What Do Frogs Eat?
Author: John Wellington
Updated: June 30, 2020
In this article, I’ll tell you what frogs eat. Whether they’re wild or captive, young or old, big or little, aquatic or terrestrial. You’ll get all the information you’re looking for and more.
Frogs eat invertebrates that are endemic to the region of the world they live in. Crickets, worms, flies, springtails, grasshoppers, moths, spiders, and other bugs are common sources of food for frogs. In addition to insects, large frogs are capable of eating small fish, mice, lizards, snakes, and other frogs.
They’re largely carnivores but some are omnivores. Frogs begin their lives as tadpoles, surviving off algae and plant matter. As they metamorphose into froglets they begin eating small insects.
What Frogs Eat in the Wild
As I mentioned in the opening paragraphs, frogs are mostly carnivorous. They eat insects that are readily available in the region of the world they live in. The size of the frog determines the size of the food they can eat.
Small frogs eat mostly insects while large frogs are capable of eating small animals. Bullfrogs, for example, are known to eat tarantula, snakes, mice, other frogs, and even birds.
Frogs almost never eat dead insects or animals. It may be hard to tell with wild frogs but it becomes apparent when keeping them as pets. Live crickets and mealworms are snatched up quickly while the dead ones go uneaten.
What Frogs Eat in Captivity
A frog’s diet in captivity is much different than it is in the wild. The main reason for the difference is because we can’t easily obtain a large variety of insects. We’re mostly limited to what we find at local pet stores and what we can cultivate on our own.
Frogs in captivity eat feeder insects such as crickets, fruit flies, mealworms, wax worms, and dubia roaches. Aquatic frogs eat brine shrimp and feeder fish. Large, terrestrial frogs can eat baby mice.
Here is a list of the common food sources that make up a frog’s diet in captivity.
- Crickets – This is the main source of food for most frogs in captivity. They aren’t the most nutritious option but they’re widely available in pet stores and they’re fairly easy to raise on your own.
- Fruit Flies – They’re small and super easy to culture at home. It’s important to note that most fruit fries found in pet stores are wingless or “flyless” (Drosophila melanogaster). These are mostly used for poison dart frogs and other small amphibians.
- Mealworms & Waxworms – Both of these are a viable option for frogs and toads. However, many tree frogs won’t touch them. Terrestrial toads enjoy them but it really depends on the type of frog you’re giving them to.
- Dubia Roaches – These have been growing in popularity because they’re easy to breed at home and much easier to contain than crickets. They’re also higher in protein than crickets.
- Brine Shrimp & Feeder Fish – Both brine shrimp and feeder fish (minnows, guppies, etc) are used to feed aquatic frogs like African clawed frogs.
- Mice – Large frogs enjoy the occasional “pinkie” in their diet. A “pinkie” is a tiny, baby mouse. You can find them in pet stores either alive or frozen although it can be difficult to get frogs to eat the dead/frozen ones.
That’s a list of things you can find in most pet stores. Another option is to check for earthworms in the fishing section of certain big box stores. My local Walmart sells two or three types of worms in a small cooler in their fishing and hunting section.
Nutrition: Gut loading, Vitamins & Minerals, and Calcium Supplements
Frogs get vitamins, minerals, and calcium from the wide variety of insects they eat in the wild. In captivity, as previously mentioned, their sources of food are limited to only a few things.
In addition to this, most feeder insects from pet stores are low in nutrients. Take crickets for example; they’re easy to breed and raise on low-quality food but they lack all the nutrients your pet frogs need.
Because crickets aren’t very nutritious, you need to remedy this so your frogs remain healthy. One one of doing that is by “gut loading” your crickets.
Gut loading is the process of feeding nutrient-dense foods to your feeder insects for 48 hours before feeding them to your frogs. During this process, you’ll want to give your feeder insects (crickets, for example) fruits and vegetables like oranges, sweet potatoes, apples, carrots, etc.
Doing this will benefit your frogs because the nutrients are passed on to them after eating the gut-loaded crickets.
Another way to help your frogs obtain all the vitamins and minerals they need is by dusting their food with supplements.
Vitamins and minerals help reptiles and amphibians stay healthy. Another big one is calcium. Calcium helps their bones stay strong. Both are important to keep your pet frog happy and healthy.
Dusting crickets (and other feeder insects) is simple. Place the feeders into a small container and sprinkle some supplement powder in with them. Shake the container in order to cover the insects with the powder. Once finished, feed the insects to your frog!
How Much & How Often To Feed Frogs
The amount and frequency in which you feed your frogs depend on their size and age. All frogs are different. For example, a large bullfrog will eat much more than a juvenile tree frog.
Regardless, I’ll tell you how I determine how much food to feed my frogs and how often to do it. But first, you need to know what size of feeder insect is appropriate for the frog you’re feeding. Try to stick with food sources no large than the width of the frog’s mouth.
If you have a baby toad, for example, he probably can’t swallow a full-grown cricket. Anything much larger than the width of his mouth may cause him to choke. Alternatively, some frogs won’t even attempt to eat insects that are too big and they’ll go hungry.
Now that you know how to select the appropriately sized feeder insect, let’s look at how much and how often you should feed your frog.
Most frogs are content eating every other day or 3 times per week. I recommend starting with this schedule for adult frogs. Juvenile frogs can be fed every day so long as the portions are correct.
Start by feeding each frog 2 – 3 crickets per day. If they eat all the crickets the first day, increase the amount you give them by 1 cricket. If there are always crickets leftover you may be feeding them too many crickets.
Monitor the number of crickets left over after each feeding. In addition to this, keep an eye on the weight of your frogs to ensure they’re not becoming overweight.
How To Feed Frogs in Captivity
Feeding frogs is an easy task once you learn the basics. A few cheap tools make the process easier too and that’s what I’ll cover in this section.
Start by getting your appropriately-sized feeder insects and a small food container. It doesn’t need to be big. Place 2 – 3 feeder insects into the small food container and add some supplement powder. Close the lid, shake it around, and you’re good to go.
Because the supplements come in powder form, it will cover the feeder insects in a thin layer. Don’t overdo it with the powder – add just enough to coat the feeders in a thin layer of powder.
Now that your insects are dusted with supplements, open the container and dump them into the frog’s enclosure. Diurnal species may eat the insects immediately while nocturnal species will wait until night.
Some people use feeding tongs but they’re not required. They’re mostly for large, diurnal species that readily eat food right when you give it to them.
What Baby Frogs Eat
Baby frogs eat mostly the same thing adult frogs do but on a smaller scale. Once a baby frog is big enough to eat live prey they begin with small bugs like fruit flies, mosquitoes, and springtails.
As the frog grows it will begin eating bigger things. Small worms, flies, spiders, and other bugs become suitable sources nourishment.
Baby frogs in captivity eat small insects as well. Wingless fruit flies and pinhead crickets are two of the best options. They’re small and easy to find in pet stores.
Wingless fruit flies are perfect because they’re easy to find and culture on your own. They’re super small too. Pinhead crickets are newly hatched crickets between 1 – 3 days old. Their size is comparable to that of a fruit fly.
Finding pinhead crickets at a pet store can be a bit more challenging as it takes more time to produce them. Also, the period of time in which they’re small enough to feed to baby frogs is short.
One benefit to crickets is that they get bigger than fruit flies and as your baby frog grows, larger crickets can be used along the way.
Once your baby frog is big enough you can introduce them to small mealworms. Not all frogs eat mealworms but it’s worth giving them a shot.
How Frogs Eat
Since you’re here learning what frogs eat, you may as well learn how frogs eat too. It’s quite interesting.
The process of how frogs eat is slightly different depending on the species. For example, some frogs have tongues and some don’t. Some use their sticky tongues to catch their prey. The video below shows frogs catching insects in slow motion.
Frogs don’t chew their food. They swallow it whole. What’s even more interesting is that they use their eyes to help them swallow.
Oh, and some frogs have teeth called maxillary teeth. They aren’t used for chewing. They’re used to hold on to their prey so it doesn’t escape.
This is a section for frequently asked questions. I’ll update it with more questions and answers as time goes on. If you have any questions, feel free to use the comment section below.
Question: What do frogs eat besides bugs?
Answer: Insects are the primary source of food for frogs big and small. Large frogs, however, are capable of eating small reptiles, fish, birds, mice, and even other amphibians. Pinkie mice are often fed to pixie frogs and large toads in captivity. In the wild, frogs will eat almost anything they can fit in their mouth. Small fish, tadpoles, frogs, snakes, lizards, mice, and even birds.
Question: How do frogs eat flies?
Answer: Frogs are ambush predators. They take on a “lay and wait” approach to catching their dinner. When a fly gets within striking distance of a frog, that’s when it springs into action. Frogs use their long, sticky tongues to snatch up the flies. Once the frog catches the fly, it proceeds to swallow it whole.
Question: What do frogs eat in a pond?
Answer: Anything in the pond that is alive, moving around, and small enough to fit into a frog’s mouth is probably something it will eat. In the wild, a frog’s diet consists of mostly insects; dragonflies, worms, mosquitoes, flies, etc. Small fish, other (smaller) frogs, reptiles, or basically any small creature using the pond water may become a meal for a large frog.
Question: Do frogs eat cockroaches?
Answer: Yes. In fact, dubia roaches are one of the best feeder insects for frogs in captivity. Cockroaches are a good source of food for wild frogs too.
Question: Do frogs eat dragonflies?
Answer: Yes. Nearly any type of flying insect that gets within striking distance of a frog can be eaten.
Question: What do frogs drink?
Answer: They don’t drink water orally as we do. Frogs absorb water through their skin. They have semi-permeable skin which allows water to pass through. While they may not drink it orally, it is essential for their survival and they’re able to absorb it through their skin.