Ceratophrys ornata and related species


An adult horned frog (4-6 inches snout to vent) may be comfortably kept in a plastic sweater box or ten gallon aquarium. No substrate is necessary if you are interested solely in maintenance. If a display is desired, large bark nuggets to a depth of several inches (depending on how much you want your frog to bury itself) work well; likewise large smooth stones are too large to be ingested with a prey item.


De-chlorinated, filtered, or spring water should be used. Tap water can be de-chlorinated either chemically or by boiling or letting it stand overnight in an open container. Amphibians do not drink water, they absorb it through their skin, therefore a water dish should be provided that is large enough for the animal to easily get in and out of. The simplest caging/water arrangement is to tilt a bare cage such that an inch of water

pools at the lower end. Water should be changed every other day, or as soon as it is soiled.


Horned frogs tolerate a temperature range from 70 to 90 degrees F. At the lower end, feed less frequently and offer smaller amounts. The preferred range is 75 to 80 degrees F.


Horned frogs will eat mice, goldfish, earthworms - just about anything that moves in their presence. An adult frog should be fed no more than a medium-sized mouse or two large feeder goldfish per week. They are always hungry, however feeding ad libitum will result in an extremely overweight animal that will probably not remain healthy long. Food may be offered live or, if dead, dangled with forceps. When feeding mice, freshly killed or thawed is recommended as it is safer for the frog and more humane for the mouse.


Frogs will occasionally appear puffed up for a short period and undergo spastic movements with their hind legs, scraping them over their body - this is normal shedding behavior. The animal will soon remove its outer skin in this fashion and briefly be covered with a clear slime which soon disappears. A horned frog that is listless and lacks appetite (and is not in a cold environment) should be cause for concern. Always examine water quality first, then air quality (airborne contaminants can settle in the water or directly on the animal), then food quality. A bacterial infection known as “red-leg” will sometimes affect frogs. It is characterized by a reddening of the underside of the frog’s belly and/or hind legs, and if not treated is usually fatal. Consult a veterinarian for antibiotics and dosages. Don’t use disinfectants; traces of them remaining in the cage could harm or kill your frog. Wash the cage with warm water and a small amount of mild dish soap. Rinse thoroughly and dry completely to remove any traces of chlorine from the tap water.


These animals should not be handled except for physical examinations and moving the animal. All amphibians have a permeable skin that is sensitive to toxins. Quite often, in the course of a day, one’s hands can become covered with numerous substances that are poisonous to a frog (hair spray, insecticides, chalk, ink, disinfectants, soaps, etc.) - be certain to thoroughly wash your hands before handling the animal. Grasp the frog firmly by both thighs in one hand and support the body with the other hand underneath the belly. Avoid holding the frog by the legs alone (could break bones) or by the body (squeezing too hard could result in internal damage). Always approach from the rear!