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22 Fascinating Pacman Frog Facts For Amphibian Lovers

Jordyn Alger

By Jordyn Alger

albino pacman frog on top of weeds

There are thousands of frog species all over the world, with each of them having their own unique qualities. If you are looking for a frog that is suitable for a first-time frog owner yet still interesting, you should consider the Pacman frog.

Some believe the Pacman frog is among the most fascinating frog species currently known. They are large, colorful, and even comical, making them fun for pet owners of all ages. To learn more about this incredible frog, keep reading our 22 Pacman frog facts.

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The 22 Pacman Frog Facts

1. Their Name Comes from the Classic Video Game

If that Pacman frog’s name sounds familiar to you, chances are you’ve played the classic Pac-Man video game once or twice. Since the Pacman frog is huge, round, and has a massive mouth, it was suitably named after the large-mouthed video game character.

Their size and shape are not the only qualities that make the frog similar to Pac-Man. The Pacman frog tends to eat anything moving in front of it, similar to how the video game character munches on dots and ghosts throughout the maze. If you’re a fan of frogs and video games, the Pacman frog may be the perfect fit for you!

2. They Are Native to South America

The Pacman frog is a terrestrial burrowing frog that originated from South America. Most of them are found in Brazil, within the Amazon Basin. However, they can be found in other regions throughout the continent, such as Uruguay and Argentina.

Although they are best suited for the climate of the South American rainforest, that does not mean that the Pacman frog cannot be a happy and healthy pet in other areas of the world. Just ensure that the enclosure you keep your pet in provides proper heating, lighting, and moisture levels for your frog to thrive.

pacman frog resting
Image Credit: Patchara T, Shutterstock

3. They Have Another Name

If you’ve never heard of the Pacman frog before, there is a chance that you’ve only heard it being referred to by its other name. The Pacman frog is also known as the Argentine Horned Frog. Some call it the South American Horned frog.

These names come from the region in which the frog is found and the horn-like structures above its eyes. These structures are not true horns, as they do not contain any bone but are flaps of skin that protrude above the eye. It is believed that the purpose of this horn is to aid in camouflage, as it can make the Pacman frog appear like a leaf.

4. They Are Excellent Pets

The Pacman frog is easy to care for, making it an excellent companion for novice and experienced frog owners. This frog will always be doing something entertaining, and they are fun to observe.

This species is resilient and requires minimal care. They need a small enclosure (10 gallons or more) with 3 inches of substrate. The substrate can be coconut fiber or peat moss. They will also require fresh water, a heater beneath the tank, fluorescent lighting, and ultraviolet light. Since they are carnivores, you must provide insects, worms, or small mice for your Pacman frog.

pacman frog or south american horned frog
Image Credit: Dirk Ercken, Shutterstock

5. They Thrive in Freshwater

Like most frogs, the Pacman frog does best in freshwater. Specifically, this species enjoys marshes and pools. Not only does the Pacman need a source of fresh water for drinking, but they also need it for reproduction.

However, the Pacman frog is not a very good swimmer. While you should provide a source of clean water for your frog, make sure it is not too deep. Pacman frogs may enjoy and thrive near freshwater, but for the most part, they only spend a little bit of time inside the water to lay eggs.

6. They Shouldn’t Be Handled with Bare Hands

One of the main concerns of owning a Pacman frog as a pet is how challenging handling them can be. Pacman frogs have exceptionally delicate skin, so much so that the oils from your hand can irritate your pet.

Even worse, the oils or debris on your hand can become trapped in your frog’s skin. Most frogs breathe through their skin, so it can impede their breathing when something clogs up their skin. For this reason, it is best to handle your Pacman frog only when strictly necessary.

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

7. They Live for a Long Time

Another reason the Pacman frog makes such a good pet is that this species can live for a long time. While the Pacman frog’s natural lifespan in the wild may be shorter, Pacman frogs in captivity are believed to live as long as 15 years. Some have even been projected to live longer! With this long lifespan in mind, know that bringing a Pacman frog home is a commitment and an opportunity for a long-term companion.

8. They Spend a Lot of Time Eating

As mentioned, the Pacman frog’s eating habits resemble its video game namesake. This frog keeps eating! It is known to have a voracious appetite and will eat anything that moves in front of them. It will be made into a meal as long as it is alive and within the Pacman frog’s range.

While the Pacman is typically docile, it can quickly perk up when it thinks you’re bringing dinner. Some Pacman frog owners have reported that their frogs will even leap against the sides of their enclosure in their excitement to chow down.

a pacman frog climbing up a log
Image Credit: Patchara T, Shutterstock

9. They Lie in Wait for Their Prey

Since the Pacman frog is a terrestrial burrowing animal, it can typically be seen burying itself in mud or among a layer of fallen leaves. The only way to spot the frog is to find its eyes protruding from the earth.

Hidden beneath the dirt like this, the Pacman frog bides its time and waits for prey to cross its path. When an unfortunate animal does, the Pacman frog will attack, using its powerful tongue and legs to pull at its prey while lunging at the same time. This hunting tactic is why the Pacman frog is known as an ambush predator.

10. They May Resort to Cannibalism

No one wants to think that their adorable, funny pet can become a cannibal, but in the case of the Pacman frog, cannibalism is not off the table. If you have multiple frogs, whether or not they are the same species, you should keep the Pacman frog separate. If not, it may make an afternoon snack out of your other pets.

In 2015, an article was published titled “To Have a Frog in the Throat: Micro-CT Imaging Of Anuran Prey in Ceratophrys ornata.” In the article, Dr. Thomas Kleinteich from Kiel University, Germany, discovered the fully intact body of a frog inside the digestive cavity of a Pacman frog. So, it is not unheard of for these frogs to eat each other.

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

11. Females Are Larger Than Males

Some people expect that the male of any species will always be larger and more physically imposing than the female, but that is not always the case. In the instance of the Pacman frog, the females are bigger.

Typically, female Pacman frogs range between 4 and 7 inches in length. As for the males, they only grow to be 2 to 4 inches. Due to the size difference, the females may try to eat the males after mating.

12. Males Are More Colorful Than Females

If you want a pet frog full of vibrant colors, you will want to find a male Pacman frog rather than a female. While the females are bigger, the males are more colorful.

Female Pacman frogs generally are tannish in color to blend in with the mud and dead leaves. However, the males may have a variety of colors, ranging from bright lime to rich green.

high red ornate pacman frog, ceratophrys ornata
Image Credit: Opayaza12, Shutterstock

13. They Have Teeth

The Pacman frog isn’t all soft and squishy. They have teeth, and they are one of the only species that do. The teeth and bones along the jaw are used to trap prey. When a Pacman frog bites down on its prey, the teeth dig in to keep the animal locked in.

This feature is important to remember when handling or feeding a Pacman frog. Although these frogs aren’t typically aggressive, they may bite if they mistake your fingers for food. They can draw blood, so be careful.

14. They Have a Powerful Bite Force

Not only does the Pacman frog have sharp teeth, but it also has a fearsome bite force. Some Pacman frogs have been known to have bite forces comparable to mammalian predators of their size.

This feature is useful due to the prey the Pacman frog tends to target. In the wild, Pacman frogs will eat insects, lizards, mice, and other frogs— all of which are quick animals. To swiftly capture and keep its prey, the Pacman frog must be faster and more powerful.

albino pineapple albino morph south american horned frog or pacman frog
Image Credit: Dennis W Donohue, Shutterstock

15. They Have Been Known to Accidentally Suffocate Themselves

You would think that an animal with teeth and a powerful bite force would chew their food, but that’s not the case with the Pacman frog. Instead, this frog chooses to swallow its prey whole. While this generally works fine, there have been instances where it backfires.

Sometimes, the Pacman frog accidentally suffocates itself while trying to swallow prey that is too large. While feeding your Pacman frog, be sure that you give it proportional prey only.

16. Habitats That Are Too Dry Can Cause Issues

Proper hydration is essential to your Pacman frog’s health and well-being. If your frog’s habitat is too dry, it can lead to significant issues such as dehydration.

Some common causes of overly dry habitats include heating pads or overhead lights that are too powerful. While these objects are also essential to your Pacman frog’s health, too much can lead to dehydration.

Ceratophrys Canwelli or Pacman frog swimming in water
Image Credit: Patchara T, Shutterstock

17. They’re Nocturnal

Pacman frogs are nocturnal creatures and are most active at night. They also have powerful night vision that helps them spot other animals and ambush their prey at night.

Since Pacman frogs are most active at night, they don’t require as much lighting as non-nocturnal animals might. Still, they will need fluorescent and ultraviolet lighting to keep them in good condition.

18. They Hibernate During Winter

Bears aren’t the only animals that hibernate during the winter. The Pacman frog is known to go into a hibernation of its own called brumation. This is done so that the Pacman frog can endure the rougher winter weather. The Pacman frog will emerge from its brumation when the weather grows warmer again.

During this period, the Pacman frog will cease all nonessential bodily functions. It will rely on body fat stores to make it through the winter, then reawaken during the warmer months when food is generally more plentiful.

Pacman frog sitting on a leaf outdoors
Image Credit: Dirk Ercken_Shutterstock

19. They Sleep With Their Eyes Wide Open

There is rarely a time when the Pacman frog will close its eyes. Even when sleeping, the frog keeps its eyes wide open. Some claim that they have observed their Pacman frog blinking during eating, but this is not a true blink.

Instead, it is a retraction of the eyes into the esophagus, which aids the Pacman frog in swallowing its food. One of the only times that the Pacman frog will reliably keep its eyes closed is when it is in brumation, and it needs to maintain eye moisture.

20. Females Are Much Quieter Than Males

Since Pacman frogs are ambush predators that hide and wait for their prey to walk past, it makes sense that they might not always be croaking or making noise. However, male Pacman frogs are almost constantly chirping in search of a mate.

Pacman Frog, Argentine Wide-mouth Frog, Ceratophrys ornata
Pacman Frog, Argentine Wide-mouth Frog, Ceratophrys ornata (Image Credit: Mike Baird, Wikimedia Commons CC 2.0 Generic)

21. They Reproduce Differently Than Most Amphibians

Many amphibians lay their unfertilized eggs in the water and then leave. Afterward, the male will arrive and fertilize them. However, the Pacman frog does this a little bit differently.

Unlike most amphibians, which reproduce externally, the Pacman frog reproduces internally. Then they lay the eggs in a pond, which are already fertilized.

22. Females Lay Thousands of Eggs at a Time

The average brood size for a Pacman frog is 2,000 eggs at one time, and that is only the average! It isn’t unheard of for the Pacman frog to lay 2,500 eggs or more. However, most eggs will not survive long enough to hatch into tadpoles.

They will either be destroyed or eaten by aquatic creatures, so it is unlikely that all 2,000 eggs will hatch. Pacman frogs lay this many eggs not to produce this many offspring but to guarantee the survival of a few.

Ceratophrys ornata (Pacman Frog)
Ceratophrys ornata (Pacman Frog) (Image Credit: Grosscha, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported)

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The Pacman frog is a unique and remarkable creature. They make excellent pets, are easy to care for, and are docile. First-time frog owners and experienced owners alike can get a lot of joy out of having this frog as a companion. We hope this article has helped you learn more about such a fascinating frog.

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Featured Image Credit: yusuf kurnia, Shutterstock

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