What frogs eat can be somewhat confusing since their diet changes depending on their life cycle stage. While writing this article I realized people are searching strange things about what frogs eat in Google. And some articles are providing complete misinformation – frogs are not herbivores!
I really hope people aren’t actually feeding frogs lettuce or hot dogs (those are some things people are searching!). So I made this article that includes videos, tables and infographics to clear up what frogs eat in the wild and as pets. Here is a quick summary:
As a general rule, wild and pet adult frogs feed on insects including ants, flies, grubs, and larvae. Larger adult frogs also feed on larger prey including small birds, small bats, small snakes, and other frogs. Frogs are obligate carnivores at the adult stage of their development.
Here is a brief summary of what frogs may eat and their diet depending on their life cycle stage:
|Frog Life Cycle Stage||Diet||What They Eat|
|Tadpole (0 to 6 weeks)||Herbivore||Algae, Decaying vegetation|
|Tadpole (6 to 12 weeks)||Omnivore||Algae, Decaying vegetation, Small Insects|
|Froglet||Obligate Carnivore||Small Bugs, Fish, Frogs|
|Adult Frog||Obligate Carnivore||Insects, Small Mammals, Birds, Lizards|
Frogs are obligate carnivores once they are past the tadpole stage of their development. This means that frogs eat live prey that they actively or passively hunt. Let’s see what frogs eat depending on their life cycle stage, in the wild and as pets.
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The videos above and below cover what frogs do and do not eat depending on their life cycle stage. Consider subscribing to our channel if you enjoy the content 🙂 Below these videos, I have also added tables, written content, and infographics to make understanding what frogs can and cannot eat more digestible (pun intended 😉
At the very end of this article there is a complete table containing a long list of what frogs do and do not eat depending on their size. So if you would like an extensive list, be sure to scroll to the bottom of this article for more. Let’s start with a shorter list of what wild and pet frogs eat.
Complete Table of What Frogs Eat
Adult frogs can eat invertebrates, small mammals, small lizards, small freshwater shrimp or fish, and smaller frogs. These include beetles, cockroaches, dragonflies, grubs, larvae, minnows, moths, roaches, slugs, small birds, small frogs, small bats, and small snakes.
Here is a full table of almost everything frogs do and do not eat depending on their size:
|What Do Frogs Eat?||Small Frogs||Large Frogs|
|Freeze Dried Bloodworms||No||No|
Frogs may also eat their own skin. This is very common for amphibians and is a process called “sloughing.” Frogs naturally shed and eat their skin which contains nutrients and protein. They do so to stay healthy and their tracks from predators.
List of What Frogs Do Eat
Frogs eat invertebrates, small mammals, small reptiles, small amphibians, small freshwater shrimp or fish, and smaller frogs. Examples of what frogs eat include:
- Fruit Flies
As a general rule frogs are cannibals and engage in cannibalism. This is especially true for larger frog species like Cane Toads and American Bullfrogs. Larger Frogs typically eat frog eggs, tadpoles, froglets, and smaller adult frogs including their own species and offspring.
Frogs may eat wasps, mealworms, ants, aphids, beetles, bees, bloodworms, crickets, cockroaches, caterpillars, earwigs, frogs, fireflies, guppies, goldfish, grubs, isopods, ladybugs, locusts, moths, maggots, millipedes, newts, ants, stink bugs, super worms, shrimp, toads, wax worms, and woodlice.
Large frogs can eat larger prey including small snakes, alligators, birds, reptiles, geckos, koi fish, lizards, rats, fish, scorpions, large spiders, other frogs, and praying mantis.
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List of What Frogs Do Not Eat
Frogs cannot eat processed foods including cat or dog food, fish food, cheese, ice cream, bread, chocolate, lunch meat, dairy, popcorn, pellets, peanut butter, pickles, peanuts, pizza, bacon, turtle food, tuna, chips, hot dogs, or other human food.
Frogs cannot eat meats humans eat, may it be fresh or processed, including beef, chicken or ham, lunch meat, steak, tuna, bacon, or turkey.
Frogs cannot eat fruits or vegetables including apples, avocado, bananas, blueberries, cucumber, carrots mushrooms, oranges, oats, plants, berries, peaches, pickles, peppers, strawberries, spinach, tomatoes, watermelon, or human food.
However, some of the foods juvenile and adult frogs cannot eat, can be safely consumed by frog tadpoles (CTNF).
Find out what to feed captive frogs in this guide on our blog
What Frog Tadpoles Can Eat
Tadpoles eat algae, boiled broccoli, cucumber skins, lettuce, leeks, cabbage, watercress, spinach, kale, zucchini, duckweed, phytoplankton, detritus, frog eggs, fish eggs, tadpoles, dragonfly eggs, egg yolk, dragonfly larvae, mosquito larvae, aphids, and ants.
At the stage of eggs, frog eggs feed on the yoke from their egg. They cannot move and have no mouths so they rely on their own storage of naturally-formed yoke to survive.
Tadpoles primarily eat algae, plants, small insects, and phytoplankton. Tadpoles may also eat smaller tadpoles if their location lacks other nutrients for them to feed on. In captivity, you can feed tadpoles boiled lettuce, spinach, or broccoli.
|What Pet Tadpoles Eat||Tadpoles||Adult Frogs|
|Naturally Decaying Vegetation||Yes||No|
What Pet Frogs Eat
What captive frogs eat and how often frogs eat depends on the species and the size. Here are some examples of common pet frogs and what they eat:
Gut loading the prey before feeding it to the frog can be very beneficial to your pet. By feeding the crickets fruits and vegetables a few hours before feeding your frog, the nutrients are passed on to the frog and help them get the vitamins and minerals they need in their diet.
|Poison Dart Frog||Ants, Crickets, Flies||2 to 3x Per Week|
|American Bullfrog||Mice, Spiders, Mealworms||1x to 2x Per Week|
|African Clawed Frog||Feeder Fish, Brine Shrimp||2 to 3x Per Week|
Frogs can eat all kinds of worms but some are better than others. Be sure to check out our article that is linked above to know which worms are best for frogs. Some people “dust” the prey with adapted supplement powders containing Vitamin A, Vitamin D or calcium to ensure their pet frog is truly getting all the nutrients they need (CTNF).
Frogs prefer live prey and will only eat dead insects or dead mammals if they are starving. So do not get a pet frog if you do not want to feed it live food. There are few exceptions to this rule including a few fully aquatic frogs such as African Dwarf Frogs and African Clawed Frog that may naturally feed on decaying insects.
Learn more about the reasons not to have a pet frog on our blog
How Big Should a Frog’s Food Be?
As a general rule, anything a frog eats should be no wider than the distance between the frog’s eyes and no longer than ⅓ of the frog’s body length. Feeding a frog food that is too large can lead to vomiting, impaction, illness or death.
Rules to follow when feeding frogs food:
- Girth is smaller than the distance between the frog’s eyes: If the girth (circumference) of the food item is larger than the distance between the frog’s eyes, it is too large for your pet frog to safely eat it.
- Food length is up to ⅓ of the frog’s body length: If the food is longer than ⅓ the frog’s body length it is too long. If it is a worm, feel free to cut it in half or in thirds depending on how long the worm is.
Frogs will try to eat anything they can fit in their mouths but may also be attracted to items too large for them. I found this toad looking at a caterpillar much too large for it to eat. Thankfully the toad realized this and moved on to smaller prey.
Feeding a frog food that is too large can lead to:
- Choking: A frog may choke if they ingest a food item that is too large which can lead to death.
- Vomiting: A frog may vomit if they ingest a food item that is too large.
- Impaction: A form of constipation that can make your frog very sick.
- Obesity: Overfeeding frogs or feeding them food that is too large too often can lead to obesity which can lead to other illnesses or eventually kill frogs.
- Rotting Food: If the food is too large it may rot in the frog’s stomach causing gas buildup and deadly bacteria to produce.
- Death: Impaction, obesity, and rotting food in the frog’s stomach, as well as other diseases linked to feeding frogs food that is too large, can lead to death.
Find out more about the best size food for frogs on our blog
How Long Can Frogs Live Without Food?
Most healthy adult frogs can survive for 3 to 4 weeks without food, while adult frogs with average health may only survive 1 to 2 weeks. Adult frogs can survive for months without food during hibernation. However, juvenile frogs can only survive without food for around 1 to 3 days.
|Frog Age||Average Health Survival Time||Good Health Survival Time|
|Tadpoles||1 day||1 – 2 days|
|Juvenile Frogs||1 – 2 days||3 days|
|Mature frogs||1 – 2 weeks||3 – 4 weeks|
Find out more about how long frogs can live without food on our blog
How Do Frogs Eat?
Frogs generally spot their prey, lick it up with their long sticky tongue, and then swallow it whole and alive. Frogs use their eyes to push prey down into their stomach where it generally dies. The prey is then fully digested and excreted.
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Frogs eat following a multiple step process:
- Spot the prey
- Sit still
- Lick up prey
- Swallow prey live and whole
Learn more about How Frogs Eat on our blog
More About What Frogs Eat
Did you know that frogs eat by quickly launching their long, sticky tongue at their prey to catch it off guard and snatch it up? Frog prey gets roped up in the frog’s tongue and sticks to their saliva. Frogs then retract their eyes into their sockets to swallow their live food.
Frogs can be lazy or active hunters, but overall they are big eaters. Some frogs, like Pacman Frogs, are ambush predators. They hunt by sitting and waiting for their prey to come to them. Other frogs are active hunters and will hunt down their prey.
Learn more about what and how frogs eat in these articles on our blog:
- What Do Toads Eat?
- What Do Tree Frogs Eat?
- How Long Do Frogs Live Without Food?
- Will Frogs Eat Dead Bugs?
- Do Toads Have Teeth?
Common Questions About What Frogs Eat
Do Frogs Have Teeth? Some frogs have teeth in their upper jaw, on the roofs of their mouth to help them swallow their prey and keep it down. Generally, a frog’s teeth are not used for self-defense and are only visible from the inside of their mouths.
What Can I Feed a Frog? You can feed wild frogs bugs that are available in their environment that are smaller than them. You can feed pet frogs adapted prey that is grown in captivity. But do not feed wild-caught bugs to pet frogs to avoid exposing them to pesticides or parasites.
What Human Food Can Frogs Eat? Frogs are carnivores that eat live, moving food. Humans generally do not eat live, moving food and so frogs cannot eat human food. Do not feed your frog fruits, vegetables, or table scraps.
Can a Frog Eat a Mouse? Large frogs such as Bullfrogs or Pacman Frogs can eat small mammals including mice and other rodents, small bats, small birds, small snakes, salamanders, and small alligators.
Do Frogs Eat Lettuce? Frogs are carnivores that eat live, moving food. Therefore, human food including lettuce is not adapted to frogs. Tadpoles however, may enjoy lettuce or spinach, but prefer algee. Do not feed froglets or adult frogs lettuce or human food.
How Long can Frogs go Without Food? Frogs can go without food for 2 to 7 days depending on the species and their last meal. For example, a bullfrog that ate a mouse can wait up to 7 days for its next meal, whereas a dart frog that ate ants should eat again within 48h.
Can Frogs Eat Fish Food? Frogs cannot eat fish food. Frogs are carnivores that eat live, moving food, and fish food or guppy flakes is not appealing nor adapted to frogs as feed.
How do Frogs Drink? Frogs “drink” water by absorbing the humidity around them through their skin. This is one of the main reasons why it is so important that frogs live in a humid environment or close to water.
Can Frogs Choke? If a frog ate prey that is too large for its body, it may choke or experience intestinal issues. Frogs eat their own skin which may look like choking to humans. But sloughing is a natural process that frogs carry out regularly, often in the morning.
Do Frogs Eat Dead Bugs? Most frogs will starve before they eat anything not moving like a dead insect or dead mammals. Frogs are carnivores that prefer to eat live, moving food.
Altig, Ronald. Whiles, Matt R., Taylor, Cindy L.: What do tadpoles really eat? Assessing the trophic status of an understudied and imperiled group of consumers in freshwater habitats, Freshwater Biology (2007) 52, 386–395.
Chesne, Corinne. La Grenouille. Artémis éd., 2009.
Parsons, Harry. L’univers Des Grenouilles: Amphibiens Poseurs. Éditions Du Trécarré, 2000.
Grenouilles, Crapauds Et Rainettes: Morphologie, Comportement, Alimentation Et Reproduction …, by S. Caratozzolo, De Vecchi, 2008.