Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata (Vertebrata)
Class - Amphibia
Order - Anura
Family - Ranidae
Genus - Rana

Pixie Frogs


The pixie frog is the largest amphibian in south Africa, and the second largest frog in the world.
Scientific Info
Scientific Name - Rana Catesbeiana
Type - Amphibian
Diet - Carnivore
Size - 9cm - 15cm (3.5in - 6in)
Weight - 300g - 500g (10.5oz - 17.6oz)
Top Speed - 17km/h (10mph)
Life Span - Upto 20 Years
Conservation Status - Least Concern
Colour - Black, Green, Grey, Brown, Yellow
Skin Type - Permeable
Favourite Food - bugs, fish, mice, birds, other frogs, reptiles and small mammals.
Habitat - Semi-Aquatic
Average Clutch Size - 20,000
Main Prey - bugs, fish, mice, birds, other frogs, reptiles and small mammals.
Predators - Snakes, Fish, Turtles
Distinctive Features - Powerful legs and cow-like call
Species Emerge from date

Apparently, there are two different "Pixie" frogs, P. adsperus and P. edulis. One is a "dwarf" and the other is not. There is a lot of conflicting information on the net about these, I don't believe most people actually know there are two pixies and just label what they have with the first latin name that they see attached to pixie. Therefore I'm not sure what characteristics are used to differentiate between the two. However, I'm talking here about the bigger (non dwarf) version of the two (Pyxicephalus adsperus).

These guys come from: Africa! (surprise!) Actually, they generally are found eastward and southward from Nigeria. They also live throughout the eastern savanna regions, from Somalia to Port Elizabeth, and west to Angola. Usually, they hang out in open grassland, and if there are any to be found, they'll sit around in puddles. In the dry season, they will burrow into the ground. Apparently, the natives find them to be a tasty treat!

The African bullfrog, or Pixie frog as it is often called (because of it's latin name- NOT because it's as cute as a fairy!), is one of the largest frogs in South Africa. It measures up to 9.5 inches (24 cm) and may weigh over two kilograms. It has a chubby body with a broad head, and has olive-greenish colored bumpy skin. The male usually has a yellow throat while the female's throat is cream. Only its hind toes are webbed. The female is much smaller than the male (12 cm or 4.45 inches), which is pretty weird, 'cause usually its the female frogs that are bigger!

location of origin

The pixie frog is the largest amphibian in south Africa, and the second largest frog in the world. The west African Goliath frog is the only species known to be larger. The pixie frog, also known as the African bull frog due to his huge size and deep voice, adapts to temperature extremes dropping below freezing, and rising to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, for extended periods of time.



African Bull Frogs are fairly inactive so do not need really large enclosures. They will grow quite big though, so adequate space should be provided to meet your African Bull Frogs needs. An adult male would need a suitable enclosure at approximately 3ft long and at least 1ft wide or a 20 gallon aquarium.

A glass tank, plastic RUB (really useful box) or a terrarium make good homes for African Bull Frogs. They prefer a woodland type set up within their housing.


Deep Coco husk, Eco-earth and fertilizer-free soil are good substrates to use, as African Bull Frogs like to burrow and spend much of their time just beneath the surface of the substrate.

A simpler, but less attractive substrate is paper towels. These are cheap, fit for purpose and easy to clean if they become soiled. Live moss, which is rooted into the substrate, can be used in your terrarium, but loose sphagnum moss should be avoided, so that there is no risk of ingestion during feeding.


All amphibians need fresh water daily. A large, shallow water bowl should be provided containing de-chlorinated or bottled spring water. Tap water may be used as long as it has either been treated with a de-chlorinating solution or been left to stand uncovered for over 24 hours, so that the chlorine can evaporate.

If you would like a more elaborate set up then a 50/50 split to the tank is also an option. Dedicate half the terrarium to terrestrial burrowing space and the other half to a water area. A filter may be added to help keep the water clean and it is advisable to have a ramp between the two areas to aid your frog when leaving the water.

The depth of the water should be no higher than the height of your African Bull Frogs mouth when at rest.

African Bull Frogs like most amphibians will soak up water through their skin and since their water bowl is used as the main place to defecate it is important that it is cleaned daily.


African Bull Frogs require high humidity within their terrarium. Humidity of above 80 is recommended, so having a hydrometer within the tank is useful to ensure that humidity stays at the correct level.

Lightly misting the terrarium a few times daily with de-chlorinated water in a spray bottle should suffice to keep humidity at the right level for your African Bull Frog, but additional humidity can be encouraged by place the water bowl nearer the heat source.

Ensure that between mistings the substrate remains damp, but not water logged.


The ideal temperature for your African Bull Frog is a temperature of around 25-28°C (77- 82°F), with a slight drop at night time.Never use heat lamps or basking lamps for amphibians, as these can cause your African Bull Frog to dehydrate.

It's useful to have a small thermometer on either end of the terrarium to check the temperature.


African Bull Frog should be kept out of direct sunlight to ensure that the light from the sun does not generate too much heat within the terrarium.

African Bull Frogs do not need the addition of UV lighting if they have enough vitamins and variation in their diet. Although you may find the live plants in your terrarium will die without any light. A fluorescent UVB tube is ideal as it won’t give out any heat and will help the plants thrive. You should place the light at one side of the terrarium creating a light gradient so your toads can find a darker place out of the light if preferred. Ideally you should cycle the lighting to mimic the frogs natural habitat by having a 12/12 system - 12 hours of light and 12 of dark.


Daily spot cleaning is required and any defecation should be removed if possible to do so. You will also need the clean the water bowl daily.

Your entire terrarium should be completely cleaned out on a 3-4 week basis. Your African Bull Frog should be moved to a temporary tank whilst being cleaned.

All substrate and décor should be removed and refreshed. Use an amphibian safe disinfectant to clean the terrarium to prevent the build up of bacteria, but always ensure that all chemicals are thoroughly rinsed away, so that there is no chance that they will harm your African Bull Frog.


African Bull Frogs are one of the few amphibians that can be handled, but it should not be done too regularly or for prolonged amounts of time. It is advisable to wash your hands both before and after handling. This is because African Bull Frogs, like all amphibians, have delicate, absorbent skin and the oils and salts on our hands can cause them harm. Handling your frog with clean, wet hands makes it more unlikely that any substances on our skin will hurt your frog. Alternatively, Latex or surgical gloves can be worn during handling.

African Bull Frogs can give a nasty bite, so be extra careful when placing your hands and fingers near your frog’s mouth during handling.


African Bull Frogs shed their skin at regular intervals as they grow. The old skin is pushed off with the hind legs and the skin peels off from the back end. The skin should come off in one piece and is normally eaten by the frog. The skin is pushed forwards using its legs towards the mouth.


Estivation is the term given to the period of Hibernation that wild African Bull Frogs usually go into during the dryer months. They create a cocoon from old skin that helps to seal in moisture whilst the frog buries itself in the ground to wait for the rainy season to come.

Your African Bull Frog is unlikely to go into estivation, if temperatures and humidity are controlled successfully, but if you experience a drop in temperatures or humidity within your terrarium, your African Bull Frog may start to estivate.You should not feed or disturb your African Bull Frog during estivation, but fresh de-chlorinated water should always be available.

Bring your African Bull Frog out of Estivation by slowly raising the temperatures or creating higher humidity over a few days. This should awaken your African Bull Frog and bring them back to normal activity.

Hunting and feeding

This is where things get a bit hairy for my taste. These guys eat lots and lots of really big bugs, fish (guppies, I am told, are pretty good feeders) and mice. This frog has toothlike projections on its lower jaw to restrain struggling prey. They will eat pretty much anything that will fit in their mouths or that they can overpower, including mice, lizards, and other frogs. Large insects and worms should be left on the rocks, though these guys will eat them from the surface of the water too. Dead mice are best offered either by hand or using forceps (again, get the kind with round balls on the ends so you don't risk injuring the frog when he lunges at the food!) It is generally recommended that you house these frogs alone (except for breeding) in order to avoid cannibalism. Eeek!


Pixie frogs emerge from their burrows when the rains come, hurrying to establish breeding territory. Once territory is established, males begin their deep mating calls. Females are attracted to the largest males. The female lays up to 4000 eggs. The male keeps the eggs moist and defends them from predators, until they hatch two days later. Tadpoles take 19 days to morph into small frogs. Maturity is reached in two to three years.

The easiest way to determine the sex of your African Bull Frog is by listening, as males will call during the mating season. They will also develop broader heads than the female, have yellow or orange chests and grow to a larger size.

Females are usually a lot smaller than the males, tend to have beigey cream coloured undersides and can retain a dorsal stripe as they grow.

The breeding season for wild African Bull Frogs is brought about by the on-set of heavy rains. Temporary pools are created by the wet weather, which are quickly taken over by the males, who will call and fight to attract the best mate. During amplexus up to 4,000 eggs can be spawned, which are then guarded fiercely by the males until they hatch.

African Bull Frogs in captivity are unlikely to breed in a small terrarium, so if you are planning to breed your frogs you will need a large pool or pond within a secure green house. Some Breeders have also found children’s paddling pools useful in providing room for your African Bull Frogs to breed.

Once spawned, eggs will hatch within 2 days and metamorphosis into froglets takes approximately 2 to 4 weeks.


These guys blow up like balloons when freaked out! They spend much of the year underground, but come to the surface after a heavy rain to breed. By the way, the males of this species are known to give a hearty bite now and then, so watch those fingers!


Males can grow up to about 20-25cm (8-10 inches), whilst females are smaller and can reach about 11- 15cm (4-6 inches).

Anatomy / Physical Characteristics

Pixie frogs have large, broad bodies. Males can reach up to ten inches in length and weigh up to four pounds. Females are larger than males in most amphibian species, but female pixie frogs are about half the size. Male pixie frogs are olive green, with yellow or orange throats and underbellies. Females are lighter green, with white throats and underbellies. Both sexes have spade-like appendages, used for digging, on their rear legs.

Adapts to temperature extremes dropping below freezing, and rising to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, for extended periods of time.

  • Details
  • Democratic Republic of the Congo -Sub-Saharan areas of South Africa.

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