Can Pacman Frogs Eat Hornworms? Truth Revealed

Round and big-mouthed Pacman frogs are a popular pet species. If you are a parent to one of these frogs, you might wonder what to feed them. Can Pacman frogs eat hornworms? 

 

Hornworms are the caterpillar stage of adult moths known as sphinx or hawk moths. At this stage, hornworms are great feeder insects. 

They are rich in nutrients and are good for frogs. Pacman or horned frogs can feed on hornworms several times a week and get essential proteins, minerals, and water content from them.

 

Can Pacman Frogs Eat Hornworms

 

Do Frogs Eat Worms? 

A Pacman frog’s diet includes a wide range of foods, such as rats, lizards, small insects, etc. But when you keep them as pets, worms are some of the best foods you can feed them. 

Horned frogs enjoy eating different types of worms like wax worms, hornworms, red wigglers, and more. Worms are nutritious food items for Pacman frogs. They are packed with proteins, vitamins, and minerals and can supplement their diet quite well. 

Pacman frogs also find it easy to eat worms. The reason is that most worms have soft bodies, are squishy, and don’t have bones like vertebrates. Since there are no bones, your Pacman frog will be able to eat worms easily without choking. 

However, be careful not to feed too many worms to a Pacman frog. It can lead to an excess of certain nutrients which can cause gut problems.  

Do They Eat Hornworms? 

Hornworms are one of the most common types of worms at pet stores, and yes, you can include them in a Pacman frog’s diet. 

You can buy hornworms from pet food stores or online. You can also breed them as feeder insects. Horned frogs, like your pet Pacman frog, enjoy eating hornworms because these worms are packed with moisture and calcium. 

 

Can Pacman Frogs Eat Hornworms

 

What Size Hornworm Should You Feed a Frog? 

Hornworms grow to be about four inches long, making them one of the biggest caterpillars in the insect world. But when they start out, they are nothing but small green eggs with a diameter of less than ½ inch. 

When you feed a hornworm to a horned frog, the thumb rule is that it should not be wider than the space between the eyes of your frog. The length of the hornworm needs to be about a third of the frog’s body or less.  

If you keep hornworms, it is best to keep each in a separate container. This will help you monitor their growth. 

Moreover, you can gut-load the hornworm by feeding it a commercially available, special diet full of calcium and vitamin D3 about half a day before you feed it to your Pacman frog. 

What Are The Benefits of Hornworms for Frogs 

There are numerous benefits of hornworms as feeder insects for horned frogs, most of which come from their nutritional value.  

  • Hornworms have a high moisture content that provides hydration to Pacman frogs. 
  • Hornworms are rich in calcium and phosphorus. 
  • Fat content is low in hornworms, so if your Pacman frog is obese, they are good food.  
  • The bright green color of hornworms is enticing to Pacman frogs that are picky eaters. 

 

Can Pacman Frogs Eat Hornworms

 

Never Feed Wild Worms to Pet Frogs 

Hornworms in the wild eat plants from the nightshade family, including tomatoes and tobacco. These plants generate toxins, which hornworms process and store in their bodies. These toxins can be harmful to your frog.

Other wild worms often carry diseases that can be passed on to your pet frog. When you keep a Pacman frog in captivity, it’s unlikely that it will have the skills to identify which worm to eat and which to reject. Therefore, they are more prone to ingesting parasites. 

You should also not feed pet frogs dead insects for the same reason. Parasites from wild worms or dead insects can enter the substrate of the frog tank. This will lead to the contamination of the entire ecosystem within the tank.

What Else Do Pacman Frogs Eat? 

Pacman frogs are voracious feeders, and apart from hornworms, you can include a number of other foods, some of which are given below. 

Pinky Mice

Adult Pacman frogs can eat pinky mice. Pinky mice are newborns that do not have a coat and have not opened their eyes. A newborn mouse is also soft and digestible. 

If you are feeding a pinky mouse, make sure it is small enough for your frog to eat it safely. However, some Pacman frogs can consume adult mice as well. 

Wax Worms

Wax worms are common as supplementary food for Pacman frogs. But these worms are rich in fat, so you should only feed them to your horned frog 3 to 4 days a week. 

Dubia Roaches

Dubia roaches have high nutrient content and are easily available. They are also easily digestible. That’s why pet owners use them as a primary food source for domestic Pacman frogs. 

Nightcrawlers

Pacman frogs love nightcrawlers as they are soft, and they can easily snatch them up. You can buy nightcrawlers online or in fish food stores (because they are also good fishing bait). 

Other Foods

But check if the worms have chemical additives before buying. Horned frogs can also eat several aquatic species, including fish. These are good supplements. A Pacman frog might also snack on crickets, bearded dragons, and other lizards. 

 

Can Pacman Frogs Eat Hornworms

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Pacman frogs eat nightcrawlers? 

Pacman frogs eat nightcrawlers because they don’t have a hard exoskeleton, and they can easily digest them. 

In fact, nightcrawlers are a favorite among many species, including box turtles, aquatic newts, Pacman frogs, and even salamanders. Nightcrawlers usually include earthworms and red wigglers.

Can Pacman frogs eat Dubia roaches? 

Dubia roaches are a staple food for Pacman frogs. They have proteins, essential fats, moisture, as well as an adequate content of fiber and minerals like calcium and phosphorus. 

For smaller or baby frogs, you can use small roaches so that they don’t choke on them.

What is the biggest thing a Pacman frog can eat? 

Pacman frogs have incredibly large and powerful mouths and can eat mammals and reptiles of a certain size. 

One of the biggest things that a Pacman frog can feast on include adult mice. Due to their strong tongue adhesion, these horned frogs can snatch an entire rat and eat it in one go. 

How do I fatten up my Pacman frog? 

If your Pacman frog is underweight, you can add wax worms to its diet. Wax worms contain a high percentage of fats. 

You can also start feeding it fish and mice, which are fatty foods. You can add supplements with beta carotene and other nutrients along with springtails as treats once in a while. 

Wrap Up 

In the wild, especially in parts of South America, Pacman frogs feed on a variety of bugs, lizards, and mammals. 

But in captivity, you need to keep an eye on its diet. We hope this article helps you provide the best nutrition for your pet Pacman frog. Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

Reader Emails

Over the years, our readers have sent us several emails on this topic. Please go through them below.

Letter 1 – Giant Sphinx Moth Caterpillar: Genus Cocytius

 

Name this green giant please…
Hi there bugman,
I almost had a heart attack when I saw this caterpillar on my young sweetsop/anon/sweet apple tree. I live in Miami Florida. I tried identifying it, is not a tomato hornworm nor a luna moth…It measures about four inches long, it only has the little red dots on the sides and the white line that ends in a horn, on its posterior end it has a grouping of red dots. It’s the only one I have seen in my garden and curiosity kills me. Please help me identify it, and thank you for this wonderful website and the work you do.
Manuela

Hi Manuela,
You were close with the Tomato Hornworm. This is another Sphinx Moth Caterpillar, typically called Hornworms. It is in the genus Cocytius. It is either Duponchel’s Sphinx, Cocytius duponchel, or more likely, Cocytius antaeus, which has no common name. Both caterpillars feed on Sour Sop or Custard apple,
Annona glabra, and other related plants. The caterpillar of Cocytius antaeus is a closer visual match.

Hi Daniel,
I appreciate you writing me back. curiosity kept me searching until I found it on one of those University websites that have their “bug” study area. I agree that it matches more with the Giant Sphinx- Cocytius antaeus. The color and markings were exact. I had let it stay on my 2 1/2 foot tree overnight and when I saw my little tree in the morning…it had to go! I value more my sweetsop tree than a giant moth. It is not an endangered specie, the blue jays wouldn’t touch it nor the other birds, so the ants are having a go at it. Thanks again for your help.
Manuela

Hi Manuela
We did a bit more research after receiving your response, and according to a Wikipedia article on the Giant Sphinx: “Its wingspan can measure up to 17cm, and is very rare in North America. It is the only insect in North America with a long enough proboscis to pollinate the also rare Ghost Orchid .” The Ghost Orchid was popularized in Susan Orlean’s book The Orchid Thief that subsequently led to the film “Adaptation”.

Letter 2 – One Eyed Sphinx Moth Caterpillar

 

Need Caterpillar ID
September 25, 2009
Could you please identify this caterpillar? It was found on a Willow tree this week (September 2009), in Los Angeles, CA. It measures aprox. 1.5 inches long.
S Logan, Los Angeles CA
Los Angeles CA

One Eyed Sphinx Caterpillar
One Eyed Sphinx Caterpillar

Dear S Logan,
What a nice find.  This is a One Eyed Sphinx or Cerisy’s Sphinx Caterpillar, Smerinthus cerisyi.  Bill Oehlke’s Sphingidae of the United States website has images of the adult moth as well as other stages of development.  This is a wide ranging species in North America.  In addition to willow, the larvae also feed on poplar.

Letter 3 – Possibly Hydrangea Sphinx Moth Caterpillar

 

Hi, what type of caterpillar is this?
Hi, I live in Brooklyn, NY and found this around my front lawn. It was quite hefty – probably 3-4 inches, with a beautiful color. What is it? Thanks,
Mark
(GREAT website, by the way)

Hi Mark,
This is a Sphinx Moth Caterpillar, and we suspect it might be a Great Ash Sphinx or Northern Ash Sphinx, Sphinx chersis. There are several different color variations. Was this really found in January?

Hi, thanks for your quick response. Sorry for misleading you. The photo was probably taken in late spring or early summer, judging by the pictures of full blooming hydrangeas in my yard that I believe were taken at the same time, especially since the leaves in the picture with the caterpillar were from the hydrangea bush. I had it on my computer for a while, I just stumbled on your website and didn’t see it there -though from the similar ones, I guessed it was some sort of Sphinx moth. Anyway, thanks again!

Ed. Note:
August 30, 2009
In making some classification changes to our archives, we decided to follow up on the hydrangea leaf, and now we believe this is the caterpillar of the Hydrangea Sphinx, Darapsa versicolor.  Bill Oehlke’s website indicates:  “
and the ‘horn’ on the tail also turns downward as pupation draws near. This individual appears to have a downward turned horn.

Letter 4 – Bedstraw Hawkmoth Caterpillar

 

Species Identification
Hello,
My name is Michael Reaid, and I am currently a graduate student at FSU. Unfortunately, my field of biochemistry leaves me with little experience in the entomology world. I was recently (August 2005) in Glacier National Park in Northern Montana on a hike when I came across an interesting caterpillar. I am just very curious to find out what it is. I’ve attached three digital pictures (optimized, to save mailbox space, so excuse the graininess) I took of it on the trail before I moved it aside into some vegetation. I would really appreciate an ID, or being sent in the right direction. Thank you very much!
Cheers,
Michael Reaid

Hi Michael,
Bill Oehlke’s excellent site lists very few members of the family Sphingidae in Montana, but there are three species in the genus Hyles. This is most definitely one of them. The two likliest are Hyles lineata and Hyles gallii. Both species have similar looking caterpillars with high variability. None matches your specimen exactly. We suspect Hyles lineata, the Striped Morning sphinx or White-Lined Sphinx, to be the liklier candidate. We also suspect a green caterpillar has changed color before pupating.

Correction July 8, 2012: 
Today while trying to identify another example of this caterpillar, we discovered that there is now a matching example on The Sphingidae of the Americas website indicating that this is
Hyles gallii, the Bedstraw Hawkmoth.

Letter 5 – Sphinx Moth Caterpillars from Saudi Arabia

 

Subject: Poisonous?
Location: Dhahran, KSA
November 24, 2012 2:04 pm
Are these caterpillars poisonous? When i tried to remove one ’with a stick’ it tried to sting me with its ’horn/stinger!’ and squirted a green liquid!
My cat tried to eat one and it did this to him! Right between his eyes!! I would really like to know its name? If its poisonous or not? And if they are butterflies or moths?!
In the last picture: the yellow one is the one that tried to sting me and you can see traces of the green stuff that it squirted! It wasnt that yellow before i think it chaged colors!!
Signature: Dee

Hornworms

Dear Dee,
These are Sphinx Moth Caterpillars in the family Sphingidae, and they are frequently called Hornworms.  We know of no poisonous Hornworms, so our speculation is that they are harmless.  Many Sphinx Moth Caterpillars are edible, including a North American species that looks quite similar, the Whitelined Sphinx Caterpillar. 
Hyles lineata. One Hornworm that just might be poisonous is the Oleander Hawkmoth Caterpillar which feeds on the leaves of the deadly oleander plant, and it might be able to sythesize the poison and make use of the toxin for protection.

Hornworm

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

13 thoughts on “Can Pacman Frogs Eat Hornworms? Truth Revealed”

  1. Hi Manuela and Daniel,

    I’m a student at UM.I’m going to study Giant sphinx moth and going to establish a breeding colony and release the surplus back to the wild.
    I was trying a lot to find either the adults or caterpillars of this species.
    I wish I get a chance like Manuela to see this caterpillar….

    Please..If any of you happen to see this species again, could you please contact me (305 284 1676)….
    I’m anxiously looking forward.

    Thanks
    Bhagya

    Reply
    • Bhagya. I live in Ft Lauderdale 9545202167 I have a horn worm that I have never seen before this year. It’s brown with an unusual face. There is one on my pentis now. Do you want me to capture it?

      Reply
  2. Hi, I have just returned from Holiday in Hometown in Barbados and we woke up to one of these caterpillars on the front porch of the villa we were staying in. I googled it as I have never seen a caterpillar so big before. I took a a picture and video of it .

    Reply
  3. How interesting! These caterpillars were of the Convolvulus hawkmoth (Old-World-Pink-Spotted-Hawkmoth) Agrius convolvuli. They feed on plants of the morningglory-family (Convolvulaceae). The two larvae on the picture have just moulted and their skin is fresh and soft; at this stage they should grow to a triple size at least, and then pupate in soft soil underground. Late november is interesting for larvae at this stage – but the finding place is far south; however, I am pretty sure the pupae overwinter there until mid-april or may, as the temperature is lower in the wintertime. A. convolvuli is a migrating species with high spread…

    Nice wishes,
    Bostjan

    Reply
  4. How interesting! These caterpillars were of the Convolvulus hawkmoth (Old-World-Pink-Spotted-Hawkmoth) Agrius convolvuli. They feed on plants of the morningglory-family (Convolvulaceae). The two larvae on the picture have just moulted and their skin is fresh and soft; at this stage they should grow to a triple size at least, and then pupate in soft soil underground. Late november is interesting for larvae at this stage – but the finding place is far south; however, I am pretty sure the pupae overwinter there until mid-april or may, as the temperature is lower in the wintertime. A. convolvuli is a migrating species with high spread…

    Nice wishes,
    Bostjan

    Reply
  5. I saw this magnificent caterpillar today on a pond apple tree at Flamingo Gardens in Davie, FL. The botanical gardens include many orchid species, probably not the Ghost Orchid, maybe the moth pollinates other orchids too.

    Reply

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