Budgett’s Frog (Lepidobatrachus Laevis): Care Sheet, Lifespan, and More


Budgett’s Frogs have become popular pets, but they’re only suitable for the most experienced of amphibian caretakers. These frogs require a lot of specialized care that’s beyond the scope of what most beginners can handle. Moreover, this is a watch and don’t touch type of frog. You won’t be able to handle your Budgett’s Frog because of their aggressive personalities. But if you have the right set of skills, then a Budgett’s Frog can make an enjoyable pet thanks to their very interesting looks, strong feeding response, and general strange-factor.

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Quick Facts about Budgett’s Frog

Species Name: Lepidobatrachus Laevis
Family: Ceratophryidae
Care Level: High
Temperature: 70-77 degrees Fahrenheit
Temperament: Aggressive, defensive
Color Form: Gray, green, and purple
Lifespan: Up to 20 years
Size: 4-6 inches
Diet: Carnivorous
Minimum Tank Size: 30 gallons
Tank Set-Up: Split between dry and aquatic areas
Compatibility: Advanced

Budgett’s Frog Overview

Budgett’s Frog is named after the man credited for discovering the species, John Samuel Budgett. This English zoologist was searching for lungfish but ended up finding this interesting frog instead, writing about it in an 1899 paper. It took another hundred years for a captive breeding program to start, but now the species is readily available on the pet market.

You might notice that it looks similar to the Pacman Frog, another popular pet frog that’s related to Budgett’s Frog. But Budgett’s Frog still has a unique look of its own, with gray and purple skin and a head that’s one-third the size of its body or even larger.

These frogs are sometimes referred to as Hippo Frogs because they like to remain underwater with only their eyes and nostrils exposed, waiting for prey, similar to the way a hippo does. Naturally, this means that you’ll have to provide ample water for such purposes in your frog’s terrarium. Additionally, you’ll need to offer just as much dry land with plenty of hiding spots, making tank setup a rather difficult endeavor.

Budgett’s Frogs are also known for their aggressive and defensive behaviors. Come too close and these frogs will puff up and stand up as large as possible, hissing at you to voice their displeasure. They’re happy to lunge at you and will even take a bite, which can be quite painful thanks to two sharp fangs accompanied by ridges that act like teeth.

a budgett's frog
Image Credit: Kurit afshen, Shutterstock

How Much Do Budgett’s Frogs Cost?

Budgett’s Frogs are pretty affordable pets, which is part of the reason they’ve become more popular. On the cheaper end of the spectrum, you might be able to find one for just $40, though specimens from some of the pricier breeders can cost as much as $80. Keep in mind, you’ll have additional costs for setup aside from just purchasing the frog. You’ll need a tank, substrate, large water dish, hiding places, a tank heater, and more, so don’t forget to figure these costs into your budget.

Typical Behavior & Temperament

These frogs are known for being quite aggressive and may even bite you if provoked. They’re not the sort of pets that you handle. In fact, you’ll only ever handle your Budgett’s Frog if it’s absolutely necessary. But when the frog doesn’t feel like it’s in danger, it will move around the enclosure a fair bit, heading to different hiding spots and hiding in the water. You may not see much of this activity though since these frogs are nocturnal. They also go into a dormancy period for approximately three months when it would be the dry season in their natural region.

budgett's frog
Image Credit: Kurit afshen, Shutterstock

Appearance & Varieties

There aren’t really varieties and morphs of Budgett’s Frog available. However, some frogs do display slightly different coloring or more distinct markings. Most frogs are a gray/green base color with purple spots or markings across the body. They lack the bumps commonly found on similar frog species, sporting smooth skin instead. Young Budgett’s Frogs might have bright green markings around the eyes and face, though these will fade as the frog matures.

The largest Budgett’s Frogs can be six inches long when fully mature. Females are the larger sex, with almost all specimens over five inches being female. Males are most often around four inches in length and have a dark throat pouch that makes them easily discernable from females. Frogs should be longer than they are wide, but they’re still a very stout species with a head that’s at least one-third of their overall size.

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How to Take Care of Budgett’s Frog

Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup

Enclosure

Budgett’s Frogs are large and need a dual-environment setup, which means they need more space than your average reptile or amphibian. Your enclosure should be at least 30 gallons, split in half into dry and wet parts. The water half will need to be deep enough for your frog to fully submerge itself. Glass aquariums with screen lids work best since they allow heat to dissipate quickly with ample ventilation.

Substrate

You’ll want to use a mixture of soil and coconut fiber for your frog’s substrate. If you use anything that’s loose, it could be consumed during feeding. This can cause impaction, so your frog would need to be fed in a large dish instead. Using coconut fiber with a base layer of soil should allow you to feed your frog in its enclosure instead.

Temperature

The ambient temperature in your frog’s enclosure must remain below 77 degrees. If temperatures reach 80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, your frog could perish. It also shouldn’t get too cold though, so try to keep temperatures between 70-77 degrees. The water needs to be kept a bit warmer and should remain between 76-82 degrees. You’ll need an aquarium heater to achieve this, plus a thermometer to monitor the temperature of the water, which many aquarium heaters already include.

budgett's frog swimming
Image Credit: DSlight_photography, Shutterstock

Humidity

For a Budgett’s Frog, humidity levels should hover between 60%-70%. To accurately gauge this, you’ll want to keep a hygrometer in the tank. Our favorites are dual-use hygrometer/thermometers that will offer digital readouts of both temperature and humidity inside of the enclosure.

Lighting

Budgett’s Frogs are nocturnal creatures, so you won’t need to give much thought to lighting. Whatever light is in the room during the day should suffice. At night, no light is necessary.

Hiding Places

You will need to provide many hiding places on the dry side of the enclosure. You can use planting pots, coconut husks, hollowed logs, and whatever other things your frog can fit in or under. Just make sure you disinfect them before adding them to the enclosure to prevent any chance of contamination causing a health issue for your frog.

Can Budgett’s Frogs Be Housed Together?

Because of their aggressive nature, it’s never a good idea to house multiple Budgett’s Frogs in the same enclosure. They are practically guaranteed to end up fighting, which could result in serious injury to either party or possibly even both. This is irrespective of the combination you attempt to put together. Males and male pairings are just as bad of an idea as pairings of larger females together. Even housing males and females together is a bad idea, except for short, supervised spats for breeding purposes. Even if you double or triple the enclosure size, it still won’t be enough. Once your frogs meet, they’ll almost certainly come to battle.

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What to Feed Your Budgett’s Frog

Budgett’s Frogs are carnivorous amphibians that eat anything they can fit in their oversized mouths in the wild. This includes a variety of insects, lizards, other amphibians including frogs, snakes, mice, and even some fish.

In captivity, your frog will also enjoy a diverse diet, but this can be difficult to achieve. Captive frogs will consume a diet that consists mainly of insects, including crickets, roaches, worms, and occasional guppies.

You’ll want to feed your frog as many insects as it can eat in 15 minutes. Young frogs can be fed up to five times a week, though adults will only be fed three times weekly. Remember to gut load insects before offering them to your frog by feeding them on fruits and vegetables. Also, make sure to dust the insects with a calcium and vitamin D3 supplement at least every other feeding.

Keeping Your Budgett’s Frog Healthy

One of the biggest concerns for Budgett’s Frogs is contamination by pesticides or herbicides. These frogs are highly sensitive to chemicals, which is why you should never feed your frog wild-caught insects. Additionally, Budgett’s Frogs are susceptible to fungal infections that usually result from dirty environments with too much humidity or too little ventilation. Infections like Chytridiomycosis are becoming more prevalent in domestic frogs.

Budgett’s Frogs are also commonly affected by obesity. These frogs have voracious appetites and they won’t stop eating just because they’re full. That’s why it’s important to limit feedings to just 15 minutes. If you notice your frog gaining weight quickly after they’ve already reached a mature size, it’s probably a sign that you should reduce the amount of food you’re providing.

Breeding

Breeding Budgett’s Frogs is difficult for many reasons. Their aggression makes it hard to keep two frogs together without fighting. Moreover, these frogs are cannibalistic, and the young will eat each other while fighting to develop. Females can lay as many as 1500 eggs at once, and it takes just two weeks for them to metamorphose into frogs.

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Are Budgett’s Frog Suitable for You?

Budgett’s Frogs are becoming more readily available in the pet market, and many people are picking them as pets. If you have the right skills and knowledge, then a Budgett’s Frog can make an entertaining pet that could live for two decades. But these frogs aren’t a good fit for an inexperienced amphibian owner. They require extensive care, starting with a dual-environment habitat that’s half aquatic and half terrestrial.

You’ll have to provide ideal temperatures and humidity year-round to keep your frog healthy. These are interesting and active frogs, but since they’re also nocturnal, you won’t get to see much of what they’re up to. You also can’t handle a Budgett’s Frog due to their aggressive natures. Still, they’re a sight to behold with a giant head and purple skin, but make sure you know what you’re getting into before bringing one home.


Featured Image Credit: Takayuki Ohama, Shutterstock



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