All frogs are predators, despite their cute looks and jumpy personalities. They have a diet that consists only of meat and eat prey such as fish, insects, worms, and even other frogs.
Frogs are voracious eaters and will eat anything they can fit into their mouths.
A frog’s tongue can snatch prey in less than 150 milliseconds. That is around the same time it takes for a human to blink! This helps them to catch very fast-moving prey like insects and fish.
Want to learn more about how and what do frogs eat?
Keep reading as we share interesting facts about their diets and what you should be feeding them…
What Do Frogs Eat?
Frogs will eat any living prey that is small enough to fit in their mouth. All species of frogs are strictly carnivorous so they only eat meat. Depending on the species, this may include:
- Water beetles
- Small fish and vertebrates
- Small snakes
- Other frogs
The one thing that every frog has in common is that they only eat live prey.
Frogs are a very diverse group of amphibians with approximately 7,400 different species that make up nearly 88% of all amphibian species. They come in many different shapes and sizes and have varied diets depending on the role they play in the environment.
Their diet is strongly influenced by their lifestyle and natural range. This is mostly because different prey items are available to them depending on where they live.
Frogs can be either arboreal (live in trees), terrestrial (live on land), fossorial (live underground), aquatic, or semiaquatic.
Arboreal species are ones that live most of their lives in trees. These frogs are typically small and eat insects such as flies, ants, moths, and crickets.
These species generally have very long tongues that can spring out of their mouths in milliseconds.
Most frogs that live on land are called terrestrial. They spend the majority of their life on the ground at floor level. They are typically larger than arboreal species, but they vary greatly in their size depending on their role in their ecosystem.
Many terrestrial species are ambush predators that camouflage and strike unsuspecting prey. A good example of this is the famous Pacman frog. Other species chase and catch their prey with long sticky tongues. These frogs eat a variety of different prey such as spiders (e.g. tarantulas), small vertebrates (e.g. mice) and other frogs species.
The most elusive of species are the fossorial ones that live underground.
Most fossorial species are very difficult to study because they live most of their lives underground.
One of the most well-known fossorial species is the African bullfrog. They create cocoons underground to prevent the loss of moisture. When they are not hibernating, they hunt for large prey. These frogs eat just about anything, including juvenile snakes and fish.
Finally, there are semiaquatic and aquatic species. These are species that live near or in the water after reaching adulthood.
These frogs have a unique diet compared to land-based species as they mostly eat fish!
One of the most popular aquatic species is the African dwarf frog. These frogs eat and catch mostly small fish, crustacean and aquatic insects, and even tadpoles. However they will not eat fish eggs as they prefer for their food to be alive and moving. This is true of all species.
What Do Pet Frogs Eat?
One of the main aspects that nearly all pet frogs share is that they should only eat live prey that cannot harm them. Many times this means live insects are fed with feeder forceps to avoid injury. An example of this is when tarantulas are fed to large pet species.
Pet frogs mostly eat feeder insects such as crickets, but will also eat small vertebrates and earthworms. Some of the most popular insects fed to frogs are:
Some frogs can be fed frozen-thawed insects with forceps. The movement of the dead insect from the forceps can attract them to eat it. However many experts say feeding live insects is best.
Most of the popular insects fed to frogs are readily available at local pet stores.
For owners looking to diversify their frog’s diet insects like fruit flies and earthworms are good treats.
Some species like clawed frogs can tolerate being fed a pellet diet supplemented by live food. There are some good commercial frog food pellets, but we wouldn’t recommend only feeding pellets.
Frogs are very prone to drastic weight gain and weight loss from an imbalanced diet. They should be fed a diet that is suitable for their species. Feeding a pet frog with an optimal diet for their health and proper growth is tricky. Dr. Emi Knafo says this is “because frogs are so diverse, there is no ‘one size fits all’ feeding program.”
For beginners who may not know how to feed a frog, there are many great places where you can start.
You should start by understanding what size insect to feed.
If you have a small or juvenile species, you should start by feeding wingless fruit flies and pinhead crickets. Juveniles should be fed 7-10 insects at least twice a day.
Once they are older, they can be fed once every day.
It is not difficult to find a feeding routine that your frog will enjoy while providing all the essential nutrients they need. Sometimes you will notice that they may not finish eating and you can adjust their diet accordingly.
Once you can develop a feeding schedule that keeps them healthy, you can begin feeding other insects. Some great options include beetles, different worm species, and spiders.
Remember to never feed a frog insects that are wild-caught. Wild-caught insects may contain trace amounts of pesticides or heavy metals that can cause illness.
It is also important to provide additional supplements when feeding frogs, just like you would when feeding a toad.
Frogs cannot naturally produce Vitamin A. The best way of supplementing these vitamins is by properly gut-loading insects prior to feeding.
Gut-loading is the process of feeding insects foods that are high in vitamins and minerals 24-hours before being fed to your frog. Some of the best vegetables to gut-load insects with include sweet potato, kale, or squash.
Depending on the species, pet frogs may need very specific diets. Because of the idea that not one size fits all, it is important to determine which food work best. Below, we share some of the most common frog species and their diets.
Tree Frog Diet
Tree frogs are one of the most diverse groups of frogs in the world.
Some of the most common species include the white-lipped (Nyctimystes infrafrenatus), the waxy monkey (Phyllomedusa sauvagii), and the green tree frog (Dryophytes cinereus).
The main group of tree frogs is the Hylidae family. These arboreal species are generally lightweight and have developed padded discs on their toes that allow them to hold onto tree trunks, branches, and leaves. This allows them to hang on to loose structures like leaves.
Tree frogs do not eat large prey like terrestrial species. Instead, they typically eat smaller insects like butterflies and moths, worms, flies, spiders, and ants.
Most tree frogs should be fed similar diets:
- Waxy monkeys are best fed a maximum of 8 feeder insects once every 2 days. These species are best fed around dusk or nighttime when they are most active.
- Feed green tree frogs as many insects as they will eat in a 15-minute period every 5 days.
- White-lipped species should be fed 8 to 10 feeder insects every 2 to 3 days.
- Smaller tree frog species and juveniles should be fed pinhead-sized crickets and fruit flies. Small and quick insects improve their hunting instincts. Insects give them a great enrichment activity along with a tasty meal.
For most tree frogs it is recommended to only feed them as many insects as they will eat in a 15-minute period.
The main component of any tree frog’s diet should be gut-loaded crickets.
Crickets are typically the best insect for pet frogs. These insects provide them with all the nutrients they need. Other insects that are popular to feed include grasshoppers, moths, roaches, and different types of worms.
You may decide you want to feed them different insects throughout the week.
African Dwarf Frog Diet
African dwarf frogs are arguably one of the most popular aquatic pet frogs.
These frogs have evolved for a life underwater. This makes their diet different from most species. They eat a variety of different arthropods including:
African dwarfs have also been known to eat small fish whenever invertebrates are not available.
If you choose to keep dwarf frogs with fish, always make sure that you are feeding them all sufficiently. If not, your pet frog may make a meal out of your pet fish.
Pet dwarf frogs have a unique diet because they do not require live food. Instead, they can be fed a mixture of aquatic frog food and frozen brine shrimp. Their feeding schedule should be an even split of commercial food and frozen meals.
Some of the best frozen meals available for dwarf frogs include bloodworm, brine shrimp, krill, and beef heart.
There are a lot of strategies that must go into feeding these aquatic frogs. To start with, they have very poor vision and cannot easily locate their food. Because of this, it is recommended to leave their food in the same corner of the tank each time you feed them.
African dwarfs are also bottom feeders. This means they rarely come to the surface to feed. Frog food that is dropped in a tank will often eaten by the fish before it can even get to the bottom. Because of this, it is recommended to use a turkey baster to deliver frog food directly to the bottom.
Poison Dart Frog Diet
Poison dart frogs are unique because they get their poison from their diet.
Alkaloids move through the food chain and eventually provide poison dart frogs with their lethal toxins.
Wild poison dart frogs eat ants and other insects that have recently eaten fungi and plants with alkaloids in. The toxins that are produced on the skin of this species are not naturally produced, unless they have that exact diet.
Poison darts that are not fed a diet with alkaloids will not develop any form of toxicity on their skin.
It is not possible to feed them ants from South America’s rainforests. The next best diet is a combination of fruit flies, pinhead crickets and different worms.
These frogs can acquire all the nutrients they need to stay healthy from typical feeder insects. Gut-load feeder insects are the best diet for them. The toxic alkaloids they get in the wild are only used to deter predators. A diet where they cannot get these toxins will not harm them.
Like most frogs, and some geckos, this species is strictly insectivorous. You should not feed them any form of vegetables or fruits.
What Do Wild Frogs Eat?
Wild frogs have been known to eat scorpions, venomous spiders, and even juvenile venomous snakes. If a hungry frog stumbles upon any prey in the wild, they will not hesitate to eat.
This is the major difference between pet and wild frog’s diets.
Wild frogs eat animals that could potentially harm them. In captivity, an owner is never going to feed a pet frog a venomous spider or a dangerous snake.
As long as it is moving and fits in their mouth, a wild frog will eat it.
Wild species need to hunt and use their strategic advantages to find their next meal.
Some of the best adaptations that frogs have evolved to catch prey include their fast inverted tongues, extremely sticky saliva, powerful legs, and, in some cases, camouflage.
One thing that wild frogs will not eat is dead prey.
There are no known species that are considered scavengers. Even if it is a dead insect, they will not show it any attention. However frogs will not hesitate to make a free meal out of injured or dying insects. When it comes to living prey, they are not picky eaters!
Wild frogs have evolved to become strictly meat eaters, but there is one known exception.
The Izecksohn’s Brazilian treefrog (Xenohyla truncata) is the only known frugivorous frog. This means that besides eating meat and insects, they are also known to eat fruits and flowers.
Scientists believe that these frogs adapted to eat plant matter to combat food scarcity during certain seasons.
Knowing what frogs eat in the wild is important to understanding how you should adapt your pet frog’s diet. However, it is important to never feed wildlife including frogs. Doing so may lead to unintended harm.
Frogs are unique and make some of the most interesting pets.
However, their diets are just as unique as they are.
Now you know it is not as simple as asking what do frogs eat! Even though all frogs are carnivores, different species need to be fed different diets for a healthy life.
Larger frogs eat rodents, snakes, and big insects. Other smaller species will be happy to eat fruit flies and pinhead crickets.
In general, frogs are fed any insect or small vertebrate that can easily fit in their mouth without causing any obstruction to their digestive system. Prey items provide different nutritional values and should be balanced to ensure your frog gets all the necessary nutrients.
One of the most exciting parts about owning a pet frog is getting to watch them hunt and eat.
If you are feeding your frog and they are healthy, sit back and watch them use their well-adapted tactics to eat a tasty insect.
What’s the most surprising fact you’ve learned about frog diet? Please share it in the comments below!