Common Illness in Pac Man Frogs

Pac Man Frog Health

Horned frogs are generally pretty healthy, but like all animals they can develop illness and get sick. If you are careful of where your purchase your frog, what you feed it, and how you house it, you'll find that in captivity ornate frogs will stay healthy.

You want to make sure you are careful about the enclosure and diet of your horned frog because common illnesses to frogs are typically directly attributed to imporoper housing, improper temperatures, poor quality water, dirty substrate, or vitamin/mineral deficiencies.

The diseases and disorders below are not specific to pacman frogs only. Other frogs and toads can develop blindness, metabolic bone disease, and fungal infections, so if you have other frogs, or you're concerned about another species, these disorders can still apply.

Frog Diseases and Disorders

  • Metabolic Bone Disease

This disorder is very common among captive reptiles and amphibians, causing soft bones and deformities with the skeletal system. If you're not supplementing your frog's food with calcium or calcium + D3, it can develop metabolic bone disease. Signs of the disorder include: droopy lower jaw, failure to grab prey, muscle twitching, listlessness, and backbone and pelvic deformities. You can treat MBD by consistently coating prey with calcium and vitamin D3. If the frog is having problems grabbing prey because its bones are too soft, you'll want to administer calcium + D3 with a syringe via the frog's mouth once every 1-2 days until the bones start to harden.

  • Toxic Out Syndrome

Because frogs absorb water through their skin from the substrate of the water bowl, you want to ensure that the water is changed frequently. If you leave foul water in the water, the toxins can be absorbed by the frog's skin, which can lead to this disorder. Signs of toxic out syndrome include: erratic jumping and spastic extensions of the hind limbs, listlessness, and cloudy eyes. Treatment of toxic out syndrome in frogs is by placing the frog in a shallow water dish of clean water and leaving the frog there. You'll want to replace the water every 4 hours or so until the signs go away. As long as you monitor the enclosure conditions, you can prevent the frog from toxing out.

  • Water Edema Syndrome

The frog will start to swell up because of water retention. In very extreme cases, the frog may feel like a squishy water bag. A damaged lymph heart and kidney disease are common causes of water edema, and to date, there is no information as to prevention for the disorder. You can limit the amount of water that is available, or a vet can release retained water via small incisions at swell sites; but, this can be tedious, and you'll find the end result will be the same.

  • Bacterial Infections

Frogs are regularly exposed to bacterial, but the bacteria is fought off by the immune system. If the frog's body is stressed and the immune system is depressed, the bacterial can invade. Stressful conditions such as foul water, improper temperatures, and overcrowding can depress a frog's immune system, so you want to make sure that you can provide proper husbandry to reduce the risk of stress. Signs of bacterial infections are varied but can include: loss of appetite, listlessness, cloudy eyes, redness on the underside of the belly and the thighs, and excessive skin sloughing with shed skin released in the water. If the disorder goes unnoticed, more extreme neurological signs may be seen. A veterinarian can prescribe antibiotics and/or tetracycline baths. The baths can be more stressful and are generally seen as ineffective.

Red leg is a common bacterial infection that can be rapid and fatal. Foul water, substrate, and low temperatures can cause the onset of the pathogen that causes red leg.

  • Fungal Infection

Fungal infections can infect wounds or scrapes, most common for tadpoles. Fungal infections can be treated topically by removing the frog from the water and daubing mercurochrom, hydrogen peroxide, or malachite green on the are with a cotton ball.

  • Endoparasites

Parasites such as roundworms, tapeworms, and pinworms are common among frogs and toads. You'll find that low levels of endoparasites will not greatly harm the frog, but if you think that your frog has parasites, you'll want to consult a veterinarian to diagnose and treat it before it gets too late. Parasites are transferable if you have multiple frogs in the same enclosure, which is why you want to quarantine new amphibians before introducing them to current pets.

  • Blindness

Blindness is caused by a buildup of lipids on the corneas. It can be caused by a diet that is high in fat, such as by feeding a pinkie mice as a staple diet. There is not a cure for blindness, by you can potentially prevent the disorder by feeding a low-fat diet.

  • Impaction

Depending on what the frog is housed on, it can ingest some of the substrate when trying to grab prey. Small gravel is usually passed in the feces, but large gravel can remain in the intestinal tract causing blockage. You can prevent impaction by housing your ornate frog on alternate substrates such as moist coir (sold in a compressed block that must be soaked in water to expand), moist moss, or foam rubber with a large water container. If your think that your frog is impacted, you can feel the belly, and if there's a hard lump, it's probably substrate that the frog couldn't pass. In most cases, the frog will excrete the substrate over a period of a few weeks, but if the condition persists, you'll want to consult a veterinarian to have it removed.

  • Obesity

Pac man frogs reach larger sizes as adults, but for their size, they require relatively little food to maintain a healthy weight. Most owners try to increase the frog's size by feeding the adult frogs on a juvenile's schedule or by feeding prey that is just too big, but this can be dangerous for the frog's health. Ornate frogs reach full size by about 2-3 years, and after that point, most of the extra food that they consume is converted to fat rather than bone or muscle. The frog will get bigger in width, but you'll be shortening the overall lifespan of the frog. To prevent obesity, you want to follow a feeding schedule.

  • Froglets up to 2 inches: Feed supplemented 3-week old crickets every 1-2 days
  • Froglets up to 2-4 inches: Feed supplemented 3-week old crickets, prekilled pinkie mouse with its bttom dipped in calcium, or supplemented superworms in a shallow dish every 2-3 days.
  • Adult frogs up to 4-5 inches: Feed supplemented crickets or superworms in a shallow dish or a combination of both, nightcrawlers, or a prekilled/weaned mouse every 7-10 days.


Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed veterinarian. The methods outlined above may or may not work for your pet. If you have any concerns, you should consult a veterinarian.

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Comments 18 comments

Erica 10 months ago

ive had my albino pacman for 6months and he's barely grown rarely active he barely eats and refuses to tongue feed and his tank size and temperature is perfect and is always cleaned properly I'm runny out of ideas to try. His belly is really transparent aside from that he looks fine and he's really skinny any ideas?

Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 3 years ago from Georgia Author

I'd definitely suggest having a vet look at it for possible treatment.

Megan 3 years ago

My pacman eye is clearly infected and he Dosent eat much now is there anyway I can help treat his eye?

Kaily 4 years ago

We have a pacman and he is doing fantastic, but there's one at a local pet store housed on aquarium gravel and he's been there for a long time. Today we opened his tank to look at him cause we want to rescue him. Ge is absolutely FULL of neon colored stones! You can see them through his skin. Can he pass all that??

kelly.h. 4 years ago

one more long did u have to leave ur frog in water?? mines trying jump out already but then goes back in &have any of u noticed that what made ur frog sick? i stopped smoking in my house except my culture said that could b it but maybe not..then got to thinking im a perfume wash hands when feed or touch her do u think that could have anything to do with it?i ut it on in bathroom or beedroom dont spray anything nor burn candles anymore ,do any of u noticed that if u do any of these things is that how frog got sick??or did make a dif? cause how am i to clean windows and so on ???????????????????????????????/plz helppppppppp thx again xx

kelly.h 4 years ago

hello..i have a pacman and think he has same thing thr toxic,im bathing her now and shes moving now and jumpin a bit but weird if anyone nose what i mean???? now shes moving lots in the dish is this normal? for anyone that's had to do this???when i put her in she went all weird legs out eyes back,now shes doing the stuff i just explained.sorry went off track..shes now sitting up shes only bin in for 30min...if anyone could help me out that b awesome.thx K.H.

:} WOOO 4 years ago

my pac man frog died i got it for christmas were do u get them usually P.S go to ektones and u see someone ate poison dart frog wat a moron LOL OMG

Sarah 4 years ago

Hi, just wondering if anybody can help, my pacman frog who is about a year has got a lump appeared on side of his face just above corner of his mouth. It is a fluid filled lump, his eyes are still bright and he is eating and active. Just wondered if anyone could help. Many thanks

mark 5 years ago

Can you feed toads to your pacman frog?

Stan 5 years ago

Thanks for the article! I really appreciate it, as well as, I am sure many other Pacman Frog owners.

ike 6 years ago

i think he just had toxic out he seemed dead, laying on his back and not moving and barley breathing. so i did what it said and he is more active now but still seems to have a hard time walking i hope this goes away in time,

Marie 6 years ago

I think my pacman frog is sick and im trearing for toxic out syndrome he looks like hes doing better i have him in a big popcorn bowl with gravel water (and a lid) and a het pad set on low underneath, he scared me earlier he looks all pale and stuff but getting a bit better and better..*sigh* this really helped it may not be the syndrome but ithink either way the detoxing is doing him good

nathan 6 years ago

found this info very helpful thankyou

bat115 profile image

bat115 6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

wow, Pac Man Frogs are real? I thought my friend was just joking about them when I first heard of em about 15 years ago. That's what I get for not doing more research when I was in the 3rd grade. good interesting article here!

RNMSN profile image

RNMSN 7 years ago from Tucson, Az

it isnt any surprise to this mean ole nurse ratchett that every disease you listed can be prevented by hygiene, diet, and environment :) Now....why cant humans learn this?

what a great article whitney!! however, I think I will just leave my frog house in the flower Ethel, I like to watch them in the spring and then when it gets too hot they go hiphiphurrah :) ha I should have said hop hop hurrah :)

ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

This wil be very useful for those with pet frogs. We just have a few wild frogs that live in our garden. In Spring hundreds arrive in the neighbourhood to mate in people's garden ponds.

Waren E profile image

Waren E 7 years ago from HAS LEFT THE BUILDING............

Interesting info, I honestly thought frogs could handle any situation well, providing they had enough food and a wet environment,learned a lot from this hub,Thanks!:)

wesleycox profile image

wesleycox 7 years ago from Back in Texas, at least until August 2012

I never would have imagined that taking care of a frog could be so challenging. That could be why the frog I had when I was twelve died. I think it had Toxic Out Syndrome as you described it above. The frog was jumping around in a weird manner and had cloudy eyes if I remember correctly.

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