Frogs change quite a bit through the course of their life cycle. Their metamorphosis changes them from wiggling, water-bound tadpoles to amphibians at home on land as well as in ponds. Frogs eat whatever invertebrates that inhabit the region they live in. Some large frogs can even eat small fish, reptiles, or mammals. While they're largely carnivores, some are omnivores, and all of them start off as herbivorous tadpoles.
What do frogs eat when kept as a pet? You'll want to replicate their diet in the wild as much as possible. Below, we'll go through what frogs eat throughout their life cycle and how you can support both captive and wild frogs.
What Do Wild Frogs Eat?
Frogs are mostly carnivorous, eating the insects that are readily available to them. Some species with a long sticky tongue and sticky saliva can catch flying insects and catch prey that passes them. The size of the frog determines the size of its prey. Small frogs will stick to a diet of small insects. This usually consists of various species of crickets, worms, flies, springtails, grasshoppers, moths, and spiders.
Larger frogs can set their sights higher, going after small animals. Bullfrogs, for instance, will eat tarantulas, fish, snakes, mice, lizards, other frogs, and small birds.
Frogs eat a varied diet of almost exclusively live animals.
What Do Captive Frogs Eat?
When in captivity, a frog's diet will necessarily be quite a bit different than it is in the wild. We simply can't easily obtain a large variety of live insects. We're limited to what's available at local pet stores and what we can attract and cultivate on our own. Avoid feeding frogs wild insects or wild-caught insects as they can pose a serious risk of pesticide exposure and put your frog health in danger.
Pet frogs will eat various feeder insects, such as pinhead crickets, fruit flies, mealworms, wax worms, and dubia roaches. Aquatic frog species can be fed brine shrimp and feeder fish, and large terrestrial frogs can eat baby mice. Let's look at these frog food options in further detail. Keep in mind - frogs won't eat dead insects. They prefer to eat live prey.
- Crickets - For most frogs in captivity, this is the main source of food. While they are low in nutrition, they are widely available, and you can fairly easily raise them on your own.
- Fruit Flies - These are small and easy to cultivate at home. The fruit flies available in most pet stores are "wingless fruit flies" or "flyless." They are used most frequently with poison dart frogs and as well as baby frogs. And as the baby frog grows, it will begin eating bigger insects.
- Mealworms + Waxworms - These are a great option for frogs, but some frogs turn up their nose at them. Most tree frogs, for example, won't touch them.
- Dubia Roaches - These are higher in protein than crickets and have been growing in popularity. They're easier to breed at home and much easier to contain until feeding time.
- Brine Shrimp + Feeder Fish - For aquatic frogs, choose either to bring shrimp or one of the various feeder fish, such as minnows or guppies.
- Mice - Newborn mice are sometimes referred to as a "pinkie." Large frogs will enjoy occasional pinkie mice. You can source them in pet stores, both alive and frozen. You may find that your frog won't eat the frozen ones, however.
- Earthworms - Earthworms are a great food option for captive frogs and can be found in the fishing section of many big box stores. You can usually find two or three different types of earthworms in a small cooler in the fishing and hunting section.
What Can't Frog Eat?
Here is a list of foods to avoid feeding your frog:
- Human food
- Food made for other animals (e.g. kibble)
- Prey larger than the distance between the frog's eyes
- Wild-caught bugs
How To Optimize The Nutrition Of Your Frog
In the wild, frogs get vitamins, minerals, and calcium from the wide variety of insects they eat. A pet frog has a limited diet, and this limits the nutrition available to them.
To remedy this, pet frog owners will gut load their crickets. Gut loading is feeding nutrient-dense foods to feeder insects for 48 hours prior to feeding them to the frog. You'll feed your feeder insects fruits and vegetables and then feed the gut-loaded insects to your frogs, thereby passing this nutrition on to them to ensure that they get all the vitamins and nutrients they need.
Calcium is also necessary but harder to bolster through gut loading feeder insects. Instead, you can dust the insects or frog's food with calcium and mineral supplements. Simply place your insects in a small container with some supplement powder. Pop the lid on, give the container a shake, and the insects become covered with the power and are ready for feeding frogs.
How Much Do Frogs Eat?
The amount of food a frog eats depends on its size and age. An adult bullfrog will eat much more than a baby tree frog. Adult frogs' schedules will also be different from baby frogs.
First, determine how large of a feeder insect is appropriate for your frog. Stick to food sources no larger than the width of the frog's mouth. A baby frog probably can't handle a full-grown cricket without choking. Adult frogs may not be interested in insects that are too small for them.
Most pet frogs are happy eating every other day. Start with two to three insects per day.
How Do I Feed My Frog?
To feed your frog, place a couple of insects, preferably gut-loaded, into a small container with a bit of supplement powder. Dust the insects, and then open the container and dump them directly into your frog's enclosure. Diurnal frogs might eat the insects right away, while nocturnal frogs will wait until night. Some frog owners use feeding tongs, but they're not necessary. They're mostly used for large, diurnal frog species that will readily eat insects as soon as you give it to them.
Do Frogs Drink?
Yes, but not orally, as we do. Frogs absorb water through their skin in their natural habitat. Make sure there is plenty of water in their habitat.