Are Frogs Omnivores? The Truth.

Everyone knows frogs love bugs, but it seems some people think frogs can also consume fruits and vegetables. If frogs consumed both animal-based foods (like bugs), and plant-based foods (like fruits and vegetables), they would be omnivores.

But, frogs have been in my life for many years and I can tell you, the idea that frogs are omnivores is a false misconception.

Frogs are not omnivores because they solely consume animal-based foods at the froglet and adult stages of their development. Therefore, frogs are obligate carnivores once they are no longer tadpoles.

Let’s uncover the truth about why frogs are not omnivores, because feeding developed frogs plant-based foods can be dangerous to their health.

Frogs Do Not Eat Plant-Based Foods

Frogs do not eat fruits, vegetables, or other plant based foods because they are typically too large to consume and immobile. Frogs feed on live, moving prey that is small enough to fit into their mouths and plant-based foods do not qualify.

Frogs cannot eat plants, vegetables, or fruit like apples, bananas, berries, blueberries, peaches, grapes, strawberries, algae, avocado, carrots, spinach, grass, leaves, lettuce, mushrooms, pickles, or tomatoes because frogs are carnivores.

Here is a list of fruits and vegetables frogs can eat:

Do Frogs Eat Fruits or Vegetables?Small FrogLarge Frog
StrawberriesNoNo
GrapesNoNo
BlueberriesNoNo
BerriesNoNo
SpinachNoNo
LettuceNoNo
TomatoesNoNo
MushroomsNoNo
FruitsNoNo
VegetablesNoNo

You may notice we wrote no for all the items in the list. This is because frogs cannot eat fruits or vegetables:

  • Fruits do not eat fruit because they are generally too large and immobile. Fruit also contains high levels of fructose (sugar) which is not a part of a frog’s natural diet and could be detrimental to their health.
  • Frogs do not eat vegetables because they are generally too large and immobile. Frogs require live, moving, meat-based prey in order to obtain the nutrients they need in their diets.

The vast majority of frog species could not lick up an entire fruit or vegetable, swallow, and safely digest it. Frogs do not have teeth made to nibble at grass or other plant-based foods. Therefore frogs do not naturally consume plant-based foods in the wild.

On the other hand, people think it’s safe to feed frogs highly processed foods that humans and their pets consume such as hot dogs or fish food. Highly processed foods including hotdogs, bacon, bread, hoagies, lunch meat, ice cream, peanut butter, pizza, and other salty, sugary, highly processed foods do not contain the nutrients frogs need to survive.

If a frog is seen eating fruits, vegetables, or dead prey it is probably unhealthy or starving, and may suffer illness, malnutrition, stunted growth, increased cannibalism, or death.

Learn more about why frogs do not eat fruit on our blog

Since frogs cannot safely consume plant-based foods on a regular basis, including fruits and vegetables, frogs are not omnivores. Let’s have a look at why frogs are obligate carnivores. 

Frogs Are Obligate Carnivores

Froglets and adult frogs are obligate carnivores meaning they require animal-based meats in their diet. Frogs consume live meat-based prey including spiders, ants, mosquitoes, and worms.

As a general rule, if the prey is moving, is large enough for the frog to see, but small enough to fit into its mouth, the frog will eat it or attempt to eat it.

Here are some animal-based foods frogs can safely consume depending on the size of the frog:

  • Worms
  • Spiders
  • Ants
  • Mice
  • Bats
  • Birds
  • Snakes

Here are meat-based foods frogs can and cannot eat:

Can Frogs Eat?Small FrogLarge Frog
Hot DogNoNo
SteakNoNo
BaconNoNo
TurkeyNoNo
Lunch MeatNoNo
MosquitoesYesYes
AntsYesYes
CaterpillarsYesYes
SnakesNoYes
FishNoYes
LizardsNoYes
MiceNoYes

Most of the foods that humans consume are cooked, baked, grilled, or prepared in some way over heat, especially when it comes to animal based foods and meat. Frogs do not cook their food.

Illustration of what frogs eat

Therefore, most of the meats that humans consume are not safe for frogs. Frogs cannot eat a live cow, pig, or chicken (although American Bullfrogs are known to eat baby ducks and chicks). So when we refer to frogs being carnivores, we mean they consume things that are alive, moving, smaller than them, and can easily be swallowed.

Learn more about why frogs are carnivores on our blog

Frog Tadpoles Are Different 

Tadpoles are herbivores during the first 0 to 6 weeks of development, and are omnivores after 6 weeks until they become froglets. 

So, although froglets and adult frogs are obligate carnivores, they are omnivores during the early stages of their development. 

Tadpoles are very small and are not capable of consuming a wide variety of live prey while they are fully aquatic. Therefore, tadpoles require tiny bits of decaying aquatic vegetation and phytoplankton to feed on in order to develop during the first six weeks of their lives.

Illustration of what tadpoles eat

Once tadpoles begin to develop legs, or after approximately six weeks after birth, they have grown to a larger size and are capable of consuming larger food items.

At this time tadpoles begin to also feed on tiny bits of animal-matter in the water with them including aphids and zooplankton.

Can Tadpoles Eat?TadpolesFrogs
AlgaeYesNo
AntsYesYes
AphidsYesYes
CabbageYesNo
Collard GreensYesNo
Cucumber SkinsYesNo
Egg YolkYesNo
Fish EggsYesYes
KaleYesNo
LeeksYesNo
LettuceYesNo

Wild tadpoles generally eat algae, moss, and phytoplankton. Captive tadpoles can eat boiled lettuce, spinach, broccoli, and egg yolk.

Tadpoles are effectively different from froglets and adult frogs in a sense that they are herbivores during the early stages of development, and omnivores during the second stage of their tadpole development.

However, once tadpoles have reached the froglet and adult frog stages they are no longer herbivores or omnivores (CTNF).

Captive foglets and adult frogs should never be fed fruits, vegetables, or any plant-based foods which are items they would not naturally gravitate towards in the wild.

Learn more about what tadpoles eat on our blog