Not all people are aware that it isn’t just dogs and cats who find themselves needing new owners, but amphibians do too! Gremlin is a pacman frog who joined The House of Animals a year and a half ago. I adopted him when his previous owners felt like they had too many animals, and he was surrendered to rescue. I’m not sure of his exact age, but these frogs can live for over a decade, so I am hoping he will be a part of the family for a long time!
It’s easy to see how these frogs earned their names, with their short, stubby bodies and giant mouths they really do resemble the video game character, Pac-Man. It’s no surprise that they are referred to as a mouth with legs!
I aim to keep my animals in the best setups possible, and Gremlin is kept in his own mini ecosystem called a bioactive setup. This mimics his natural habitat, with its own drainage, soil, plants, cork bark and even its own ‘clean up crew’ in the form of tiny isopods, which break down any organic waste naturally.
This type of setup is easy to maintain, and in my opinion, looks really natural and attractive. The tank is an Exo Terra, which is made with exotic animals in mind, so I don’t have to worry about it leaking (important when you are dealing with frogs, of course!). The top is metal mesh for ventilation, and there are two glass doors at the front to allow access. At the bottom of the tank are clay balls (Hydroleca) with a layer of hessian material on top to allow the water to drain. On top of the hessian layer is some Zoo Med Eco Earth, a sort of soil which allows me to plant live plants into. The plants will thrive due to the high humidity and can draw water from the hydroleca layer. Any organic waste matter is taken care of by the clean up crew, and everything else filters down to the bottom and is siphoned out periodically.
So basically it’s a natural looking set up, which requires minimal attention from me as it won’t need emptying out and cleaning, like many of my other pets do. Gremlin did have more plants than he does now in his home, however being a typical pacman, he likes to burrow down into the soil and managed to uproot the plants meaning they need replacing regularly.
Gremlin can usually be found at the front of his home, in a dugout burrow where he lies in wait for his next meal. He does have a shallow water bowl which he enjoys sitting in from time to time, and does change where he sits, although he only really moves around at night. I have caught him moving around a few times if I go to see him late at night!
Ambush predators, such as the pacman will find a secluded place and lie in wait for prey items to cross their paths. They will not seek out prey in the way some hunters will. When something crosses their path, they will leap out, mouth wide open, and bite down on whatever is in front of them. The first time Gremlin did this, I remember jumping as he was so quick and it was sudden!
Pacman frogs are one of the few amphibians with teeth and will strike at anything that moves in front of them, so you need to be careful with your fingers around these guys as they will bite and hold on! I tong feed Gremlin for two reasons – first reason is to keep my fingers out of the way, and secondly, so I can monitor how much he has taken. Pacman frogs aren’t fussy about what they eat, but Gremlin particularly likes Earthworms.
Gremlin needs to live in a damp environment, which is achieved by manually spraying his cage twice a day with dechlorinated water (sometimes more if it’s a particularly hot day). The earth needs to be damp, but not sodden as it’s important that he doesn’t dry out, but the water shouldn’t pool either. Should his habitat become too dry, pacman frog can encase themselves in a tough, outer skin for protection from drying out (which can also happen if food is scarce). Once they are back in the right humidity, they will shed and eat this skin.
I never touch or handle any of my amphibians because they breathe through their skin, and I wouldn’t want to risk it – plus I don’t think Gremlin would be thrilled with me trying to hold him anyway! If I need to move him, I scoop him up in a container.
He’s a great little guy, although not hugely interactive like some of the other pets I have, I find him fascinating to care for and I like that his environment looks so natural – He is one loved frog!
If you liked learning about Gremlin, perhaps you would like to meet Dobby the Crested Gecko