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Pixie Frog (AKA Giant African Bullfrog)

Giant African Bullfrog Or Pixie Frog (Pyxicephalus adspersus) Care

The Giant African Bullfrog is a species of frog also known as the Pixie Frog due to its scientific name. It is found mostly in open grasslands at low elevations in the sub-Saharan African countries: Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and possibly the Democratic Republic of Congo.

They are one of the most adaptable amphibians on earth. And, they are capable of tolerating some of Africa’s harshest environments.

Quick Reference Section

  • Experience level:  Beginner
  • Family: Pyxicephalidae
  • Scientific Name: Pyxicephalus adspersus
  • Size:  It is the second-largest frog species (the largest being the Goliath Frog, Conraua goliath). The males reach lengths of more than 9 inches and weigh up to 1.4 kg (3.1lb) and the females are half the size of males (a kind of sexual dimorphism which is unusual in amphibian species, since normally females are larger than males)
  • Lifespan: They live a long time with an average lifespan of 15 to 20 years. But, it is not unusual that they live over 30 years in captivity
  • Habits: Nocturnal
  • Predators: Turtles and monitor lizards prey on bullfrog tadpoles. Birds are the most likely predators of adult African Bullfrogs. People also hunt and eat African Bullfrogs
  • Prey: Bull Frogs prey on many harmful species such as termites, one of the biggest threats to buildings and infrastructure, and the ugly hookworms
  • Conservation status: Least Concern
  • Why choose a Giant African Bullfrog as a pet: It looks great and has an astonishing size for a frog. Also, it is a hardy species and it is easy to care for
  • Book: Giant African Bullfrogs: Life History and Captive Husbandry

What Does A Giant African Bullfrog Look Like

Giant African Bullfrog
Giant African Bullfrog also known as the Pixie Frog (pyxicephalus adspersus) in South Africa

Giant African Bullfrog has interesting coloring, typically green with a golden color where their legs meet their body. Their underbelly is often white or lighter.

Giant African Bullfrog Reproduction

The males will congregate in large groups. The larger males push, pursue, bite, and even consume smaller males before they call out for females.

The call lasts about a second and can be described as a low-pitched whoop. The females will hear this call and swim underwater to the center of the group toward the large males. Females avoid smaller males.  

Amplexus occurs in shallow water to allow the pair to stand on the bottom.


Mating African giant bullfrogs
Mating African giant bullfrogs

For the hobbyist, breeding these frogs in captivity is very difficult.

Egg Laying

The female lays about 3,000 to 4,000 eggs at a time. Eggs are laid in the shallow edge of the pond. But, fertilization takes place above water.

Egg Hatching

Tadpoles emerge the second day after eggs are laid.

Tadpoles Development  

During the tadpole’s development, the father guards his young. This male behavior is a rarity among amphibians.

The male will even continue to guard the tadpoles until they are old enough to feed for themselves. Although he may also eat some of them. Metamorphosis will take place in 3 weeks.

Giant African Bullfrog Habitat

Enclosure Requirements

Giant African Bullfrogs need at least a 40-gallon enclosure per frog. Frogs must be housed separately because they can become cannibalistic if housed together.


To clean the enclosure you can use TetraFauna AquaSafe Reptile & Amphibian Water Conditioner.


They need an enclosure with a warm side, with ideal temperature of 80°F to 85°F. This is best accomplished using an under-tank heating pad. 

You can use Zacro Reptile Heat Pad or VIVOSUN Reptile Heating Pad.


The tank must be misted once or twice a day. Clean water should be provided in a water dish for them to soak in.


In the wild, they live mostly buried in the earth and do not get much, if any, UVB rays.  Therefore, enclosures do not need any UVB lighting.


African Bullfrogs are voracious carnivores. They love to eat and rarely go off their food.

They will eat a wide variety of food including crickets, earthworms, silkworms, wax worms, Dubia roaches, and even small mice.

Additionally, they will eat pelleted and canned food. They can easily become overweight.

Temperament & Handling

Pixie Frog Handling
Pixie frog (Giant African Bullfrog) being held in 2 hands.

Every Giant African Bullfrog has a different personality and some won’t mind being handled. On the contrary, others can become easily scared and act defensively.

When stressed or handled they emit a loud croaking and a bleating sound.  They have big teeth and might mistake your fingers as food and bite regardless of how tame they may be. 

Health Concerns

In general, the majority of diseases of amphibians maintained in captivity will relate directly or indirectly to husbandry and management. This is partly due to the high permeability of their skin.

They are very susceptible to toxic insult, and a variety of chemicals may be problematic in wild or captive animals. 

Some of the more common amphibian diseases with bacterial etiologies include bacterial dermatosepticemia or “red leg syndrome,” flavobacteriosis, mycobacteriosis, and chlamydiosis.

The most common viral diseases of amphibians are caused by the ranaviruses. Mycotic and mycotic-like organisms cause several diseases among amphibians, including chytridiomycosis, zygomycoses, chromomycoses, saprolegniasis, and ichthyophoniasis.

Protozoan parasites of amphibians include a variety of amoeba, ciliates, flagellates, and sporozoans.

Common metazoan parasites include various myxozoans, helminths (particularly trematodes and nematodes), and arthropods.

Commonly encountered non-infectious disease etiologies for neoplasia, absolute or specific nutritional deficiencies or overloads, chemical toxicities, and inadequate husbandry or environmental management.  

Dietary Problems

African bullfrog in the mud with open mouth
African bullfrog in the mud with open mouth

Of the specific dietary problems that affect amphibians, some of the more commonly encountered challenges are the vitamin and mineral imbalances related to metabolic bone disease.

Specifically, these imbalances include the failure to ingest or adequately process vitamin D3, calcium, or phosphorus to maintain them in the proper ratios.

In addition, elevated levels of vitamin A may also interfere with the normal metabolism of vitamin D and contribute to metabolic bone disease.

However, most often the metabolic bone disease is caused by low levels of calcium or improper calcium: phosphorus ratios in the insect prey ( Wright and Whitaker 2001 ).

Many insects used as food or prey, including mealworms, waxworms, earthworms, and fruit flies, have low levels of calcium or imbalanced calcium: phosphorus ratios ( Barker et al. 1998 ).

It is possible to correct this calcium deficiency by feeding the insects calcium-rich food or by dusting the insects with a calcium-rich powder.

Source: Diseases of Amphibians Christine L. Densmore, David Earl Green ILAR Journal, Volume 48, Issue 3, 2007, Pages 235–254,

Signs Of A Healthy Giant African Bullfrog

  • Swims actively
  • Hides often
  • Eats vigorously
  • Clear eyes and smooth skin
  • Remains in the bottom half of the aquarium

Red Flags

  • Loss of appetite
  • Hazy or cloudy eyes
  • Does not swim away from capture
  • Floating on the top of the aquarium
  • Bloating
  • Weight loss

Pixie Frog Facts

To combat the dry and hot seasons, the Giant African Bullfrog digs underground and cocoons itself for around 3 months (and up to almost 9 months). It then secretes a cool gelatinous substance off its back in the process, remaining this way until the start of the next rainy season.

Price and Availability

The pet trade is supplied by captive-bred and wild-caught specimens. Giant African Bullfrogs are available at $34.99 at Josh’s Frogs

Interesting Video On Giant African Bullfrog


The Pixie frog is one of our top frogs when it comes to choosing one as a pet. They are easy to care for, not picky eaters, and just look cool.

Other cool frogs which also make great pets include the Tomato Frog, Whites Tree Frog, and of course the dart frog. Be sure to check out our best pet frogs article to see all of our favorites!

What frog do you own or plan on getting? What made you choose that or them? We love hearing from you so let us know in the comments below!

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