How to Take Care of an American Bullfrog

Three Parts:Deciding if You Want to Raise a BullfrogCreating a Bullfrog HabitatCaring for your Bullfrog

“Jug-o-rum, jug-o-rum!” The American Bullfrog is easily recognized by its tell-tale call. Dubbed the “bullfrog” because of the similarity with the mooing cow's cry, this amphibian is an amazing creature to observe as it changes from a tadpole with gills into North America's largest frog. To properly take care of one, follow these few steps as you begin to learn about nature in your own backyard or in your own backroom.

Part 1
Deciding if You Want to Raise a Bullfrog

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    Learn the basics about American bullfrogs. American bullfrogs are the largest species of North American frogs, capable of growing up to eight inches long and weighing up to one-and-a-half pounds.
    • They are also fairly long-lived, with an average life span of seven to nine years in the wild.[1]
    • Bullfrogs are voracious and cannibalistic feeders, requiring a large and steady diet of live prey (more on this below).
    • The males, as well, are territorial and often aggressive, and are known for occasionally cannibalizing tadpoles and young frogs. [2]
    • For these reasons, you'll want to think carefully about why (and whether or not) you really want to commit to raising an American bullfrogs.
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    Think about bullfrogs as pets. While bullfrogs can be fascinating to raise from the tadpole stage, and while raising them can provide countless educational opportunities to children, they nonetheless are not the best candidates for pets.
    • Bullfrogs should not be handled. The oils from our skin can be harmful to the frogs, and similarly, the frogs can be carriers of dangerous salmonella. [3]
    • Because bullfrogs can live so long, you should be sure that you'll be able to commit to caring for your frog(s) in the long-term. If your child's interests are varied and quick-changing, you might want to reconsider your choice!
    • If you can no longer care for your bullfrog, you must be very careful about releasing your bullfrog into the wild unless your bullfrog was native to your area. Non-native bullfrogs are considered invasive species, and can cause quite a lot of damage and disruption to local ecosystems. [4]
    • Because bullfrogs are known to cannibalize, it's recommended that you keep only one mature bullfrog in a tank.[5]
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    Think about the commercial aspects of raising bullfrogs. Frog legs have long been a delicacy, and the meat of the American bullfrog is similarly prized. It's possible then, that you may be thinking about raising bullfrogs for a commercial endeavor.
    • While it might seem appealing to raise frogs for meat, overall, the venture is quite risky. Those operations which have been successful have been in locations which naturally provide optimal outdoor living conditions for bullfrogs. [6] ; [7]
    • Should you decide to proceed with your business operation, you'll obviously need a more more extensive set-up and habitat for your frogs. [8]
    • You'll also need to research and verify the particular regulations to which you'll be subject, acquire all of the necessary licenses, etc. Keep in mind that these will vary by state.

Part 2
Creating a Bullfrog Habitat

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    Choose your frog's new home. If you're lucky enough to live on property with a pond that is already populated with bullfrogs or suitable for their introduction, you really won't need to do much to prepare your bullfrog's new home. If you plan to care for your bullfrog indoors, however, you'll need to take additional steps.
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    Find an appropriate tank. Your tank should be as large as possible. If you're only raising one frog, you'll need at least twenty gallons, and as a general rule of thumb, an additional five gallons for each frog. [9] (Keep in mind, of course, that you may lose young frogs to cannibalism on the part of the older mature frogs.)
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    Fill the tank correctly.You'll need to add pond water, soil, gravel or rocks, and plants from the frog's natural environment.
    • There should be a “wet” area in the tank, with the water being deep enough to cover approximately half of your frog's height.
    • Be sure to add plenty of hiding spots in the tanks (with the rocks and plants you've collected). [10]
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    Invest in the appropriate equipment for your tank. You will want to purchase a good, powerful filter for your tank to keep your frog's new home clean.
    • Depending upon the tank placement in your home, you may also need a light.
    • Assuming that the room in which you keep the tank is relatively warm (25-28 degrees Celsius), you won't need a heater for your aquarium.
    • Bullfrogs require a humid environment, so it's possible that you'll need to use a humidifier on occasion.[11]
    • You may also want to cover the sides of your aquarium (excluding the front, where you'll be observing the frogs) with colored paper or aquarium backdrops. This will help prevent the bullfrogs from jumping against the glass and injuring themselves.[12]
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    Acquire your bullfrog. The consensus among experts is that it is best to harvest local tadpoles as opposed to ordering or purchasing tadpoles or breeding pairs of frogs.
    • You'll need either a cage or lidded container depending upon whether you are collecting mature frogs or tadpoles. Make sure that your cage has a tight-fitting lid so as to keep the mature bullfrog from jumping out.
    • If you're catching tadpoles, bring a sturdy net to wrangle the little guys. Check that the holes are smaller than your smallest finger so that the tadpoles won't slip through.
    • If you plan on catching an adult bullfrog and plan to catch it with your hands, wear gloves.
    • If you haven't already set up your aquarium with water, soil, etc. from the pond, make sure to collect sufficient materials from your frogs' first home now.
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    Transfer your bullfrog to its new home. This step is pretty self-explanatory! Once you've caught your new bullfrog friend, transport him home carefully and place him in his new home.
    • Give your new pal time to acclimate, and be sure that you've provided your bullfrog with plenty of tasty food to hunt. See the next part for more detailed instructions on how to feed and care for your bullfrog.

Part 3
Caring for your Bullfrog

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    Feed your tadpoles. Feeding requirements for tadpoles are fairly simple. Tadpoles are primarily vegetarian; thus, so long as you've populated your tank with native plants from their natural habitat, your tadpoles should have a sufficient food source.
    • You can also supplement with animal feed, available from pet stores. [13]
    • American bullfrogs remain in the tadpole stage for an extended period of time—up to a year or longer depending upon the species and climate.[14] Once they reach their mature stage, their feeding needs will change.
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    Feed your bullfrog. American bullfrogs are known for their voracious appetites, and so you'll need to be prepared with a steady supply of varied food options.
    • Adult bullfrogs eat insects, worms, tadpoles, small fish, and even young frogs and small snakes.
    • They will only eat moving prey, so you'll need to supply them with live food. [15][16]
    • Because bullfrogs have a seemingly unending appetite, you'll need to be careful not to overfeed them. Young juvenile frogs should be fed only once every couple of days, and adults only need to be fed only two to three times a week.
    • You may also want to consider adding a calcium supplement to the frog's prey.[17]
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    Clean your bullfrog's home. While you have been careful to create as natural of an environment for your bullfrog as possible, the ecosystem you've created is not self-sustaining, so you'll have to commit to a fair amount of maintenance.
    • You'll find it handy to purchase a pair of aquarium forceps. These will be useful for removing frog feces and any leftover food. You should do this regularly (ideally, every day). [18]
    • Be sure to replace replenish your frog's water supply regularly. Every week or so, you should remove approximately one-third of the tank's water and replace it with fresh, dechlorinated water.
    • The frog's water should be slightly acidic, and free from pesticides or other contaminants.
    • You may need to use a commercial dechlorinator.[19][20]
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    Care for your bullfrog's health. Bullfrogs are susceptible to a number of diseases and illnesses. Be on the lookout for any changes in behavior or appearance:
    • Is your frog lethargic?
    • Is your frog eating less or not at all?
    • Is your frog's belly bloated?
    • Is your frog's skin reddened (or different in color at all)?
    • If so, these are all signs of failing health, and you should be prepared to take your bullfrog to a qualified veterinarian.[21]
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    Enjoy your bullfrog. It may seem as though preparing to welcome your bullfrog is an involved process, but it really isn't! With care and attention, you should be able to observe and enjoy your American bullfrog for years to come!

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Categories: Frogs