If you love the idea of owning a pet frog but hate the thought of having to handle live bugs, there are a few frog species that might be a good fit for you.
In short, all frogs will eat bugs if given the opportunity. However, aquatic frogs like the African Dwarf Frog and the African Clawed Frogs can do well in captivity without eating bugs.
These two species can survive on pellet food or frozen meals. In addition, large adult frogs can survive without eating bugs if they are provided with an alternative source of nutrition, like frozen mice.
In this article, we’ll explore what frogs eat and the most viable alternatives to eating bugs!
Can frogs survive without eating bugs?
Frogs are considered carnivores, not insectivores. This means that frogs can survive without eating bugs, but only if they are getting the necessary nutrients from another source of prey.
Most frogs are ambush predators. They will sit and wait for unsuspecting prey to cross their path, and then they will suddenly attack, or ambush, their prey.
With these tactics, a frog will attack any available prey.
In the wild
In the wild, most environments are teeming with insects, making them a natural food source for terrestrial, arboreal, and aquatic frogs.
Frogs will eat just about any prey that they can fit in their mouths; they’re not picky. So, if bugs are available, then the frogs in the area will undoubtedly be eating them.
Sometimes, bugs can be scarce in an environment, or other food sources can be more readily available.
In these cases, frogs have been known to eat worms, small rodents, fish, and even birds. Though, only large frogs can successfully attack and eat larger prey.
In captivity, frogs have a significantly less diverse menu than their wild counterparts.
Most frog owners will offer live insects to their frogs as a primary source of nutrition. But does it have to be that way?
While crickets and other bugs are popular food sources for pet frogs, there are certainly other options.
As long as a pet frog receives a food source that it is willing to eat and that meets its nutritional requirements, bugs are not necessary for captive frogs to survive.
The caveat, however, is that not many frog species fit these requirements.
This is because most frogs are not willing to eat dead or non-moving prey like frozen meals, freeze-dried meals, or food pellets.
In the wild, non-moving prey is likely dead, rotten, disease-ridden, or unhealthy for one reason or another. As a result, a frog’s natural instinct is typically to only eat live prey.
However, there are some exceptions. Some frog species are more accepting of non-moving food sources.
Three frog species that do not need to eat bugs
Some aquatic frogs behave more like scavengers than ambush predators.
Since aquatic frogs live entirely underwater, their hunting habits are markedly different from terrestrial or arboreal frogs.
Scavengers are more likely to eat non-moving prey that floats past them in the water.
African Dwarf Frogs
African Dwarf Frogs are aquatic frogs that live entirely underwater.
This frog species is better suited to eat foods like frozen bloodworms, freeze-dried brine shrimp, live blackworms, or food pellets that sink to the bottom of the tank.
This makes African Dwarf Frogs an ideal choice for pet owners who do not want to handle crickets or other live bugs.
If you own an African Dwarf Frog or are thinking of getting one, you should select food sources that can stay underwater without disintegrating too quickly. When food disintegrates before the frog can eat it, it will make the tank much dirtier.
Live blackworms are a stimulating meal, given that they are alive.
They can also hide in the rocks at the bottom of a tank and serve as a food source over the course of a week or until your frog has eaten them all.
If you don’t want to handle worms, then African Dwarf Frogs are typically completely content with frozen meals, freeze-dried meals, or food pellets.
If you opt for food pellets, you will want to select pellets that will sink to the bottom of the tank, since that will be where your frog spends most of its time.
African Clawed Frogs
Another species of aquatic frog is the African Clawed Frog. This species is sometimes confused with the African Dwarf frog, but they are distinct species.
The African Clawed Frog is named for its clawed feet. This is a way you can tell the difference between the two species.
Like the African Dwarf Frog, African Clawed Frogs can survive in captivity without eating bugs.
They live entirely underwater and are willing to eat dead or dying arthropods, insect larvae, small fish, worms, and snails.
African Clawed Frogs are also typically willing to eat food pellets and frozen bloodworms if you want to avoid handling live prey altogether.
With any aquatic frog, you will want to be careful to avoid overfeeding. When uneaten food accumulates in the tank, it creates a dirty, unhealthy environment for the frog.
Pacman Frogs are some of the largest pet frogs on the market.
When these frogs are full-grown adults, they can eat large prey like frozen mice. You will want to warm the frozen mice before feeding them to your frog.
As carnivores, Pacman Frogs can be kept happy and healthy without bugs as long as they receive a substantial diet that involves another food source.
For some people, the idea of feeding mice might seem worse than feeding live bugs, but for others, the fact that frozen mice won’t move or crawl around is good enough.
If you have a Pacman Frog or are thinking of getting one, you will want to purchase feeding tongs that are 10-12 inches long.
This will enable you to offer your Pacman food while avoiding the possibility of being bit.
What can I feed my frog besides bugs?
If you plan to keep a pet frog but don’t want to feed them live bugs, you will need to make sure that you are offering the frog a nutritious alternative food source.
Let’s take a look at some of the most common alternatives.
Worms are not technically bugs, even though many people would still consider them “creepy” and “crawly” like most insects.
Worms are easier to feed to a pet frog since they cannot fly and move much more slowly than most insects. They are also an excellent source of nutrition.
Worms are also quieter and easier to handle than crickets or live insects, and lots of frog species are willing to eat worms.
If you are willing to handle worms and feed them to your frog, there are plenty of species of frogs that you could keep, well above and beyond the three species listed above.
Most frogs love to eat mealworms, waxworms, super worms, butter worms, earthworms, and phoenix worms.
The size of the worm should correlate with the size of the frog. If you feed a small frog too large of a worm, it could clog up their digestive tract or simply be inedible for the frog.
You can purchase frozen foods for your frog at almost any pet store. Most stores will have frozen bloodworms, frozen shrimp, or frozen tubifex worms available.
If you purchase frozen food, you will need to make sure that your frog species is willing to eat dead prey.
Frozen food is not sufficient for terrestrial or arboreal frogs, but it can be a suitable staple for aquatic frogs like the two species listed above.
Live or frozen mice can make a good meal for large frogs like Pacman Frogs or African Bullfrogs.
Most frogs will not like the ice-cold sensation of frozen prey, so you will want to warm frozen mice until they are at least room temperature.
To do this, you can thaw the mice in a ziplock bag in your refrigerator over the course of 2-4 hours.
After that, you can run the closed bag under warm water to bring the temperature of the mouse up to room temperature.
By offering your frog mice, you can avoid handling live bugs. Typically, mice will keep your frog fuller for longer, so more time can pass between feedings as well.
Small fish can be a tasty treat for frogs, especially aquatic species. Like bugs, small fish’ natural movement and activity will attract the frog, prompting their instincts to kick in.
If you are interested in offering your frog fish as a meal, guppy fry is a good option.
What if my frog only wants to eat bugs?
If you find that your frog refuses to eat any alternative food sources, you will have to start offering your frog bugs as a primary food source.
The last thing you want is for your frog to starve. If you really struggle with handling live bugs, have a friend or family member help you during feeding time.
Over time, if it doesn’t get any easier for you, you may need to look into rehoming your frog with someone who is more comfortable handling bugs.
The best option for pet owners who want to avoid bugs altogether would be to get an aquatic frog!