Animal Scene’s managing editor JEFFREY C. LIM has found that keeping this reptile can have unusual results.
The African bullfrog is one of my favorite pets in my collection; I’ve named mine “Pixel.” In my experience, not all frogs have the same attitude; Pixel, for one, is quite different. If he sees me, he will move to the glass to be near me, and when I pick him up he will not try to struggle because he knows I will transfer him to an empty cage (either a big one or a plastic bin) that I use as a feeding cage.
Not a lot of people know that the African bullfrog needs exercise too. I exercise Pixel by making him ‘hunt’ for his food; I place the food far from him so he will have to move to it. For example, if I’m serving him superworms, I don’t place all the superworms in one place. I put them in one at a time in different places. I enjoy feeding him, and after he’s consumed 30 pieces of superworms, I bring him back to his regular tank.
When I feed him a mouse, I will not feed him any more for the rest of the week—sometimes even longer to make sure he won’t become obese. For his regular diet, I give him crickets, different cockroaches, mice, and fish. For the latter, I buy ‘tawilis’ from the market and freeze it to kill germs, then when I need it, I defrost it and serve it up using tongs. I use Zoomed calcium D3 as his vitamin.
I use cocopeat as his substrate (about 5 inches high). He loves to burrow into it and emerge on other side there. I also put in a water dish big enough for him to swim in; sometimes, he will stay in the water for a week, and other times, he will stay in the cocopeat for a week.
After feeding, I don’t touch or carry him so that he can relax and I can avoid stressing him out. As for temperature, I don’t put in any heater; room temperature is okay. Every other day I mist the tank to make it humid and I see to it that I change the water once a week. I also change the substrate monthly.
One unique thing about Pixel is that when he sees me, he will move toward me and seems to be listening when I talk to him and say, “Hi, how are you?” It sounds crazy but I know he can hear me and he seems to understand that my careful movements and how I never offer or present my hand to his face (to prevent his instinctive response of snapping at me; African bullfrogs, after all, have sharp lower teeth) is my way of telling him that I care for him. I love touching his head and while he won’t act like a kitten or puppy receiving affection, he doesn’t resist or struggle. I certainly hope Pixel will stay with me for 30 years as my pet and friend!
One last thing: you might think, based on my description and because Pixel has never bitten me, that African bullfrogs are ideal and affectionate pets. But that’s not the case. Most of the time, they don’t move, in fact. And they will snap at their keepers. Maybe we should respect that they have individual personalities as well and will respond to how we treat them as they see fit.
This story appeared in Animal Scene’s July 2016 issue.