usually hurt, although it is a little uncomfortable and can come as a surprise if you weren’t expecting it and didn’t recognize the signs. The bite may draw a little blood, but because the Pacman Frog only has a single set of teeth at the top of the mouth, this is unlikely. The frog is not venomous either, though you should still follow specific guidelines after being bitten.

What to Do If Your Frog Bites

Like all amphibians, Pacman Frogs can naturally harbor pathogenic bacteria that can be harmful to humans. These pathogens can be present even in healthy frogs. Examples include Salmonella spp., Aeromonas spp., and Mycobacterium marinum. If your frog bites you, you should take the following steps.

What to Do If Your Frog Bites You:
  • Wash the area with warm, soapy water immediately.
  • Seek medical attention, especially if your frog appears sick or is acting unusually, the wound is bleeding, or the wound feels painful, red, swollen, and warm.
  • Medical attention is especially crucial if the person bitten by the frog is a child under the age of 5, an elderly person older than 65, a pregnant person, or someone with a weakened immune system
  • Any bite that’s over a joint and draws blood requires immediate medical attention, no matter how inconspicuous it seems.
  • Your frog may need to be seen by an exotic veterinarian to assess their condition.

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Conclusion

Pacman Frogs are popular pets. They are relatively low maintenance compared to cats and dogs, aren’t overly demanding in terms of their tank setup requirements, and are readily available and inexpensive. However, they shouldn’t be handled except when absolutely necessary, and they can’t be kept with other frogs. They are also known for biting.

A Pacman Frog might bite if they mistake your finger or hand for food or if they feel threatened. If yours bites, they may be uncomfortable, and there is a slight chance that they will draw blood. It’s best to seek medical attention if your frog bites you, as amphibians can naturally harbor many pathogens that are potentially dangerous for humans.


Featured Image Credit: Patchara T, Shutterstock

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