How to Care for Your Pixie Frog
Pixie Frogs (Pyxicephalus adspersus) also known as African Giant Bullfrogs are, despite their name, very large (up to 10” for males) terrestrial, nocturnal amphibians native to sub-Saharan Africa. They are medium green, classically frog-shaped and known for their voracious appetites. Males have yellow bellies and the smaller females have cream colored bellies. They often have orange coloring at the shoulder and hip joints. They are best housed individually since they can be cannibalistic. Although they are liable to bite and do not tolerate much handling, Pixie Frogs are considered to be a beginner level pet.
A 10 (10”x20”x12”) to 20 (30”x12”x12”) gallon tank or equivalent sized plastic tub is considered adequate for a Pixie Frog, as they are known to be quite sedentary. A very large male may require a larger enclosure and would do well in a 40 gallon (36”x18”x18”) tank. Although Pixie Frogs don’t climb, it’s important that the enclosure have a lid to keep other animals or curious children out. In order to provide the high humidity needed, coco-fiber or mulch substrate is preferred, though some Pixie Frogs are kept on moist paper towels. The substrate and cage should be kept moist rather than soaking wet through judicious misting and humidity levels of 60-80% should be maintained. It should be deep enough for the frog to bury itself if desired. There is a difference of opinion among keepers as to whether the Pixie requires hiding places so the frog can feel safe. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to provide some; they should be just big enough to accommodate the frog. A water dish large enough to hold the entire frog should be included. Some keepers choose to create a habitat that has a land and a pond area but this is not required. The water in the bowl should be appropriately dechlorinated and kept clear of feces or other items that can foul it. Water conditioner products designed for turtle enclosures will work well for treating tap water. Distilled water should not be used. It is difficult to keep Pixie Frogs in a bioactive setup due to their sensitivity to ammonia, mold and fungi as well as their copious droppings. Keepers who choose particle substrate will need to clean and disinfect regularly.
Heating and Lighting
Since Pixie Frogs are nocturnal and can easily dehydrate, a low level of lighting is recommended. This can be accomplished through ambient lighting, use of a purple or blue nocturnal bulb, or, if the enclosure is on the tall side, a low intensity (5.0) florescent light. Pixie Frogs are most comfortable at a temperature range of 72-85 with a nighttime drop to the low to mid 70’s. Most of the year they can be maintained at room temperature without additional heat. In climates where additional heat is necessary, it’s best achieved with an under tank heater (UTH). A UTH will require a thermostat or a rheostat to regulate the temperature.
Food and Supplementation
Pixie Frogs will eat anything they can fit in their mouths. They primarily eat a variety of bugs and worms, including but not limited to mealworms, crickets, silkworms, hornworms, super worms, Dubia and other roaches. They may be fed small mice on occasion, though this should not be a frequent occurrence since they are high in fat. Pixie Frogs’ feeding “strategy” is to wait for the feeder to approach them, at which time they open their huge mouths to ingest it. Consequently, they are generally attracted only to live food. Most Pixie Frogs in the United States are fed a staple diet of mealworms, crickets or Dubia roaches. Young frogs can start with ¼” crickets or Dubia roaches, or small mealworms and progress to full-sized mealworms and crickets, and adult Dubia roaches. As mentioned above, Pixie Frogs will thrive on a variety of other bugs and worms including small superworms, hornworms, silkworms, NutriGrubs (black soldier fly larvae, also known as phoenix worms), and locusts. Care should be taken to feed appropriate sized prey and not to leave prey in the enclosure for long periods of time.
Pixie Frogs require calcium to build strong bones, vitamin D3 to metabolize the calcium and a variety of other vitamins and minerals. Especially if full spectrum lighting with UVB is not provided, they will receive these vitamins and minerals through powdered supplements, which are commercially available. Dust their prey twice a week with calcium, vitamin D3 and other vitamins.
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. If you are new to Pixie Frogs, please do additional research to obtain additional information from more detailed care sheets.