Home | Amphibians | Do Your Frogs or Toads Have Trouble Catching Insects?

Do Your Frogs or Toads Have Trouble Catching Insects?

Wyoming ToadI’ve recently observed several frogs and toads to develop difficulties in feeding (American Bullfrogs, Gray Treefrogs, Southern Leopard and Green Frogs; several readers have written to me concerning difficulties with American Toads).  It starts with what looks like “bad aim” and progresses to the point where the frogs cannot catch insects at all and must be force-fed.  I’ve looked into the problem and found that a Vitamin A deficiency, leading to Short Tongue Syndrome, may be involved (please see this article by Dr. Kevin Wright of the Arizona Exotic Animal Hospital for details).  I’d like to request that readers send me their own observations, so that we can learn more about this serious amphibian health problem.

Short Tongue Syndrome

The condition was first observed in captive Wyoming Toads, Bufo baxteri, an endangered species (please see photo).

According to the article mentioned above, studies of the feeding difficulties, labeled Short Tongue Syndrome, revealed that diets deficient in Vitamin A may prevent mucus glands associated with the tongue from producing enough saliva.  The tongue is not, as the disorder’s name implies, shortened, but rather insects simply do not stick to the tongue when grabbed.

Other symptoms, such as swellings in the lower eyelid, have been reported in Leopard and various Poison Frogs.

Powdered supplements containing low levels of Vitamin A, or products that have expired or been improperly stored, may be implicated.  Dr. Wright’s article (please see below) suggests possible treatments.

Vitamin A and Calcium: My Experience

Leopard FrogThe afflicted frogs and toads under my care were fed largely upon wild-caught insects during the warmer months, a strategy that has served me well for decades, so I suspect the problem does lie with the Vitamin A content of supplements used during the winter.

Several individuals have also exhibited poor coordination and difficulties in getting about, which sometimes points to Calcium-related disorders.  I’m looking into several possibilities and will post updates.



Further Reading

Frogs: Vitamin A Deficiency; Dr. Wright’s thoughts, and research from the San Diego Zoo.

How a Herpetologist Cares for American Toads


  1. avatar

    I’m a botanist and an avid lover of toads, and I find your thorough and scientifically based blog on toad and general amphibian-raising to be one of the most useful tools on the net, thank you for posting and continuing to post your observations.

    I had a recent experience with what I believe was vitamin A deficiency in my American toad, so I hope my descriptions of the symptoms and subsequent recovery will be useful. I had noticed for a few months that both my American toad and great plains toad were no longer using their tongues to catch crickets and were instead catching their prey by launching their mouths at the insect. I had also at this time switched to mainly hand-feeding (too many escaped crickets in an apartment complex makes for bad neighbors), so I thought this change in behavior reflected my change in feeding methods. Then about 2 weeks ago I noticed my American toad seemed to be a little unsteady when hopping. He’s land, but would wobble a bit when landing. I was a little concerned, but nothing else seemed to be happening and he was eating fine, so I didn’t so anything else. Then suddenly he had a lot of difficulty holding himself up. He could still crawl around, but his body seemed to be permanently arched as if in a defensive posture and he had great difficulty eating. He’d be interested in the food, and lunge towards it, but he’d never open his mouth. At one point I observed his scratching his mouth on the ground in what seemed like frustration. At the same time the muscles in his back legs seemed to twitch involuntarily. I did a little research then and found out about the vitamin A deficiency (from your blog mainly, thank you for the information) and switched my nutrient powder to include vitamin A. He couldn’t eat at this point, so I had to force feed him a coated cricket. And overnight, like magic, he seemed to recover. He’s sitting normally now and has all of his appetite back. I’m almost suspicious to assume the vitamins were responsible given his speedy recovery, but I can’t seem to find an alternative explanation.

    Anyway, I hope this helps your work and anyone out there with this problem. I’ve raised amphibians for a long time and this was the first time I ever encountered a vitamin A deficiency, but I’ve now definitely switched my remaining toads to a nutrient supplement containing vitamin A.

    • avatar

      Hello Christie,

      Thanks very much for the most useful observations and the kind words, much appreciated. Almost word for word a description of what I’ve seen in several amphibs. I do know of cases where a single dose of a vitamin or mineral has led to a quick turn-around, although such is rare. Keep it up, I’d say!

      Please let me know what supplement you used when you have a chance. We have a great deal to learn, and much of it will come from first hand experiences such as yours. I’m in touch with Dr Kevin Wright, an amphib med pioneer, re such things, and will keep him informed.

      Twitching toes may be a sign of tetany, brought on by CA deficiency; unfortunately, several other symptoms of this overlap with what we see when Vit A is involved, so there’s no way to judge w/o blood tests, etc. I’m assuming the supplement has CA as well? Toads seem able to utilize dietary D3 to assist in CA metabolism, but some people are leaning towards using low output UVB bulbs designed esp. for amphibs, as insurance, i.e the Zoo Med 2.0.. I’ve seen eye probs in gray treefrogs, wood frogs, that may possibly be related to high UVB exposure, but the 2.0 should be safe, esp if the toads have a retreat.

      Perhaps this article on Spray Toads will be of interest; smallest species I’ve seen, but classified in Bufonidae.

      Thanks again, pl keep me posted and I’ll keep your info on hand, Frank

  2. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Thank you for the extra information. Actually the twitching toes comment interests me, as I’ve noticed over the years that the back toes on my American toad, great plains toad, and tiger salamander all twitch, but only when I’ve placed food in their aquarium. I always just assumed it was some kind of hunting tactic. I’ll have to watch now that I’m supplementing their food with more vitamins and see if the behavior continues.

    The new supplement I used is called Zoo Med’s Reptivite with D3. It was the only supplement I could find which included a form of vitamin A. It also boasts an impressive list of nutrients (including things such as various amino acids and micro-nutrients like Niacin), and while I’m not convinced that all of these things are necessarily needed, I don’t think they can hurt either. Honestly I think it’s more nutritionally complete than the multivitamins I take.

    Before this I had been using a calcium with D3 powder and have a plant light on one side of the aquarium (I use live plants, but only ones with zero toxicity such as ferns) but unfortunately I can’t tell you what type it is. I’ve had it for a couple years now though and it’s ability to produce the necessary UV light for plants has probably worn out.

    I hope this helps, I’ll let you know if the ‘twitching toes’ behavior changes.

    • avatar

      Hi Christie,

      Thanks for the feedback. i should have mentioned that toe-twitching is also part of the normal hunting behavior of many amphibs. In tetany, it is unrelated to hunting, and usually seen when the animal is having trouble moving, etc. Calcium gluconate injections are used to revers the condition. I need to look into the hunting aspect more; have not seen much on it, thanks for the reminder. Tail twitching/caudal luring used by young copperheads, red-tailed ratsnakes and others makes sense, given their dietof lizards, frogs, birds, but I’m not sure what purpose toe twitching serves the toads (unless they are hunting mantids, caterpillar hunters, or other sight-hunting inverts!).

      I usually recommend ZN with D#, thanks very much. For most herps, I rotate that with ZooMed Reptical, or ReptoCal, to provide an extra CA boost. May not be necessary for toads. Unfortunately, we know little of their actual needs, largely anecdotal.

      Very good to use live plants whenever possible…one of the secrets to some of my and other’s long-established terrariums, exhibits. What does your work with botany involve?

      Best, Frank

  3. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    I’m glad to hear the twitching toes is really a hunting behavior. I always found it very cute when they did it and was feeling a little sad that is was actually a symptom of nutrient deficiency. And thank you for the supplement information. I think I will start rotating as well just to make sure nothing like this every happens again.

    I work with invasive plants trying to determine their methods of expansion and the effect climate change will have on their expansion rate. But herpetology has always been a hobby of mine.

    • avatar

      Hi Christie,

      Let me know how all goes, please. Very interesting that the symptoms stopped.

      I’ve worked with everything from ants to elephants, focus on herps/inverts; plants hae always been an interest, esp. aquatics and emergent-swamp types, but everything, really.

      Best, Frank

  4. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Just finished reading one of your articles on feeding frogs and toads. I have recently acquired a cane toad, I’ve had him for about a month. I have kept toads in the past, your garden variety American/Canadian toads and never had a problem. My little female A toad is an easy going sweetie who eats willingly and broadly, horn worms, crickets, mealies, moths whatever wild caught insects that blunder into my insect catcher. The cane toad is making me tear out my hair. He’s about 4 ” long and the most neurotic creature I have ever encountered. I have followed all the “toad rules”, big tank, de-chlorinated water in a clean dish every day, gut loading, monthly enclosure cleaning, heating cable in one corner, misting, the whole nine yards and its not enough. He is an incredibly picky eater, when I first got him all he would eat was super worms, dead ones at that (not my first choice for a toad) I weaned him off of those and onto crickets. He ignores free roaming crickets. He will only eat crickets if their legs are snipped and they are presented in a bowl. Earthworms are a big problem, by the time he has worked up the nerve to approach his dish they are long gone, tongs are out as he is so shy any sign of a person sends him hopping to safety. Horn worms are ignored and usually wander off or drown in his water dish. He will take the occasional mealy but they are the potato chip of the insect world and don’t count as nutritious. I realize he was likely wild caught, kept in questionable conditions etc…a cage clean up usually puts him off his food for days. How do I get him to come around?
    Also, what do you think about Polysporin Antibiotic Drops for Eyes and Ears, can I use those on toads for minor stuff? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • avatar

      Hello Heather,

      Sounds like you are doing everything right (I;m assuming temperature is appropriate…check air temps, as cables sometimes warm substrate only) He also has a cave , or a substrate in which to burrow?

      They are usually quite bold..in Costa Rica, I’ve had them push open a screen door to get at insects drawn to lights in our patio! But they vary a great deal, and have had shy ones as well. no real way to change this other than to let the animal adjust.

      Keep it hungry for awhile, and try watching from a distance, perhaps use a red/\black night light to assist in this.

      Physical difficulties capturing insects can be related to a Vitamin A deficiency (please see this article http://bitly.com/PwJAJk, but that doesn’t sound like the case here. Wild caught animals will be parasitized; treatment can be difficult and dangerous, usually a judgement call; some parasites clear on their own, others do not.

      Polysporin can be used for minor nicks, but watch carefully for infection/fungal growth.

      Please post some details about hiding spot, air temps etc when you have a moment.

      Best, Frank

  5. avatar

    I am a premed student, and tried to raise two American toad toadlets last year (just for fun) who had this condition. The toadlets were wild caught in late summer, both female, already grown past initial tiny size (about 3g when found), and appeared thin. I fed them on store-bought crickets and mealworms for three months, and they fattened and grew nicely to about three times their initial size. Fed the crickets lettuce, no varied diet, and never dusted or fed supplements (unwise). I also kept them in a good sized enclosure where I changed their water nearly every day, that had a heating pad, and a heating light (I don’t think I got them a blue UVB/UVA light until much later). I sprayed their enclosure frequently as well to keep up humidity, but it didn’t work too well – humidity likely was about 65-70% (which I also changed after this whole episode).

    Around 3 months in, they kept growing, but I began noticing toe twitching which was a bit odd. This became more common, but having no experience with amphibians I ignored it. I then began to notice they occasionally seemed to “miss” their food. At first it was cute – like they were uncoordinated young toads. It very very gradually got worse. I began to notice they became very timid, based on how quickly they would urinate as a defense mechanism. Usually only did so when holding, but they started to do it when I’d just take off the lid, or even make a little noise near them (this despite having ceased handling them except when necessary to help the little guys relax).

    As their ability to grab food got worse, I first noticed them occasionally losing interest in food and having the first significant trouble getting food in their mouths w several attempts, so I began looking in texts for it being a problem. On closer examination of their behavior, it seemed their “lost interest” in food actually seemed to result from exhaustion with attempted eating, which was most evident with mealworms which they were always more interested in eating. I tried to compensate by getting smaller mealworms, then eventually cutting the smaller mealworms in half and offering the wriggling part to them before it stopped moving. It was effective but only somewhat, and didn’t last.

    I eventually found the same references above to vitamin A deficiency and shortened tongue syndrome. A call to that same referenced vet hospital in AZ, with described symptoms led to confirmation it was likely shortened tongue syndrome. They told me they could prescribe a shot for the toads, but would be expensive, and I sadly didn’t pursue it as prognosis was already poor given how advanced their condition had become.

    Understanding for the first time that vitamin supplements and varied cricket diet was actually important and not in the same category as people who make t-shirts for their dogs, I went out and got Fluker’s calcium cricket feed, Fluker’s Orange Cube, and two vitamin supplements for dusting crickets before feeding them to toads. I began feeding the crickets those two food sources in alternation, and dusting them before feeding twice a week. The dusting made already extreme difficulty grabbing food near impossible, and I was beginning to fear it was too little too late.

    I thought to try one thing the AZ hospital had suggested that was also described in the Amphibian Medicine and Husbandry textbook – to hold the toads, gently pry their mouths open with a thin plastic card, and put food in their mouths. I did this with dusted crickets twice for a week. The last time I fed them a little more because we were leaving on a trip for a week, and leaving them in the care of friends.

    On feeding them, I noticed both toads made a very odd movement I’d never seem before, severely arching their backs inwards, and feared I’d overfed them (likely). I left on the trip, and four days later they gradually stopped moving and died. I should point out they didn’t appear to have lost any appreciable weight by the time they died, despite near total inability to eat for about 3 weeks. Needless to say I felt pretty sore about it and my mistakes for a while.

    I should mention that everything above was ALSO done with a single male adult Oak toad (bufo quercicus) I’d acquired too, also wild caught. He never had any of the same symptoms, even the toe twitching. I figure metabolic demands are much greater in a rapidly growing juvenile toad. But nonetheless I was worried, partly bc oak toads are so reclusive I’d rarely ever seen him eat (though he obviously did and fattened over the period, though I didn’t know how hard it was for him to grab food) and unwisely attempted to force feed him as with the others. Only decided against it when the little guy kept chirping really loudly in distress as I tried to open his mouth (female toads obviously couldn’t do this), and oak toads are so extremely small (3g in adult size, w small faces compared to same sized American toadlets), I was really afraid I might fracture his jaw in trying very carefully to open his mouth. He lived. It’s been about 14 months now since the American toads died and he remains alive and well, though I’ve fed him crickets who are fed both of above two prepared foods the whole time. I never dust crickets for him though.

    I figure one of three things killed my toads:

    1. My inept ministrations in trying to feed them – I never had a very detailed description of how to force feed the toads, and didn’t realize the dry powder on crickets combined with force feeding could have led to aspiration of the powder (breathing into lungs), which could have caused respiratory failure.

    2. I overfed them that last day. Bad, bad amateurish mistake. This is why doctors train so long under guidance of other doctors even after 4 years of med school – stupid mistakes from inexperience can kill.

    3. They were already mostly gone, and died of vitamin A deficiency. Likely would have happened eventually, as even with treatment prognosis is poor as this condition becomes advanced. But they weren’t emaciated, still plump when they died, so if this killed them, it must have been some other physiological impact of vitamin A deficiency separate from the mouth.

    I tried to be as detailed as possible here because an account like this of my mistakes and the condition’s progress would have helped me with my little toads. Even the literature on this condition is stunningly scant.

  6. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    I just came across your site, and have found it very helpful. I had a question and concern, that I was hoping you might be able to help me out with. I’ve had five red-eyed tree frogs for around three years, and recently, I’ve noticed that two of them (housed in separate enclosures) are having trouble eating and losing weight. Prior to this, I had one frog become very sick, her extremities and eyes were losing their colour and she wasn’t eating. Although they didn’t know what she had, they treated her with an antibiotic. She is on the mend, but still not eating. She was housed with one of the frogs not eating, but not with the other one. I was wondering if you knew if the manifestation of short-tongue syndrome can occur in bacterial or parasitic infections? Or if it is possible that two, maybe three frogs, have a vitamin A deficiency while the others seem to be okay (so far).

    Thank you for your time and any reply you give.

    • avatar

      Hi Tara,

      Thx for the kind words. Vitamin A can be involved but a number of infections, as well as other health problems, incl. a CA deficiency, can cause similar symptoms. Wouldn’t hurt to increase supplements, vary diet etc. A cloacal swab can sometimes be used to help ID a parasite, infection, etc. in animals that are not feeding. Pl see this article and let me know if you need further info, good luck,. pl keep me posted, Frank

  7. avatar

    Sorry, I should say, that the sick frog was housed with one previously, she is in quarantine now.

  8. avatar

    Hi Frank,

    Thank you for the reply. I’m happy to say that two of the frogs are eating now, although one still has some trouble catching crickets still. Parasitic tests came back negative and there was no evidence of a fungal infection on any of them. The sickest one, though, is still not out of the woods. She was treated again with an antibiotic, and she has not improved any. I am hoping that further diagnostic tests will help figure out the proper treatment.

  9. avatar

    I would love to read the article by Dr. Wright, but the link appears to be dead. Regardless, this is good information!

  10. avatar

    I hate to be the one to say it, but unfortunately Dr. Kevin Wright died about a week ago fairly suddenly at age 50. He contributed a lot of great research and he will be missed.


    • avatar

      How sad…I knew him well, but missed the news of his passing somehow; he helped me a great deal since I began work at the Bronx Zoo n the early 80’s, and since my retirement. He had such wide interests, which is so rare today, and was equally at home helping out a kid with an ailing gerbil or working with barely studied herps at zoos; very skilled in husbandry as well. Best regards, Frank

  11. avatar

    Hi Frank,
    I was fortunate to have discovered this blog about short tongue syndrome. I found a small American toad in mid October of 2013. The recommended terrarium was set up and I began feeding her a diet of small crickets and meal worms. She was growing nicely and everything was fine until around mid December when her tongue began to miss its target. I initially assumed that the toad had developed a vision problem but then I noticed that its tongue appeared to have become too short to reach its prey. The problem grew worse until it sometimes took 5 attempts before she would either catch one or give up trying and just walk away.

    It was time to consider a reptile vet but then I got the idea to Google the problem to see if there was the chance of anything being posted the internet. Lo and behold your link popped up. Eureka! I dashed out to Petco and bought the Reptivite brand of multi-vitamins with calcium. The powder made the prey even more difficult for the tongue to grab onto, so I additionally began putting some liquid bird vitamins in the water bath as well (the Reptivite didn’t dissolve well in water). There was no improvement for the first week but then Toady’s catching ability slowly started to get better. It took about 3 weeks before she began to make occasional one-shot catches, but as of this morning, she achieved 3 in a row. Recovery seems to be at hand and those vitamins will remain a regular supplement to her diet.

    I want to thank you for your elucidating article and also the readers who contributed their personal experiences to your blog.
    My best to you,

    • avatar

      Hello Dave,

      Thanks very much for the kind words and the useful observation. Back before reptile vitamins were available, we used bird vitamins in zoos, Avitron was the standard then, still used for some herps by vets today; your input will be very useful…I’ll save and pass along, thanks. Please let me know what brand you used when time permits.

      I’d avoid mealworms, other than newly-molted grubs; poor CA: Phosphorous profile and linked to digestive problems, blockages, etc. Vary the diet as much as possible; and be sure to feed the crickets well before use. Please see Frog/Toad Diets (link to Part I in text)and Live Food Care and let me know if you need anything, best, Frank

  12. avatar

    Hello again Frank,
    The liquid bird vitamins I’m using in my toad’s water is Vita-Sol by Eight in One Pet Products. I did read the frog/toad diet on the link you kindly provided. I actually did begin feeding my toad insects from the same forest preserve I found her in. So for the first few weeks she was fed roli polis, slugs, and small earthworms I gathered from under rocks and dead wood. When the cold weather set in, and its been a brutal winter here in the Chicago area, I had to resort to the crickets and meal worms available in pet stores. I will endeavor to locate a source of earthworms, perhaps from a bait shop, until spring arrives and I can provide her with a greater variety of bugs.
    Thanks again for your helpful suggestions,

  13. avatar

    Hello again Frank,
    The liquid bird vitamins I’m using in my toad’s water is Vita-Sol by Eight in One Pet Products. I did read the frog/toad diet on the link you kindly provided. I actually did begin feeding my toad insects from the same forest preserve I found her in. So for the first few weeks she was fed roli polis, slugs, and small earthworms I gathered from under rocks and dead wood. When the cold weather set in, and its been a brutal winter here in the Chicago area, I had to resort to the crickets and meal worms available in pet stores. I will endeavor to locate a source of earthworms, perhaps from a bait shop, until spring arrives and I can provide her with a greater variety of bugs.
    Thanks again for your helpful suggestions,

    • avatar

      Hello Dave,

      Thanks very much for the product info, good to have on hand. You can order small earthworms (they can be bred also, see here), sowbugs (see here), calci-worms, flightless houseflies and silkworms online; let me know if you need help finding sources. Earthworms and sowbugs can be used as staples, easy to keep alive long term and very nutritious; others ordered on occasion for variety. Please keep me posted, enjoy, best regards, Frank

  14. avatar

    Hi, I also have the same problem with a toad that my son caught in the wild this spring. He has been eating a diet of fruit flies all winter and was fine until a week ago. I went and bought the powdered Fluker’s and dusted several crickets. It seems like he ate 1-2 of the dusted crickets but I can’t be sure. I have two questions: 1) if he can’t eat the dusted crickets is there some way I can get him to ingest the powder directly? and 2) is it possible to dust the fruit flies?

    • avatar


      You can dust the fruit flies. You might also try dissolving some of the powdered calcium (be sure it has D3 as well) into the water bowl; some will be absorbed through the skin, but we do not have any studies as to how effective this is. A drop or 2 of liquid CA may also be useful…use the edge of a plastic spoon to open the mouth, and place a drop in front of mouth; again, no data re effectiveness. A vet can administer Ca gluconate injections.

      Fruit flies alone, even if powdered, are not an adequate diet. variety is impt; try to add small crickets, and flour beetle grubs and, if the toad is large enough, small sowbugs and flightless houseflies (all available online); the info in this article is applicable to small toads as well. Best, Frank

  15. avatar

    Thank you so much. I will try those suggestions. BTW, the toad is very small, just less than an inch long. It might be a dwarf variety of toad.

    • avatar

      My pleasure, please keep me posted; there are a great many species, all start off rather small…if you let me know where it was collected, I can try to narrow it down for you, best, Frank

  16. avatar

    Hi, I am still having trouble with the same toad. I have been trying to feed him mealworms, crickets, fruit flies, etc dusted in the Fluker’s vitamin powder and he still can’t catch them with his tongue. I dissolved some of the vitamin powder into his water and although it seemed like he was better afterwards he still can’t catch anything. I am worried he will starve to death. I even tried hand feeding him a mealworm using a tweezers but he wouldn’t eat it. Please help, thanks again!

    • avatar


      As mentioned, we unfortunately do not have any specific info on home treatment, other than experiences in similar situations. Improvement , if it occurs, would likely take some time. You can force feed by gently prying the moth open with a smooth plastic spoon..place a small dead cricket just inside the mouth..do not force down the throat. other than that, an experienced vet would be your only option. Please note that mealworms should not be used, especially for an animal that is ailing…linked to intestinal blockages, poor nutrient profile. Best, Frank

  17. avatar

    Thanks for your reply. I did end up taking the toad to a exotic pet vet who agreed that it was short tongue syndrome caused by calcium and vitamin D deficiency. He gave the toad a shot of calcium and also some topical supplements. So far it doesn’t seem to be any different. I may try force feeding him tomorrow if he is still unable to catch food.

  18. avatar

    I have a young American Toad that I’ve had for 3 days caught in yard. He is having twitching of his back middle toe. I’m feeding them pet store crickets nad have just started gut loading the crickets with Fluker’s High Calcium Cricket diet. It does have Vit a in it. I see where things can get serious is there anything else I can do.

    • avatar

      Hello Martha,

      The toe twitching is actually a normal behavior, usually exhibited when food is sighted..several theories, none proven as far as I know but not a concern. Twitching associated with tetany (due to a calcium deficiency) is more pronounced..you wouldn’t be seeing that in a newly-collected animal. Please note that crickets alone, even if powdered with supplements (gut-loading useful, but powdering gen necessary as well) are not an adequate diet. Please see this article and let me know if you need more info, best, Frank

  19. avatar

    Hello Mr. Indiviglio,

    After doing much research I am now convinced that my Western Toad has STS. All of the behavior I’ve observed since I got him has been spot on with it such as missing or failing to properly catch prey and the prey not sticking to his tongue even when properly struck at. How do you recommend proceeding forward with this? What kind of supplements/doses should I give him? And if it comes down to force feeding how would I do so? Thank you.

    Cheers, Alex

    • avatar

      Hi Alex,

      Unfortunately, we do not have specific treatment guidelines…well-experienced vets may have some ideas, so check that route as well. It’s also very difficult to diagnose via symptoms alone…even if all fit what’s described in the article, other factors may be at work. Your best option would be to use Zoo med ReptiVite with D3 and ReptiCalcium on most meals. Also add as much dietary variety as possible…order butterworms, silkworms, calci-worms, earthworms, lab raised houseflies etc online if possible. I hope all goes well, please keep me posted, Frank

  20. avatar

    Thanks for the great article. I have 2 adult male albino bullfrogs. (Yes, they’re loud.) Their tank is aquatic, with a turtle dock, a snake house, and an overturned glass pie plate for them to stand on. (The pie plate is considered primo real estate and they fight over it.) I use Marimo moss balls to keep the water from turning green and I change the water in their tank regularly. There’s a filter of course. I’m guilty of feeding only dubias in the winter, but I catch other bugs during the warm months. The bugs are dusted with ReptoCal.

    Problem: Igor eats fine but Jack is terrible. First, he studies the bug for what seems like forever, then he misses a lot when he eats off the dock. When he eats out of my hand, he just hits my hand with his nose and doesn’t open his mouth. Eventually, he eats, both ways, but after much trial and error. I didn’t notice this until I started supervising mealtime. It’s weird because Jack is the bigger, dominate frog. Could water be washing off enough powder with his repeated attempts to cause the problem? Should I dust his bugs more frequently, separate them at mealtime (so he doesn’t get stressed out at Igor looking at his food) or do something else? Jack has a good bit of energy and seems to feel fine. He’s just as obnoxious as ever.

    On the twitching feet, I’m convinced that it’s feeding/hunting behavior. I’ve seen this in all my frogs, but only while hunting. My theory is that it’s excitement. They hunt to feed but I really think they enjoy the excitement.

    • avatar

      Hi Lyla,

      Thanks for the kind words.

      It’s hard to say anything with certainty, as there are so many variables. Bullfrogs do sometimes band at food ..could be more of an aggressive move – signals get confused in captivity due to artificial light cycles, territory size etc. Separating could help, if they will eat when moved. Especially in winter, when variety is limited, will do not harm to increase su;pplementation.

      Roaches are a good base diet in winter…feed them well. Please see article below. Earthworms can usually be ordered online or at some stores…excellent also.

      Sounds like you’re being careful with water quality. Might be useful to keep ammonia test strips on hand, as ammonia can spike quickly if a few different factors come together all at once; many large frogs are lost due to this.
      http://blogs.thatpetplace.com/thatreptileblog/2012/03/16/live-food-care-reptile-amphibian-tarantula-and-scorpion-diets/#.VOds1C5kCGE Please keep me posted, enjoy, frank

  21. avatar

    I finally bought an API ammonia test kit about a month ago. So far, so good. They live in my kitchen. I think to myself, “would I want to live in there?”

    Sounds like you think it may be more of a psychological problem than a physical health problem. He may be responding to my hand being in the tank, getting distracted by or attacking my hand. I use my hand to keep the dubias on the turtle dock. Could be that earthworms will wiggle enough to get their attention but wouldn’t move very far. I’ll give them a try. Thanks for your help.

    • avatar

      Hi Lyla,

      Hopefully that is it..considering you’ve given them a good diet, and how bold pets can be, I would lean that way.

      You might try using a plastic feeding tong (no metal – as you know, there’s no subtlety to their lunges!). Or you can pinch several legs from the roaches…sounds bad, but they (the roaches) are not troubled by this..will eat right away if put back in roach tank, etc. Earthworms are an ideal food source…I use heavily for most amphibs; can gut load easily and powder, let me know if you need more info. If they get to edge of platform, they sink, however. I’ve recently found that bullfrogs will eat when completely submerged..a new observation for me, and I’ve been watching them for more years than I care to say!

      Forgot..re the toe twitching..it is indeed associated with feeding, most common in toads but others do so as well; several theories as to use, I haven’t checked into latest thinking on this. The tetany associated with calcium deficiencies is different.. more of a rapid quivering of limb, sometimes followed by rigidity.

      Enjoy and pl keep me posted, Frank

  22. avatar

    Hi Lyla,

    I have an albino Woodhouse toad, and I can tell you that some albino animals have terrible vision. The reduction of melanin in their skin often also hampers their eyesight. My albino toad only sees crickets if I hold them right in front of her face, she doesn’t respond to any movement on the ground. I’ve had her for years, and her tongue can fully extend, so i know it isn’t a vitamin a issue. The problem your second albino bullfrog is having with food may be a longterm issue due to poor vision, but I know of no way to test this.

    Good luck!


  23. avatar

    Hi Christie,
    That was the first thing I thought of and I’ve made jokes about him needing glasses. I’m glad you brought that up though because it made me think back to their old tank setup. He didn’t have a problem back then so it can’t be a long term problem. But I suppose other things could affect vision so I’ll keep it in mind.

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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