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Amphibian Husbandry: Tong-Feeding Canned Insects to Frogs

I frequently promote the use of canned insects as a means of providing a balanced, varied diet to amphibian and reptile pets…in my experience, very little is as important as this one factor. Free living reptiles and amphibians consume dozens, and in some cases hundreds, of prey species, and rarely fare well on a captive diet consisting of 2-3 types of insects.
Canned invertebrates are convenient…some people even rely on them in place of readily available insects such as crickets and mealworms.  However, their true value lies in providing us an opportunity to add difficult-to-obtain food animals to our pets’ diets.  Other canned species that are valuable in this regard include grasshoppers, snails and fresh water shrimp.

Insect traps, such as the Zoo Med Bug Napper will also assist you in adding a variety of species to your insectivorous pets’ diets.

Feeding Tongs – Plastic vs. Metal

When looking at the video, please note how hard the frog strikes the insect…this is common, and a very good reason to use Zoo Med Plastic Feeding Tongs with these ravenous little fellows.  Metal tongs, which can injure delicate mouth tissues, are best reserved for pets which feed gingerly or take large food items.

Green and Bronze Frogs as Pets

Green frogs are wonderful but over-looked terrarium pets.  The normal seasonal changes throughout most of the USA are sufficient to spark breeding, even among animals housed indoors, and their colors are quite attractive and variable.

Populations living south of the Carolinas have been classified as a distinct subspecies, and are popularly known as bronze frogs (Rana c. clamitans).  The individual pictured here is part of a group I established for a new amphibian exhibit at the Maritime Aquarium  in Connecticut.

Green frogs also do well in outdoor ponds (please see photo), but be sure to introduce tadpoles if your pond is unfenced – adults that are relocated often attempt to return to their home territories.

Video #2 – Small Frog vs. Large Finger

The second video shows a yearling green frog attempting to swallow my finger.  This animal was received as a tadpole (as was the adult, now 3 years old), mixed in with a shipment of feeder minnows.  Although amphibians are thought to operate largely upon instinct, learning, as you can see, plays a role as well… my hand should send this frog diving for cover.  Interestingly, those captive-raised frogs that I have placed into outdoor ponds quickly regain their “common sense” and become difficult to approach.

Further Reading

Please see my article Providing a Balanced Diet to Reptile and Amphibian Pets  for further information.



  1. avatar

    Very interesting Frank, and love the videos!

    I’ve also heard of people capturing and freezing large quantities of insects. Do you think that such DIY efforts actually preserve the nutrition in the food items?

    Common impression of green/leopard frogs is that they do not adapt well to captivity and need big enclosures to avoid rubbing their noses raw. Your frog seems like he’s taken to his living situation very well! I’m surprised they breed well in captivity also. Any experience with the tropical Rana species?(Rana erythraea seems most common). R. signata is a particularly colorful example.

    Also, directly related to the article IME string or otherwise a wooden skewer works well on animals that are scared of tongs at first. It is less intrusive(same concept as noosing lizards)

    Looking forward to additional articles

    • avatar

      Hello Joseph, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Glad the video worked out, thanks very much.

      Freezing preserves most nutrients as far as I know, same with many of the foods that we eat; some zoo animals, i.e. penguins, often subsist entirely on frozen fish. There are some concerns with long term exclusive use of frozen fish, but these can be addressed with supplements.

      Yes, perception of most is that Ranids are high strung. I’ve found this to often hold true for leopard and especially pickerel frogs…nervous pickerel frogs shed toxins readily, and can wipe out a tank; I experienced such in a mixed species exhibit many years ago. Both need large, well planted aquariums.

      Bullfrogs, pig frogs and green frogs are quite individualistic, but I’ve found that the vast majority of green frogs adapt very well, in fact I consider them to be among the frogs best suited to captivity. I can often lure wild ones away from the shore by wiggling a twig or blade of grass, and have had a few take insects from my hand – perhaps just luck, as others disagree, but I’ve always found them to be very bold. I plan to write an article soon.

      I’ve kept a few tropical Ranids but no breeding that I can recall. Those who breed bullfrogs do so in greenhouse-type situations (pet trade albinos) or fenced-in marshy areas (food trade).

      Wooden skewers should also work well…long ones would be a good way of keeping some distance from the animal.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  2. avatar

    Hi Frank
    Just subscribed to your blog, it’s a great read and look forward to more coming through on my rss.

    • avatar

      Hello Gary, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for subscribing to our blog and taking the time to write the kind compliment, much appreciated. I look forward to your comments and observations.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  3. avatar

    Wonderful articles. 🙂

    I have a recent metamorph green frog froglet. It just came out of the water about 2 days ago. Its tail is now halfway gone. I am wondering what the best food choice would be at the moment(pinhead crikcets,e arth worms, etc.). I’ve been told to feed even while it’s reabsorbing the tail and others have said to wait. What is your view?

    • avatar

      Hello Jen, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog and the kind words, much appreciated.
      They can take crickets up to ¼-1/2 inch in size (usually sold as “small” in stores); bits of earthworm and wild-caught invertebrates are also very good. Calcium is extremely important for growing frogs – sow bugs (pill bugs) are especially useful, along with supplements; add guppies/minnows as the frog grows. While I do not usually provide UVB to amphibians, Green Frogs bask a bit in the wild – a low output UVB bulb would be a good idea.

      Green frogs usually begin feeding when the tail is a mere bump, but there is no harm in trying now. Crickets would be easiest as they will remain active and visible (the frog may not eat in your presence at first).

      You might also enjoy this article on Green Frog Care and Natural History.Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  4. avatar

    How long do canned insects last after being opened and refrigerated? One source told me up to a month, but I highly doubt that. Also, the videos aren’t available for some reason.


    • avatar

      Hi Alex,

      Those I’ve used are marketed as safe in frig for 1 week, but I stick to 3-4 days. They can, however, be frozen in small batches and de-frosted as needed. This has worked well for me.

      Thanks for the heads-up on the video; I’ve emailed the site manager (who is younger, brighter and, therefore, far more skilled at such things than this dinosaur!).

      Best, Frank

About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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