The African bullfrog (Pyxicephalus adspersus) has a few things in common with its American namesake, notably size -- both are pretty hefty frogs. They are separate species with different care requirements. African bullfrogs, with their solid bulk and sullen appearance, look particularly intimidating. Indeed they tend to be aggressive to each other, so one per habitat is enough.
Unusual for frogs, male African bullfrogs are bigger than females. Males reach lengths of 9 inches, whereas females don't usually grow beyond 6 inches. Despite their size, they don’t need an enormous tank -- these are not particularly active frogs. A 15-gallon tank should be plenty, since you'll house each one separately. Along with the tank, you’ll need a wide and shallow bowl of water, a suitable substrate such as bark or chemical-free potting compost, and a supply of live bugs.
Temperature and Humidity
If the room you plan to keep the tank in is exceptionally cold, purchase a reptile heat mat and position it below one end of the tank. This species does best at a temperature of about 75 degrees Fahrenheit with a small drop at night. Because they are adapted to a desert habitat, African bullfrogs can tolerate very low humidity levels for a while -- this does not mean they like a dry environment. The optimum relative humidity is about 80 percent. Only dechlorinated or spring water should be used for misting and in the water bowl, as the chemicals in tap water are potentially lethal to amphibians.
Being fairly lethargic creatures that cope with long periods without food in the wild, these frogs are well able to store energy as fat in their bodies. In a comfortable captive environment, they become prone to obesity, which is not only uncomfortable for the animals but can cause serious health problems. Adult frogs do not need feeding very often, usually no more than once every two to four weeks.
Their natural diet consists of various invertebrates and occasionally small vertebrates. In captivity, suitable prey includes earthworms, crickets, mealworm larvae and locusts. They will take mice and possibly chunks of meat, but these foods are fattening and should not form the staple diet. To keep your frog from developing a deficiency, use a calcium and vitamin supplement for amphibians according to the instructions.
This is a large frog and a feisty one. They do not like being handled and it is not good for them. They also have relatively strong jaws with the capacity to inflict a painful bite. Avoid unnecessary handling of your pet and go slowly when you do, as a startled frog is more likely to be a biting frog. This is one of several reasons why frogs of any sort any not particularly good pets for small children.
Another reason is their lifespan. African bullfrogs are a long-term commitment -- they live for 20 years or more and it is not easy to find good homes for unwanted amphibian pets. If you are not certain what your living arrangements will be in a decade or so, don’t adopt these animals.
Judith Willson has been writing since 2009, specializing in environmental and scientific topics. She has written content for school websites and worked for a Glasgow newspaper. Willson has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Aberdeen, Scotland.