Budgett’s Frog Care
Budgett’s frog care offers a fascinating and rewarding experience and is for intermediate and advanced keepers. These characterful frogs are a popular choice, but the demands of their care need to be kept in mind.
Also know as hippo frogs due to their habit of lurking underwater waiting for prey, these intelligent, inquisitive amphibians can be fascinating to observe. Here is our complete care guide for the Budgett’s frog.
Quick reference section
- Experience level: Intermediate to advanced
- Scientific name: Lepidobatrachus laevis
- Family: Ceratophryidae
- Alternate names: Hippo frog, Freddy Krueger frog
- Size and weight: Female Budgett’s frogs are usually bigger than males. Specimens range from 3.5 inches up to 6 inches. A fully-grown adult will weigh around half a pound, meaning Budgett frogs are quite hefty for their size.
- Lifespan: Budgett frogs can live as many as 15 to 20 years if kept properly.
- Diet: Budgett frogs are nocturnal carnivores, usually feeding on anything smaller than them like other frogs, insects, snails, and sometimes small mammals.
- Conservation status: Least concern
- Books: Horned Frogs: Plus Budgett’s Frogs by Philippe De
- Where to buy?: https://www.joshsfrogs.com/ or https://www.gotreptiles.com/
Interesting facts about Budgett frogs
The Budgett frog is named British zoologist John Samuel Budgett, who discovered the species in South America in 1899. They are strong swimmers, and also have a reputation as cannibalistic opportunists!
What does a Budgett Frog look like?
Budgett frogs have a flat, amusing appearance. Their eyes protrude from the top of their heads, which take up almost half of their body. They have short, stubby legs.
Colouring varies between greenish brown and pinkish grey, with white or cream undersides. Their smooth skin often has darker blotches ringed with orange colouring.
Where can Budgett frogs be found?
Budgett frogs are widespread across the Gran Chaco region of South America, mainly in Paraguay, Bolivia, and parts of Argentina.
What kind of habitat?
Budgett frogs inhabit dryish forests, but during seasonal floods they gather around shallow breeding pools. In the winter, they enter a dormant state in a cocoon of shed skin until the warm rains come back.
What does the Budgett frog eat?
Budgett frogs hunt by submerging themselves almost completely underwater, with just their eyes poking out, and wait for their prey to pass. Then they lunge and swallow victims whole.
They mainly eat anything smaller than them, including insects, other frogs, snails, and sometimes small mammals.
How do Budgett frogs breed?
In just one mating session, a female Budgett frog can lay almost 1400 eggs. These eggs then hatch in small pools brought by the rainy season. The tadpoles develop rapidly and reach sexual maturity in about a year.
Budgett frog tadpoles are unique because they are carnivorous cannibals when they hatch, and often eat their unhatched brethren.
What predators do Budgett frogs face?
In the Gran Chaco region, several species may prey on Budgett frogs, ranging from lizards like the South American ground lizard, to snakes like the Yellow Anaconda. When faced with such predators, Budgett frogs may attempt to bite or rear up on their hind legs.
Where can I buy?
Budgett frogs require around a 20 to 30 gallon tank. Half of their tank needs to have enough water for them to swim and submerge in (up to 12 inches). This water should be dechlorinated and kept clean.
For substrate, avoid gravel or sand as the frogs can easily ingest it. In the dry half of the tank, aim to use organic potting soil. This also provides somewhere for them to dig when it’s time for their winter dormancy. There should be enough to fully cover them.
A glass or plastic enclosure that opens from the front can allow for easy feeding. Only keep one Budgett’s frog in each tank, as they can sometimes be cannibalistic.
The water in your Budgett frogs tank should be kept clean, so a good filter is an absolute must as Budgett frogs can produce a lot of waste. Aim for an internal or external power filter. Siphon waste out immediately and partially change the water in the tank.
Keep the water temperature between 77 and 82 Fahrenheit. Cold water will make your frog more susceptible to illnesses and is cause for concern.
Make sure any heater you use is securely attached, so the frog can’t dislodge it by swimming. An aquarium heater with a thermostat included is your best bet.
Budgett frogs prefer higher levels of humidity. A substrate of organic potting soil or a mix of materials like peat and sedge or sphagnum moss helps keep moisture in the tank. Aim for 60-70% humidity.
Budgett frogs don’t require any specific specialist lighting. However, a 12 hour day/night cycle will benefit your frog. Use a low wattage fluorescent tube light, ideally one made for freshwater aquariums.
Large rocks, logs, or things like terracotta pots make ideal accessories for your frog’s enclosure. Provide some form of resting place both under the water and in their dry section.
Suitable plants include Amazon sword (Echinodorus Grisebachii) or Java fern (Lleptochilus Pteropus), but any relatively hardy aquarium plants will work.
Make sure any decorations or ornaments are too big for your frog to swallow.
Use mainly live food for your Budgett frog. Insects such as cockroaches, locusts, and de-shelled snails are ideal. Do not use insects caught in the wild as these may carry pesticides or parasites.
Take care when feeding your frog. Budgett frogs are aggressive and will lunge for food. Drop live food either on the water’s surface or on the land section. For small food, feed your frog 2 to 3 times per week.
For variety, you can occasionally use prawns or small, hairless dead rodents. When feeding your frog a big meal like this, wait until they pass waste before feeding them again. This can be as long as two weeks.
Every other week, dust one meal with supplements such as calcium and multivitamins. It’s easy for Budgett frogs to overeat, so make sure your pet is always longer than it is wide.
Temperament and handling
Do not touch or handle your Budgett frog unless it’s an emergency. Budgett frogs are aggressive and easily threatened. They will rear up when confronted, puffing themselves up to look bigger.
Budgett frogs have a tendency to scream and bite when in danger. They have a strong grip and can draw blood. That said, if you simply observe them, they can be fascinating and active creatures to watch.
In the wild, Budgett frogs will aestivate during the winter. In captivity, this means digging under their substrate and cocooning themselves in dead skin. You should encourage and facilitate this.
When time, gradually lower the air temperature whilst increasing feeding for two weeks. This builds your frogs fat reserves. Stop feeding after two weeks, and your frog should aestivate after a few days. Aestivation lasts for two to three months.
Signs of good health
Your Budgett frog should be active and inquisitive. Skin should always be smooth and have no flaky areas. Your frog should be eager to feed and have a large appetite.
Your frog should also regularly move between the land and water parts of its enclosure, and it should react strongly if it feels threatened.
Budgett frogs can overeat easily, and are susceptible to obesity. Make sure your frog is always longer than it is wide. Also make sure that nothing in the enclosure is small enough to swallow.
They are highly sensitive to pesticides, chemicals, and can also suffer fungal infections if the humidity is too high. White or flaky bits of skin indicate a fungal infection.
Some red flags to keep an eye out for include; not eating, staying constantly in the water, irregular waste times, holding arms and legs tight against the body, and closed eyes.
If feeding your Budgett frog any frozen fish-based food, be sure to warm the food and then cool it before serving. This eliminates any thiaminase enzymes, which can otherwise affect the necessary levels of Vitamin B1 your frog needs.
Video of a Budgett’s frog in tank
The below video is a video of a Budgett’s frogs enclosure. There is also a point where the care taker feeds the frog with some tweezers which is pretty cool to see.
Budgett’s frog care can be an incredibly rewarding and fun experience! These frogs have a bold, inquisitive and active nature. They are fascinating to watch and have an endearing, funny appearance.
However, these frogs are not recommended for novice keepers. They require correct knowledge regarding their tank setup, as well as their winter dormancy. They are also not meant to be handled.