In the last months I have been unwittingly transformed into a serial killer of pac man frogs, also known as Cranwell’s horned frogs, scientific name Ceratophrys cranwelli. I have managed to kill three, and the fourth current one isn’t in its best state. Yes, I manage to kill that frog which is a synonym for tenacity and hardiness.
I am killing them because I am trying to make them eat a lot and grow to a big size quickly. My first frog grew normally, and because I didn’t know at first how large a meal he could it, I wasn’t confident to force-feed him. He grew well, passed through a hibernation, proved to be a male afterwards, and then something bad happened. I got a large mouse for him, and because he didn’t wanted it, I force-fed him and broke his jaw. Then I couldn’t do anything, and just passed him through an estivation to sort out his own problems. After two months that he woke up, the bone had set again, leaving only a small bump. A month later, I gave him a mouse the snake had refused, although he was carrying food and feces in his belly. At that time, he was too accustomed to get food from me, that he would not hunt on his own. The days he would spring from within the soil and catch everything were gone sadly. Anyway the frog didn’t accept it, I fed it to him again, and he choked on it.
The same happened with my other subsequent pac man frogs. Now I was giving them food based on the proportions an adult would take, and they had difficulty eating it. I didn’t let them get hungry enough to catch their own food. Both choked to death. The first was a light colored specimen with light browns and greens, and the second a vividly green frog, with a little brown. The current one is a beautiful mostly brown young specimen that underwent the same treatment, just to be sure that he would be able to eat the size of insects and inverts I have to offer. His willingness to open his mouth to everything tempts me also to force-feed. His belly was already full, so he had problem swallowing the new prey item. Today he is still alive, but I am leaving him for two more days undisturbed to monitor his progress.
In this case, their instincts work against them. These animals are incredibly stupid, you must have one in order to realize how stupid they could be. It is a myth though that they cannot spit a very large item out. They can perfectly do it, but if you insist on feeding it to them, they will finally try to swallow it. And here is the time their instincts work against them. When they swallow, they shut their mouth and try to push whatever further back. If you open their mouth at this stage, either to help them swallow or remove the mouthful or add another food, they just clamp down on your finger continuously, preventing you of helping them. They clamp down so hard, that they deform their lower jaw. The current frog clamped down on his own tongue without realizing anything. I am worried he will have some damage, although his tongue seemed normal today. They just cannot understand that the thing they are trying to do is impossible. So the mouthful stays for a lot of time in their mouth, blocks their airway, then they get less and less oxygen, their lungs and body collapse, they loose the strength to either swallow or spit the mouthful out, start releasing urine, their eyelids fall, they go limp, loose the ability to right themselves and can even die. At this stage, if you try to push the mouthful back to help them, they might regurgitate material from their not empty stomachs and make the situation worse. Then they usually die. And you notice it the next day, when they start to smell rotting.
If my current frog dies, I don’t know what to do. I am overdoing it because I don’t trust their own instincts. I believe that they eat to little on their own and cannot grow. My first frog was acquired at spring, where the natural improving of the weather helped him, while the current frogs are supported with a heat pad, which creates uneven temperature and humidity gradients in the soil. If I am not careful enough with humidity, the frogs will start to cocoon. I am going to leave them to cocoon eventually, but before that they must grow. What should I do? Should I feed less?