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What Is a Pixie Frog?

By Nicole Etolen
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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"Pixie frog" is another name for the African bullfrog, a type of frog that primarily lives in sub-Saharan Africa. Despite the name, these frogs are actually one of the largest types of frogs in the world. The “pixie” is a shortened version of its Latin name, Pyxicephalus adspersus. These frogs can grow up to 9 inches (about 23 cm) in length, and up to 4.4 pounds (2.2 kg) in weight. Unlike most frog species, male pixie frogs grow larger than females.

Like all frogs, the pixie frog begins life as a tadpole. As it grows, it takes on a vivid green sheen with a yellow stripe down the center of its back. As it ages, the stripe vanishes and the color darkens and dulls. Pixie frogs may continue to grow for as long as 20 years before reaching their maximum size.

In comparison to other frog species, the pixie frog is particularly aggressive. It is common to see it lunge at other creatures that it determines to be potential threats. Due to its aggressive nature and sharp teeth, this frog should be kept in its own aquarium, as it will kill and eat any other animal placed in its territory. It will even eat other pixie frogs.

During mating season, the male pixie frog first chooses a territory, which he will defend against any other frog. He sends out his mating call through a series of grunts and deep calls. The female lays up to 4,000 eggs, which hatch into tadpoles after about two days. After about three weeks, they leave the water, sometimes eating each other during the early days, which helps thin the population, as only about 20 percent of the young frogs survive their early days.

Those considering purchasing the pixie frog as a pet should keep in mind that they eat quite a bit, and feeding them can be a challenge. Wearing gloves and feeding them with tongs is recommended to avoid getting bitten. Although the frog will eat just about anything that can fit into its mouth, it is best to avoid live mice or any other animal with teeth, as they can injure the pixie frog. Insects and small fish are usually the best choice.

The pixie frog is not the type of pet that can be handled or played with. Aside from the risk of a painful bite, handling the frog can cause it stress as well as damage its skin. It is best to avoid touching the frog unless the tank is being cleaned, in which case thick gloves should be worn.

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