Frogs make great pets. Whether you are a veteran frog keeper or just getting into the magical world of anurans, there is a pet frog for everyone!
Bugs are a favorite food of frogs and are a critical part of their diet. However, some people are uncomfortable with handling feeder insects like crickets and roaches. Are there any pet frogs that don’t eat bugs?
While all pet frogs will eat bugs if they’re offered, there are some pet frogs that don’t eat bugs. Aquatic frogs can have varied, nutritionally complete diets without bugs. African dwarf frogs and African clawed frogs will eat pellets, worms, and small crustaceans. Worms and crustaceans can be fed live, frozen, or freeze-dried.
There aren’t many pet frogs that can thrive on a diet without insects. Why are bugs so important for frogs, anyway? And are there any frogs out there that don’t eat bugs at all?
Why Do Frogs Eat Bugs?
The diets of most frogs are made up of mostly insects. This is largely because most frogs will eat anything that fits into their mouths, and insects are small and widespread. Insects occupy all of the same environments as frogs. Frogs have adapted to eat insects because they are always available. Whether a frog lives on the ground, in a tree, or in the water, there are plenty of bugs to eat!
Most frogs aren’t scavengers, they are predators. Frogs are naturally attracted to moving prey, and so wiggling bugs are very tempting!
Furthermore, frogs need protein, but not too much! Insects offer a perfect amount of protein for frogs. A nutritional analysis of 4 feeder insects found that they contain approximately 15-20% protein. Other prey items, like mice or fish, contain higher levels of protein and fat which can lead to obesity and other health issues. While these protein-rich prey items can be fed to some frogs, they should be fed sparingly.
Bugs are a favorite, and often necessary food for frogs.
Are There Any Frogs That Don’t Eat Bugs At All?
While most frogs are insectivores, there is one species that doesn’t eat bugs at all.
The Izecksohn’s Brazilian treefrog doesn’t eat bugs, worms, or any other creeping, crawling thing.
It eats fruit! This frog is the only frugivorous (fruit-eating) amphibian that we know of. Like other fruit-eating animals, Izecksohn’s Brazilian treefrogs help to disperse seeds in the rainforest. They also drink nectar and help pollinate flowers, as you can see in the video below:
This frog seems like an ideal choice for someone who doesn’t want to deal with insects. However, they are not kept in captivity.
Most pet frogs need to eat insects to have a healthy, well-rounded diet. However, there are a couple of pet frogs that don’t eat bugs. Let’s have a look!
2 Pet Frogs That Don’t Eat Bugs
While most frogs need insects in their diet, some aquatic frogs don’t. African dwarf and clawed frogs are examples of pet frogs that don’t eat bugs. In captivity, these frogs enjoy pellets, worms, and frozen fish foods.
1. African Dwarf Frog
A tiny, fully aquatic species, African dwarf frogs are pet frogs that don’t eat bugs – although they do appreciate insect larvae like frozen bloodworms! The video above shows African dwarf frogs eating blood worms, as well as a variety of other foods.
In the wild, African dwarf frogs live in stagnant or slow-moving waters in equatorial Africa, like shallow ponds, rivers, and creeks. During the wet season, they may even be found in flooded forests.
Regardless of the body of water they inhabit, African dwarf frogs hang out near the bottom, hiding in the leaf litter to stay hidden from predators and potential prey. Wild African dwarf frogs prey on insect larvae, tiny fish, small water insects or those that fall into the water, and sometimes small snails.
Since these little frogs only get to be about 2.5 inches in length, their prey has to be teeny-tiny!
In captivity, African dwarf frogs do well on a diet of high-quality sinking frog pellets and insect larvae or small worms, like frozen bloodworms, tubifex worms, or live blackworms.
If the thought of feeding live worms to your frogs doesn’t make you uncomfortable, you can establish a colony of blackworms in a small container, and you will always have a supplemental food for your frogs! Your frogs get to practice their hunting abilities on live prey, and you get the enjoyment of watching them do it.
If feeding live worms makes you uncomfortable, you can find frozen or freeze-dried worms in most pet stores.
Other food options for ADFs are small crustaceans, which can be fed frozen or live. Brine shrimp, mysis shrimp, daphnia (water fleas), and scuds (small shrimp that sometimes occur naturally in aquariums) are all eaten by African dwarf frogs.
African dwarf frogs will also eat baby fish (called fry) – if they can catch them! One popular fish to feed ADFs are baby guppies. Guppies are small, common freshwater fish that are easy to keep and easy to breed. Coincidentally, they also make great tankmates for African dwarf frogs! The adults are too big to be eaten and can live with your ADF in harmony.
If you keep these frogs with guppies, be aware that some babies might mysteriously go missing.
2. African Clawed Frog
Another fully aquatic species, African clawed frogs get quite a bit bigger than their dwarf cousins. Reaching lengths of up to 5 inches, these frogs can handle larger prey.
In the wild, these frogs are found in eastern, southern, and some parts of western Africa. Like African dwarf frogs, they reside in stagnant or slow-moving water, like warm ponds and gentle streams.
As tadpoles, African clawed frogs are filter feeders. However, as adults, they eat – well – whatever they can find! As scavengers, adult ACFs eat living, dead, or dying arthropods or other small creatures. They also eat aquatic insect larvae, water bugs, bugs that fall into the water, crustaceans, tadpoles, small frogs, worms, freshwater snails, and small fish.
In short, these frogs will eat anything that can fit into their mouths! This is made easier by the claws on their hind feet, which they use to tear apart food.
While African clawed frogs eat bugs in the wild, they can have a rich and varied diet in captivity without insects. Pet clawed frogs can be fed guppies and other feeder fish, earthworms, waxworms, small guppies, tubifex worms, and blood worms. They can also be fed high-quality pellets formulated for frogs or aquatic turtles.
Of course, they can also be given insects like crickets or dubia roaches.
How Do You Feed Aquatic Frogs?
If your African dwarf or clawed frogs have their own tank, you can just drop their food into their aquarium. It is best to use a small dish – made out of an aquarium-safe material like terracotta or glass – so that the frogs can find the food more easily and prevents the food from getting lost in the substrate. It also makes it easier to clean up any food that your frogs don’t eat.
Always clean up any uneaten food to preserve your water quality!
It is common to keep aquatic frogs in bare-bottom aquariums. These aquariums have no substrate at all. While it might not be aesthetically pleasing, these setups are easier to keep clean and eliminate the possibility of your frogs accidentally ingesting substrate. Plus, the frogs don’t seem to mind a bare floor!
If you keep fish with your frogs, feeding them is a bit more challenging. Fish are a lot quicker than aquatic frogs and can very easily steal their food! To avoid this, you can feed your frog directly with a pipette or tongs.
As you have learned, there aren’t many pet frogs that don’t eat bugs. While frogs can eat lots of different things, insects should make up the bulk of their diet.
The Izecksohn’s Brazilian treefrog eats fruit and nectar, but unfortunately, they are not kept in captivity.
Commonly kept as pets, the fully aquatic African dwarf frogs and African clawed frogs can survive and thrive without bugs, although they will accept them if they are offered. These frogs make great choices for a prospective frog owner who is a little bit squeamish about handling bugs.
While the species above are pet frogs that don’t eat bugs, it is still important to give them a varied diet to ensure they are getting all of the nutrients they need.
If you want a treefrog, dart frog, bullfrog, Pacman frog, or toad, feeding bugs are a part of the deal! Never try to replace insects with another food item in an insectivorous frog’s diet. While supplementation is okay (and encouraged!), bugs are a staple for most pet frogs. If you are unable to provide adequate nutrition for your pet, consider a different species or enlist the help of a friend or family member to help you feed them.
Your frog’s well-being always comes first!