Zoo Med Pacman Frog Food for Horned Frogs and African Bullfrogs

t264488Frog owners have recently been presented with an interesting alternative to live insects and rodents as a pet food source. Continuing its trend of pioneering innovative, well-researched products, Zoo Med has introduced a powdered food that can be molded into various sizes and tong-fed to frogs. Although long-term studies on the value of commercial diets are lacking, experience indicates that some prepared/artificial diets have proven very useful. For example, thousands of generations of Mexican Axolotls have been bred (in research labs) on beef liver alone, African Clawed Frogs and many newts do well on Reptomin-based diets, and trout chow seems useful for American Bullfrogs. In both in zoos and my own collection, I have raised Mexican Axolotls and various newts, salamander larvae, and tadpoles primarily on trout chow and Reptomin. Zoo Med’s Pacman Food is eagerly accepted by African Bull and Horned Frogs (no surprises there -please see video below!) and Marine Toads. It’s likely that other “bold” amphibians, such as White’s Treefrogs, Fire Salamanders, American Toads, would be willing give this untraditional food a try as well.

 

Why Consider a Prepared Diet?

Usually, commercial diets are promoted for convenience-sake and as an option for pet owners who do not wish to handle live insects or rodents. However, I’m mainly interested in Zoo Med’s Pacman Frog Food because it may help to solve 2 recurring problems faced by frog owners. The first is the difficulty in providing adequate dietary variety. Wild amphibians utilize dozens to hundreds of species as food, but most pets must make do with 2-3 food items at best. Owners of African Bullfrogs, Horned Frogs, Cane Toads and other giants face the additional task of “filling-up” their pets and providing enough calcium without over-using rodents (while some success has been had on

Argentine Horned Frog

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by avmaier

mouse-based diets, there are also risks…please see this article).

 

Providing enough high-quality food can be a major undertaking – please see the article linked below to read about an African Bullfrog caught in the act of swallowing 17 baby cobras! Zoo Med’s product, which one mixes with a bit of water, can be molded into any size (or shape!), and so might be useful to people keeping dinner-plate sized amphibian behemoths.

 

Some Considerations

We do not have studies illustrating benefits or problems associated with this food; long-term success is claimed by a Japanese company manufacturing a related product. The examples I mentioned earlier (amphibians fed dry foods, liver, etc.) may be somewhat relevant, but we cannot draw any direct conclusions about Horned Frogs or others from these.

 

Surinam Horned Frog

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Maarten Sepp

I would suggest trying Zoo Med Pacman food as a portion of your pets’ diets. Continue to provide as much variety as possible, and choose from nutritious foods such as roaches, earthworms, sowbugs, minnows, crickets and silkworms. Please see the article linked below for other ideas, including the use of wild-caught insects.

 

In posts on other sites, some folks have expressed concern over the plant-based ingredients in this product, or the fact that fish is used as a protein source. While on-point research is lacking, it is well-known that frogs and other carnivorous animals take in a good deal of plant matter in the course of feeding upon herbivorous prey species. Fish, which I and others have long fed to many large frogs, does not seem to present any problems. Zoo Med Pacman Food also contains added vitamins and minerals, including calcium and Vitamin D.

 

Those who have tried will not need this warning (I’m sure!), but I should remind you not to feed Horned or African Bullfrogs with your fingers. The bony, tooth-like spikes that protrude from their jaws can inflict severe injuries. As most frogs seem to lack “self-control” when it comes to lunging at prey, use plastic feeding tongs only…sharp-edged metal models may injure your pets’ mouths.

 

Hi, my name is Frank Indiviglio. I’m a herpetologist, zoologist, and book author, recently retired from a career spent at several zoos, aquariums, and museums, including over 20 years with the Bronx Zoo.

Please check out my posts on Twitter and Facebook.   Each day, I highlight breaking research, conservation news and interesting stories concerning just about every type of animal imaginable. I look forward to hearing about your interests and experiences as well, and will use them in articles when possible.

 

Please also post your questions and comments below…I’ll be sure to respond quickly. Thanks, until next time, Frank.

 

Further Reading

Video: Using Pacman Food

African Bullfrog Consumes 17 Baby Cobras

Nutritious Live Foods for Frogs

 

Reptile UVB Bulbs: Insights on the Best from Zoo-Based Herpetologists

Ploughshare Tortoise

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Hans Hillewaert

I recently attended the NY Turtle and Tortoise Society’s (always fabulous!) annual conference on turtle and tortoise care and conservation, and had a chance to catch up with friends and former zoo co-workers. I learned that certain UVB bulbs manufactured by Zoo Med have been used to achieve significant improvements in the health and (possibly) reproductive output of captive tortoises. Over the course of my career as a zookeeper and herpetologist, I’ve tried to convince my zoo colleagues to consider the promising reptile care products available in the pet trade. I was not always (or, perhaps, not often!) successful, but zookeepers were doing the same elsewhere, and progress was made. Today, many products favored by well-informed private herp keepers are also in use in the world’s leading zoological parks. In this article I’ll relate some interesting findings concerning the role of UVB bulbs and sunlight in the care of Radiated Tortoise (Astrochelys radiata) and other h

 

The conference I attended is a day-long event sponsored annually by my favorite turtle care and conservation organization, the New York Turtle and Tortoise Society; please check this website to read about their fine work…and to see photos from my recent presentation there. As in so many years past, legendary herpetologist Peter Pritchard graciously traveled to NYC to anchor the event.

 

t262180gVitamin D3 Deficiency

Through presentations and conversations, I learned that Zoo Med T5 UVB and Mercury Vapor Bulbs have proven useful in the care of Radiated Tortoises (Astrochelys radiata) and other heliothermic (basking) reptiles. When blood tests revealed low levels of circulating D3, the UVB bulbs in a large tortoise exhibit were replaced with those mentioned above. Florescent bulbs (the Zoo Med T5), which do not emit significant heat, were paired with mercury vapor bulbs, which produce both heat and UVB. This technique, useful for pets as well, assures maximum UVB exposure by drawing animals to a heat source. When possible, the Radiated Tortoises were also exposed to several hours of natural, unfiltered sunlight.

 

Research is ongoing, but the tortoises’ D3 levels are now at normal levels, and several previously-infertile females have produced viable eggs. I’m interested to see if the effects of the bulbs and the sunlight can be distinguished (nothing tops natural sunlight, of course).

 

Several Ringtail Lemurs that share the tortoise exhibit also became very fond of basking under the new lights…maybe some bright young researcher will be asked to look into sunscreen for non-human primates!

 

T5 and Mercury Vapor Bulbs

Zoo Med’s T5 Florescent Bulbs are available in two strengths and several lengths, and must be paired with T5 fixtures or hoods. They are rated to emit UVB over a distance of 22-24 inches, at levels that double the output of Zoo Med’s traditional bulbs (anecdotal evidence may indicate a greater range, but further work is needed). In situations where traditional bulbs will be adequate, Zoo Med’s standard 5.0 and 10.0 are good choices. One study found that they out-performed similar models (please see the article linked below). Both models provide UVA as well.

 

Zoo Med’s Powersun and Exo-Terra’s Solar Glow Mercury Vapor Bulbs broadcast UVB to a distance of 36 and 22 inches respectively, and also produce UVA and heat. In many home situations, they can double as a basking light and UVB source, eliminating the need for other bulbs.

 

Common Flat Rock Lizard

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Sputniktilt

Which Reptile UVB Bulb is Best?

Choosing a UVB source had once been easy – unfiltered sunlight was the only source (and it remains unmatched). By the time I began working at the Bronx Zoo, our choices had expanded to include “black-light bulbs” and Vita-Lights. Today a bit of forethought and research is needed before one goes bulb-shopping. Please post any questions or thoughts below.

Hi, my name is Frank Indiviglio. I’m a herpetologist, zoologist, and book author, recently retired from a career spent at several zoos, aquariums, and museums, including over 20 years with the Bronx Zoo.

Please check out my posts on Twitter and Facebook.   Each day, I highlight breaking research, conservation news and interesting stories concerning just about every type of animal imaginable. I look forward to hearing about your interests and experiences as well, and will use them in articles when possible.

 

Please also post your questions and comments below…I’ll be sure to respond quickly. Thanks, until next time, Frank.

 

 

 

Further Reading

Zoo Med’s Standard UVB Bulbs: Test results

Chameleon Basking Time Affected by D3 Levels

 

 

Your First Pet Snake: A Checklist of Things to Consider

Honduran Milksnake

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Haplochromis

Snakes are almost mainstream pets these days, but I still see evidence that many people jump into snake ownership without fully considering all that is involved. In the course of my work as a reptile keeper at the Bronx Zoo, and now as a consultant for ThatFishPlace-ThatPetPlace, I’ve come-up with a list of important points that, if considered beforehand, will greatly improve life for both snake and snake owner. As always, please be sure to post any questions, or additional factors that you have found to be important, below. Please also see the articles linked below for my “best pet snake” recommendations.

 

Captive-Bred vs. Wild Caught: This is much easier to check today than in years past. Snakes born in captivity do not drain wild populations, are less likely to harbor parasites or diseases, and are generally easier to handle than are their wild relatives.

 

Handle-ability and other Pet Qualities: Snakes will not seek human companionship…as legendary snake expert Bill Haast put it “You can have a snake for 30 years, but leave the cage open, and it’s gone – and it won’t come back unless you have a mouse in your mouth”! Snakes definitely adjust to captivity, and some species accept handling better than others, but they should not be expected to be “friendly”.

 

The “It Doesn’t Do Anything” Factor: Ideally, the new snake owner will be interested in her or his pet for its own sake. But we also wish to see how it lives, what it does, and so on. Most snakes, especially well-fed pets, are about as active as the infamous “pet rock”!   If you want motion, consider a small species that actively forages for its food, and keep it in a large, naturalistic terrarium. A pair of Garter Snakes in a well-planted 55 gallon tank will provide you with infinitely more to observe than will a Burmese Python in a large zoo exhibit.

 

Western Garter Snake

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Steve Jurvetson

Costs of Owning A Snake: Your pet’s initial purchase price is but one part of the cost of snake ownership, which also includes electricity use, veterinary care (as expensive as dog/cat care), food, enclosure, and so on. With some planning, you can easily limit costs. A Garter Snake needs only a 20 gallon aquarium with (in winter) a low-wattage basking bulb, and a diet of minnows and earthworms…much less expensive than a 6 foot-long Boa Constrictor kept in a custom-made cage heated year-round with powerful bulbs and feeding upon pre-killed rats.

 

Veterinary Reptile Care: Reptile-experienced veterinarians are difficult to find in many regions. Trust me – it is a grave mistake to embark on snake ownership before locating a veterinarian, or to imagine that even the hardiest of species will not require medical care.  Please post below if you need assistance in finding a reptile-experienced veterinarian in your area.

 

Safety: All snakes, even the shyest and smallest, will bite when threatened, and they may react to scents, vibrations and other cues that we cannot perceive. Even minor bites should be treated by a doctor, to avoid infection, tetanus and other complications. Large constrictors have killed their owners and venomous species, which should never be kept, are regularly offered for sale. While easily managed with proper hygiene, Salmonella, which is generally carried by all reptiles, presents grave risks to certain people. Please see the article linked below and contact your doctor for advice.

 

Space: While snakes can make due with less space than many other creatures, you’ll see more of interest if your pet has ample room to move about. Be sure to research (feel free to post below) your snake’s ultimate size and typical growth rate. And please remember – zoos will not accept unwanted pets and, even if native, they cannot be released into the wild!

 

African House Snake

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Purplegerbil

Time Commitment: Depending upon the species and size of your pet, its care can range from a short, more-or-less weekly job (Kenyan Sand Boa) to a major, near-daily chore (Indigo Snake). Long term care should also be considered – Corn Snakes and other popular pets regularly live into their teens and twenties, while Ball Pythons may exceed 30, 40 or even 50 years of age!

 

Diet: Not everyone (or everyone’s significant others!) can accept a pet that consumes dead rodents. Unfortunately, Smooth Green Snakes and other insect-eaters usually refuse crickets and other readily-available foods (canned silkworms may be a useful alternative). The fish-eating Water Garter and Ribbon Snakes are a good option for many folks.

Considering a snake purchase is an important decision. If you need more time to consider the aspects of owning a snake, print out the following abbreviated check list:

Captive-Bred vs. Wild Caught: Captives tend to be easier to give care
Handle-ability and other Pet Qualities: Don’t expect them to be “Friendly”
The “It Doesn’t Do Anything” Factor: Small active species vs. larger docile species
Cost: Initial Purchase Price vs. Price of Ownership
Veterinary Care: Do you have access to a local veterinarian with reptile experience?
Safety: Properly treating bites and Salmonella and avoiding dangerous and poisonous species
Space: Consider your pet’s ultimate size and growth rate
Time Commitment: Ranging from species that require weekly care to ones that require daily attention, along with respect to their lifespans that can reach as high as 50 years
Diet: Ability to handle or accept that many reptiles eat or require dead rodents

Hi, my name is Frank Indiviglio. I’m a herpetologist, zoologist, and book author, recently retired from a career spent at several zoos, aquariums, and museums, including over 20 years with the Bronx Zoo.

Please check out my posts on Twitter and Facebook.   Each day, I highlight breaking research, conservation news and interesting stories concerning just about every type of animal imaginable. I look forward to hearing about your interests and experiences as well, and will use them in articles when possible.

 

Please also post your questions and comments below…I’ll be sure to respond quickly. Thanks, until next time, Frank.

 

Further Reading

The Five Best Pet Snakes

The Best Small Snake Pet

Preventing Salmonella Infections

 

Turtle Food: Pellets, Shrimp and other Prepared Diets

Painted turtle

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by US Bureau of Land Management

Today’s commercial turtle foods are, thankfully, light years removed from the yesteryear’s dried “ant eggs” (actually ant pupae). While natural foods remain important, some remarkable advances now provide turtle keepers with an important safety net, and simplify the process of providing our pets with a balanced diet. Today I’ll review some well-researched prepared diets that are valued by zookeepers and experienced private turtle owners alike.

 

Note: The excellent products described below should be used as part of a well-rounded diet….in my experience, up to 50% for some species, more or less for others. We do not, as far as I know, have long-term research concerning diets comprised entirely of prepared foods. Whole freshwater fishes remain the best source of calcium for Sliders, Painted Turtles, Snakenecks and most other semi-aquatic turtles. Depending upon the species, fresh greens, produce, earthworms and other foods may be essential as well. Please see the articles under “Further Reading” and post questions below for information on complete diets for specific turtles. Today I’ll focus on Zoo Med products, as they have an extensive product line that is backed by over 2 decades of research. I’ll cover prepared foods from Tetra, Hikari and others in the future.

 

mediaAquatic Turtle Food

Zoo Med’s Aquatic Turtle Food can be an important building block in the diet of a wide variety of turtles. It was formulated for Sliders, Sidenecks, and Asian Box, Spotted and Painted Turtles, but is also useful for African Mud Turtles, Spotted Pond Turtles and others. I especially like the fact that it is available in both hatchling and adult formulas, with the levels of protein and other nutrients adjusted for each.

 

ReptiSticks

This high protein (35%) floating food contains kale along with other animal and plant products, vitamins and minerals. I came to value kale as a turtle food after discussions with veterinarian co-workers at the Bronx Zoo, but find that it is not widely used by private keepers. Mixing it with the tastier foods included in ReptiSticks is also a great way to induce your “meat oriented” pets to eat their vegetables!

 

Spotted Turtle

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Dave Pape

Freshwater Shrimp

Shrimp play an important role in turtle diets, but until recently only marine species have been available commercially.  However, the shrimp in Zoo Med’s Sun Dried Red Shrimp is freshwater species (the Oriental River Shrimp, Macrobrachium nipponense) and as such is a great food item for most semi-aquatic turtles. Anecdotal evidence from several of my zoo colleagues indicates that shrimp (and krill) are an excellent calcium source for a variety of turtles…and I cannot recall many that will refuse them!

 

Gourmet Turtle Food

Dried cranberries and mealworms are among the unique ingredients in Zoo Med’s Gourmet Aquatic Turtle Food, which can be used to add variety to the diets of Sliders, Cooters and similar turtles. As always, be sure to feed this and other high protein foods (37% in this product) in accordance with the needs of the species that you keep…please post below for detailed information.

 

Some Other Ideas

t259648Zoo Med’s Floating Turtle Feeder accepts most pelleted foods, is fun to use, and will keep your turtle occupied and active.   Please see this article for more info.

 

I’ve long offered commercial turtle foods to various newts, African clawed frogs, shrimp, crayfish and hermit and fiddler crabs. When moistened, many are also readily accepted by millipedes, roaches, crickets and other invertebrates.

 

Hi, my name is Frank Indiviglio. I’m a herpetologist, zoologist, and book author, recently retired from a career spent at several zoos, aquariums, and museums, including over 20 years with the Bronx Zoo.

 

Please check out my posts on Twitter and Facebook.   Each day, I highlight breaking research, conservation news and interesting stories concerning just about every type of animal imaginable. I look forward to hearing about your interests and experiences as well, and will use them in articles when possible.

 

Please also post your questions and comments below…I’ll be sure to respond quickly. Thanks, until next time, Frank.

 

Further Reading

Feeding American Box Turtles

Slider Map and Painted Turtle Care and Feeding

Turtles as Pets: New Species to Try in 2014

Turtle enthusiasts are, in my experience, among the most intense of all reptile keepers. Passionate (and financially well-off!) friends of mine have maintained astonishing collections – upwards of 2,000 specimens in several cases – and their desire to learn remains undiminished. In recent years, refined breeding techniques have introduced and re-introduced many fascinating species to the pet trade. Today I’d like to cover several that might interest folks with varying degrees of experience. I’ll review others in the future…until then, please post notes about your own favorites (“new” or “old”) below, as those mentioned here are just a small sample.

 

Peacock Slider, Trachemys scripta venusta

Peacock Slider

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Magnus Manske

Also known as the Meso-American Slider, this aptly-named beauty truly is the “peacock” of its family, and one of the most spectacularly-colored of all American turtles. Hatchlings must be seen to be believed (unfortunately, the only photo I was able to use does not do the species justice; please click here for other photos), and they fade but little with age. The numerous dark-centered, orange-ringed spots that decorate the olive to bright green carapace are unique in the turtle world, and they are off set nicely by the yellow-striped head and legs.

 

The Peacock Slider’s range extends from southern Mexico (Veracruz) through Guatemala and Belize to El Salvador and Honduras. Within much of this area, it can be quite common…image having this as your local “pond turtle”! Like its cousin the Red Eared Slider, the Peacock spends much time basking on logs, plunging (or “sliding”) into water when disturbed.

 

Unfortunately for those with limited space, this is the largest of the 15 Common Slider subspecies, with females sometimes topping 19 inches in length. Otherwise, it is quite hardy and may be kept and fed as are Red Eared and other sliders (please see the article linked below for detailed information). A male (the smaller sex) might get by in a 55-75 gallon aquarium, but females need tanks of 100 gallon capacity, or commercial turtle tubs and ponds.

 

Keeled Box Turtle

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Torsten Blanck

Keeled Box Turtle, Cuora (Pyxidea) mouhotii

This subtly-beautiful turtle has been largely ignored by hobbyists and zoos alike, but it is now gaining in popularity.

 

Also known as the Jagged-Shelled or Indian Thorn Turtle, it bears a unique carapace which is flattened on top and decorated with 3 distinctive keels. The shell is clad in varying shades of brown, tan and rust, and is serrated at the rear edge. A hinge in the plastron of the adults allows the head and front limbs to be sealed tightly into the shell. They top out at 7 inches in length.

 

The Keeled Box Turtle ranges from southern China and eastern India through Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar. It is not well-studied in the wild, but seems to be restricted to forests and other habitats with thick plant cover.

Interestingly, they are reported to be largely nocturnal. However, a 30+ year-old pair under my care were content to forage by day. Night viewing bulbs will help you observe those that may be slow to give up their nocturnal ways.

 

Their care follows that of most American Box Turtles (Terrepene spp.), but in demeanor they are much shyer. Mine thrived on a diet comprised of vegetables, fruits, crickets, earthworms, pink mice and commercial turtle chows such as Zoo Med Box Turtle Food.

 

Pairs must be watched closely, as males often bite females during courtship. A typical clutch contains 1-5 eggs, which hatch after an incubation period of 95-110 days at 82 F. Please see the article linked below for further information.

 

Yellow Spotted Sideneck

Uploaded to Wikipedia Commons by Obsidian Soul

The Yellow-Spotted Sideneck Turtle, Podocnemis unifilis,

This attractive South American turtle commonly appeared in the US trade in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Scarce in the decades since, it is now making a comeback. It sports a yellow-rimmed, olive-gray carapace, with large, bright yellow or orange-yellow spots decorating the head.

 

The Yellow Spotted Sideneck inhabits northern and central South America, from Guyana, French Guiana and Venezuela to Columbia, Ecuador, northeastern Peru, northern Bolivia and Brazil; it may also be present on Trinidad and Tobago.

 

An active, semi-aquatic turtle that reaches 12-18 inches in length, the Yellow-Spotted Sideneck is best kept by those with room for a 100+ gallon aquarium or a commercial turtle tub or pond. Dry basking areas and ample UVB exposure are essential. Youngsters are largely carnivorous, adding plants to the menu as they mature. Zoo Med Aquatic Turtle Food,specifically formulated for Sidenecks and similar turtles, may be used as a cornerstone of the diet. Please see the article linked below for additional information on the natural history and care of this spectacular turtle

 

Hi, my name is Frank Indiviglio. I’m a herpetologist, zoologist, and book author, recently retired from a career spent at several zoos, aquariums, and museums, including over 20 years with the Bronx Zoo.

Please check out my posts on Twitter and Facebook.   Each day, I highlight breaking research, conservation news and interesting stories concerning just about every type of animal imaginable. I look forward to hearing about your interests and experiences as well, and will use them in articles when possible.

 

Please also post your questions and comments below…I’ll be sure to respond quickly. Thanks, until next time, Frank.

 

Further Reading

 

Yellow Spotted Sideneck Turtle Care

 

Keeled Box Turtle Care

 

Slider, Map and Painted Turtle Care

 

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