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Horned Frogs / Pacman (Ceratophrys cranwelli, Ceratophrys ornata)

New Caledonia

Chacoan and ornate horned frogs are the most beautiful of the large frogs. Their relative inactivity and easy to accommodate requirements make them one of the best pet amphibians. Both species are captive-bred in large numbers and readily available in the pet trade.


Females grow larger than males. Chacoan horned frogs up to 5.5 inches. Ornate horned frogs up to 6 inches.


Mature males are smaller than females, develop a dark colored loose skinned throat area and dark nuptial pads on the inside of the thumbs.

Social Groups

Juveniles are readily cannibalistic unless kept stuffed through daily feedings. Mature animals of both sexes can be kept together as long as they are fed at least once a week.

Housing and Care


Individual frogs can be raised and maintained in 10 gallon tanks, although a larger enclosure such as 20 gallon long is better choice for adults.


One of the best substrate is an open celled polyurethane foam pad cut such as to slope toward a water area. Unlike with burrowing substrates, horned frogs kept on foam will be visible most of the time. The most widely used and readily available substrate is coir (coconut fiber pulp) now readily available in the pet trade either in bricks or in bags. To allow frogs to buurow, add two to three inches of moist coir to the bottom of a tank.


Horned frogs if allowed to burrow in substrate require no additional landscaping, other than an optional shelter. When kept on foam, a shelter large enough for them to hide in is recommended. With these two species, their large size makes keeping any live plant difficult unless it is sturdy and tall to avoid being crushed. Dracaena, Pleomele, larger Aglaonema and neoregelia bromeliads placed in pots concealed in substrate or behind landscape structures will work. When using plants, daytime lighting, preferably compact fluorescent, is recommended.

Heat and light

Horned frogs require daytime temperatures in the upper 70’s to low 80s. This is best provided by a subtank reptile heat pad or heat tape placed under a third or less of the floor of the container. As an alternative you can use a red incandescent bulb in a reflector type fixture.

Water and Feeding


Clean Water should always be available in a shallow container


Froglets should be started on 3 week old vitamin/mineral dusted crickets and after three weeks switched to 5-6 week dusted crickets. By the time they reach 2 inches, they should also be offered live feeder fish such as goldfish and minnows, or pink mice with their rumps dipped in calcium carbonate. Adults will eat feeder goldfish and pre-killed mice. Juveniles should be fed daily, subadults up to three times a week, and adults every week to ten days. Metabolic bone disease from failure to dust insects with a vitamin/mineral supplement is a common cause of death in froglets or of skeletal deformities, notably of the lower jaw.