The diseases of pacman frogs
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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.