Frogs are amazing animals that feed on a wide variety of prey. In the wild, frogs have a varied diet that is generally naturally balanced. And so it can be hard to know what to feed frogs in captivity. Feeding a frog the right types of foods is very important so that they can stay healthy.
As a general rule, captive frogs should be fed a balanced and varied diet of invertebrates, crickets, mealworms, and grasshoppers sprinkled with necessary supplements including Calcium. Larger frogs can also feed on smaller reptiles and mice. Wild frogs should not be fed.
As long as the food is alive and is no bigger than the distance between the frog’s eyes, and shorter than ⅓ of its body length, the frog can eat it. Frogs are naturally carnivorous hunters and as such, it is important that you feed your frog live food that it can swallow. Let me explain what captive frogs can be fed, and what they should not eat for better chances of survival.
What to Feed Frogs in Captivity
Having a pet frog can be fun, but it is not for everyone. You need to know that frogs eat a variety of live prey and have a more exotic diet compared to other household pets.
As a general rule, frogs should have a balanced diet of live, gut-fed, and supplement sprinkled crickets, grasshoppers, locusts, hornworms, silkworms, mealworms, waxworms, bloodworms, or mice 1 to 3 times per week depending on the frog species, their size and the size of the meal.
While each species of frogs has specific nutritional requirements, here are some of the general food types that most frogs tend to eat:
- Crickets: Crickets are some of the most common types of food that frog owners feed their pet frogs. And the reason why crickets are often called the backbone of a captive frog’s diet is that they are very cheap and easy to get.
- Grasshoppers: If you can generally find grasshoppers or even locusts in your local pet store. Gut loading any of these bugs can help with your frog’s nutritional needs. Feed the crickets, grasshoppers, or locusts prior to feeding your frog to transfer the nutritional benefits of their meal to your frog.
- Hornworms and Silkworms: These worms are some of the best ones for frogs since they are generally high in calcium, or low in fat, and high in protein. Just like humans, frogs can become overweight if overfed or malnourished. And so it’s important to feed them a balanced diet that contains the right nutrients they need to flourish.
- Mealworms and Waxworms: Mealworms and waxworms are also some of the most common frog and reptile foods that you can buy in pet stores. However, waxworms are high in fat and mealworms have a shell that can be difficult for frogs to digest. So feed them hornworms or silkworms as a replacement if possible.
- Bloodworms, Brine Shrimp, and Blackworms: If you have a fully aquatic frog like an African Dwarf Frog or African Clawed Frog, these are some of the best types of food to feed them. You can also feed bloodworms, brine shrimp, and blackworms to semi-aquatic frogs but they are generally preferred for fully aquatic frogs.
- Caterpillars: It can also be quite easy to find caterpillars in your local pet store. However, the problem is that there are some caterpillars that can be quite large and fat to the point that they may be too large for your frogs to eat. Make sure you are feeding them the right-sized food by looking at the chart below.
- Earthworms: Your common worm can also be a good type of food to give your frogs because they are easy to find in pet stores. However, do not choose those that are made for fish bait since they may have chemicals and dyes for fishing on them. Also, keep in mind that these worms are long and generally need to be cut – which is something not everyone likes to do.
- Mice: If you have a larger frog, such as African Bullfrogs or a Pacman Frog, you should also feed them larger prey once in a while. Larger frogs can eat mice. But make sure that you provide your frog with live mice, not dead or frozen mice (CTNF).
Frogs are generally carnivorous hunters that will eat anything that comes by as long as it fits their mouth. That means that they eat live prey that’s still living and breathing. This is one of the reasons why a frog may try to bite your finger if it passes by its face (do not do this on purpose).
What Not to Feed Frogs
On top of knowing what to feed your frogs, you also need to know the types of food to avoid whenever you are feeding them.
Froglets and adult frogs should not be fed fruits, vegetables, processed human or pet food including broccoli, carrots, strawberries, bananas, spinach, steak, chicken, dog food, chips, hotdogs, or chocolate. Frogs are obligate carnivores that feed on live insects and small mammals.
Here is a good list of the foods that you shouldn’t be feeding adult frogs (see our guide for what to feed tadpoles because they do eat some of these things):
- Fruits and Vegetables: Froglets and adult frogs are carnivorous animals that will only eat live insects or animals. This means that they do not eat fruits and vegetables and should not be fed these things.
- Dead Food: Frogs are not only carnivores but are also hunters. Frogs are not scavengers. That means that they won’t eat any animal or insect that’s already dead unless they are starving and possibly ill. Even frozen mice should not be fed to larger frogs.
- Processed Food: In connection to the fact that frogs are carnivorous, they don’t eat anything that’s already processed such as bread, chips, common human or pet snacks.
- Meat: Frogs may be carnivorous but they thrive on a diet of live creatures. They also do not eat the same kind of meat that we eat. Even larger frogs such as the African Bullfrog will not eat any kind of meat as we view the term.
Even if you do choose the right kind of food to feed your frog, you should also be attentive with regards to the size of the food that you are giving the frog. Do not feed frogs food that is wider than the distance between the frog’s eyes or longer than ⅓ of its body length. Frogs may still try to attempt to eat these things, frogs can get very sick.
Why You Shouldn’t Feed Frogs in The Wild
If you are in the wild and you happen to see frogs, the first thing you need to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t be feeding them.
Here are the reasons why you should not feed wild frogs:
- They are not your pets: There is a general rule (and often laws) that you should not feed wild animals. Although birds and squirrels generally are exceptions in some backyards, most animals including large game and amphibians should not be fed at any time of year. They can fend for themselves and should not rely on humans. However, feel free to observe them eating from a safe distance.
- You might upset the balance of the ecosystem: Frogs are very useful in many ecosystems because they keep insect populations down. But frog populations still need to be controlled naturally by the ecosystem itself. So, if you feed wild frogs, you might upset the balance of the ecosystem to the point that the insect population will also begin to grow and the frogs may decline.
- Some of these frogs are invasive: There are plenty of different invasive frogs that can be found in suburban settlements. These species include the Cuban Tree Frog and the Cane Toad. Because these frogs are invasive, a growth in their population means that the balance of the ecosystem will be disturbed. Feeding these wild frogs can help increase their population (CTNF).
- You might end up feeding them something they shouldn’t eat: If you don’t know the right types of food to feed frogs, you might end up feeding wild frogs food items they shouldn’t be eating. This can lead to health problems among the members of the wild frog population.
Simply put, just avoid feeding anything to wild frogs even if you are feeding them something that’s edible to them. Let nature run its course and allow these frogs to hunt food for themselves. I love to go looking for frogs and sometimes I am lucky enough to catch one eating.
More About What to Feed Frogs
Learn more about what frogs eat and how to feed them in these articles on our blog: