Budgett’s Frog – Lepidobatrachus Laevis

Why Do Budgett’s Frogs Scream?

The internet is agog over a Budgett’s frog, possibly the cartoony-est frog ever, with a wide, flat body and googly eyes, who is the screaming star of YouTube.

That’s right, this Freddy Kruger of frogs with bony fingers and astonished stare, when tapped on the back, will stand up and emit the most hellacious howl you’ve ever heard from a frog.

They Are Not as They Appear

Even without the scream, their looks alone have made Budgett’s frogs a viral hit on Tumbler and other sites, with a meme that circulated a while back, “It is Wednesday, my dudes.”

The photo couldn’t be any cuter. The Wednesday frog has a smiling countenance and looks as peaceful as one-half of your grandmother’s salt and pepper shakers.

But the Budgett’s frog (Lepidobatrachus laevis) is more than just a pretty face. They are in fact aggressive, often cannibalistic amphibians whose status as a pet is growing in popularity. Fanciers recommend that only experienced frog owners endeavor to own this creature due to their specialized care. There is not much available information on how to best care for them.

As an adolescent, they cannot be kept with other frogs, because they will likely swallow them. Since they originate from South America, they need a certain temperature to thrive. Anything below 77 degrees Fahrenheit is deemed too cold, and they will stop eating. They will burrow and cocoon in layers of unshed skin all winter. Although they look goofy and affable, they will bite.

Budgett’s Frog History

The Budgett’s frog is named after a devoted zoologist who was the first to describe them. John Samuel Budgett wrote of the big-mouthed frog in 1899, finding them in the Gran Chaco, a drier region of South America. The frog’s territory covers Bolivia, western Paraguay, and south into Santa Fe, Argentina.

What the Yelling Is About

Budgett’s frogs are predators. But they are susceptible to predation by many other species, including those of their own kind.

Many frogs have defense mechanisms. Most of them use camouflage to blend in with their environment. Some will play dead, and others will puff up to make themselves appear larger. Some frogs will secrete toxic goo. Others will urinate on their attacker as they hop away.

Budgett’s Frog Screaming
When provoked, Budgett’s frogs will inflate themselves, rise up on all four legs, lunge, attempt to bite their attacker, and emit an ear-piercing shriek. Source

Budgett’s Frog Care

Due to their specialized needs and the unfortunate tendency to want to ingest their potential breeding partners, making Budgett’s frogs affordable to the pet market was a challenge. Their tadpoles are big-mouthed and aggressive.

Experts who care for amphibians recommend allowing the Budgett’s frog to aestivate each winter, as they would in the wild. The frog tends to ingest everything, including sand and rocks. Therefore, rocks and shelter have to be kept at a larger size than what they can swallow. The substrate must be left out altogether or maintained accordingly. Experienced keepers do not recommend sand or gravel. Instead, they suggest peat moss in one corner of the aquarium about the time the frog is ready to aestivate. When the autumn comes, lower the temperature in the tank, and reduce the water level a couple of inches at a time. Most Budgett’s frogs will signal that they are getting ready to aestivate; their usually voracious appetite will dwindle. Once the water is gone, the frog will burrow and go to sleep.

In the spring, the reverse is true. The aquarium temp should be increased gradually and the water level raised in increments. Some frogs may seem to have difficulty shedding the thick winter cocoon of skin. If they do not emerge as the temperature is raised, you must dig them out, put them in a bowl of clean water, and hydrate them by pouring water over them.

The habitat should always have clean water. The frogs prefer a quiet environment with water that is primarily still. Therefore, you should avoid using a power pump, such as one might use in a saltwater aquarium. A good filtration system is recommended. Budgett’s frogs tend to defecate a lot. They dirty their area pretty rapidly. And, of course, they should have a raised area where they can climb out of the water.

You can include plants in their environment, such as java ferns, Amazon swords, or cuttings of devil’s ivy.

Feeding of the Hippo Frog

The Budgett’s frog is also known as “hippo frog” due to their wide berth, bulbous eyes, and habit of sitting in a water level that allows the eyes to protrude above the surface.

Their appetite, not surprisingly, seems endless. Young Budgett’s frogs should be fed every day, and their typical menu includes:

  • Live Insects
  • Wax Moth Caterpillars
  • Roaches
  • Earthworms
  • Crickets
  • Small Fish

Young frogs should be fed as much as they want to eat in one sitting. Adult frogs are best to be fed two to three times per week. If you think you are overfeeding your adult Budgett’s, just take a look. Are they wider than they are long? If so, they are too fat. Cut back on the intake on that hippo.

Adult Budgett’s can be fed a variety of scrumptious treats. These include:

  • Locusts
  • Roaches
  • Lumbricus Worms
  • De-Shelled African Land Snails
  • Sardines
  • Prawns
  • Whitebait

To render the fish safe for eating, you should warm it first and then allow it to cool. Being amphibians, they don’t care if they are fed in the water or out. If feeding live food, you can drop the prey into the water or place it on the landing platform. However, be aware that the greedy Budgett’s frog can jump. They are, after all, frogs! They might make a leap for the incoming meal and snap your fingers instead. They can bite hard, and they will draw blood. Therefore, it is wise to use a pair of tongs to feed them.

Some frog keepers enjoy feeding their Budgett’s a killed (or live – yuck) rodent. If a rodent is the meal of choice, it is best to select the hairless kind. Your frog cannot digest the fur. The mouse will fill your frog up, so wait for them to defecate before you feed them again. Be aware that it might take as long as two weeks.

Budgett’s Frog getting ready to attack a live mouse
Budgett’s Frog getting ready to attack

Especially if still growing, your frog will need calcium and added vitamin D3 on a daily basis. Once they are mature, you can cut back on the supplements to about once every two weeks.

If kept properly and given the respect required for their natural cycles, your Budgett’s frog should be able to keep you entertained for about 15 to 20 years. They are not ideal projects for a beginner, but for those who have experience with amphibians, they can be the roly-poly grail.