Check out my podcast on the Ethics of feeding mice to Giant African Bullfrogs
I have a fairly successful video on YouTube called Giant African Bullfrogs eating everything in sight. What started off as a fun project to watch my frogs grow and eat has grown completely out of hand.
The views started off slow but after 6 months or so they came pouring in by the thousands. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I put it up in 2015. I probably thought it would get 100 views tops. I never expected it’d get over 30.5 million views, 121 thousand likes, 28 thousand dislikes, and 35 thousand comments in just 3 years.
“This video must be pretty special” you might be thinking to yourself. Nope. It’s just a montage of my Giant African Bullfrogs eating worms, roaches, and mice. I have no idea why it’s blown up so much but I’m not complaining. They say the Lord works in mysterious ways- I’m reminded of that every time I see my wife’s engagement ring which was purchased with money my frog video generated. We call it “frog-money”.
My friends and family have been suggesting that I write a blog post explaining the video a bit but the thought of connecting my blog followers with my YouTube followers gave me great pause. You YouTubers are so weird! I didn’t want to cross pollinate all that madness into my precious blog site. But the time has come. The people need answers.
Before I get into some background info on the video and some thoughts on the ethics of feeding frogs live mice, I want to share a bit of the lunacy that characterizes the comment section. If you peruse through the 35 thousand comments for any length of time, you can expect to find thousands of comments calling the frogs “thicc”. You can expect to be told thousands of times that it looks like the frog dabs at the 1:30 mark. You can expect to see lots of people calling themselves or their ex-girlfriends fat by comparing them to the frogs. You can expect lots and lots of comments calling the frogs Jobba the Hut. And if you look long enough you can find some pretty funny ones too (excuse the language):
But this one takes the cake:
My friends and I found that gem on the night of my bachelor party. We were talking about my frog video and I told them how crazy the comments can get so we looked up the top one and bam! We were dying.
With some of that craziness out of the way, let’s get into some facts.
Giant African Bullfrogs
Giant African Bullfrogs are also known as “Pixie frogs” which comes from their Latin name Pyxicephalus Adspersus, meaning “small head” and what ever adspersus means. The females are smaller than the males, which is unusual for frogs, and they have a tiny little head. The males have a large shovel-like head. They’re native to South Africa where they spend half the year dried up under ground. When the rains come, they swell back up, pop up out of the ground, eat everything in sight, and begin battling it out in the flooded marshes to see who’s the top frog (. The winners get to breed the most and also stick around to take care of all the tadpoles. As the flooded pools dry up, the remaining males excavate little channels and divert the tadpoles into deeper pools. Watch it here, It’s truly amazing!
When the tad poles turn into Pixie’s they’re only about the size of a quarter. That’s the size mine where when I got them. But they grow quickly; within the span of nine months, all my frogs were massive. They went from barely eating a cricket or two, to gulping down mice.
My video is a montage of my five Giant African Bullfrogs filmed over the course of nine or ten months. All of my frogs turned out to be males, which was exactly what I was hoping for. Like I said above, the guys get much bigger. I bought each frog for around thirty bucks, from four different reptiles dealers. The frogs require a ton of care so I had to sell them before I left for my year long stint in Puerto Rico. I sold them to a good dude in Texas who made them an outdoor enclosure. Now that I’m back in Illinois, I’m planning on getting a few more frogs soon.
I fed my frogs a staple of night crawlers and dubia roaches. I would buy six to eight tubs of night crawlers at a time from the fisherman’s section of Walmart. The cashiers always gave me strange looks- and rightly so. I mostly bought my roaches from eBay. You can get babies or adults for super cheap. Now dubia roaches are not cockroaches. The former are tropical roaches, that means if they escape into your home they’ll die (unless you live somewhere tropical, then you’re screwed). Dubias can’t fly, they don’t bite, they aren’t super quick, they can’t climb smooth surfaces, they don’t smell, and they don’t make noise, and they don’t infest your house.
With one adult being worth up to thirty crickets in nutritional value, they make the perfect food for a bullfrog. I created my own roach colony in my basement so I would have a self-sustaining source of food for the frogs.
A dual reason for the roach colony was to help me get over my deep existential hatred for roaches. Any time I see a cockroach a black rage overtakes me and I lose all control of my speech. I think this was instilled in me by my dad who would tell me horror stories of roach infestations when I was a child- but this is content for another blog post and maybe for a therapist.
Back to the dubia roaches. I would feed the roaches puppy kibble, which is high in protein, and I would add calcium powder for the frogs bones. The roaches are basically a delivery system for feeding protein to the frogs. They would eat protein, calcium, and sometimes fruit and veggies, then the frogs eat them and get all beefed up.
In the video you’ll see that most of the footage of the frogs eating is from inside a clear plastic tub. This was their feeding tub. I started out feeding my frogs in their tanks, which were half water and half land (ground up coconut fiber). The frogs would spend half of their time in the water, where they relieved themselves, and half of their time buried or nearly buried in the coco fiber.
When I would throw food into the tank for them, I noticed that they would attack my hand every time I reached in to clean their water. I read online that feeding them in a tub trains them to expect food in the tub and will lead to less attacks in the tank so I switched to that method. Though one of my college roommates hand fed the frogs (against my advice) in it’s tank and ended up getting bit and bleeding all over the place (pixie frogs have two big teeth on their bottom jaw and lots of tiny sharp teeth on their top jaw, all of which, coupled with exceptionally powerful muscles, can give a nasty bite. Look for yourself here).
Another constant through-line in the video’s comment section is the “why mice? you’re a monster!” comment. This is understandable to me. There’s something unsettling about an amphibian or reptile eating a mammal. Maybe it’s some sort of biological connection we feel. Whatever the case, it feels wrong to some and I get that.
So how could I, or why would I feed live mice to frogs? There are lots of reasons. Most online sources say that a pixie frog should eat a mouse once a month for calcium and fat. Another reason is that the mice take longer to digest so before I’d go on a trip or if I was going to take a long weekend at home, I’d feed the frogs a mouse to tide them over till I came back to my college townhouse.
“But why live mice? Couldn’t you feed them dead ones?” Yeah, I could have and did on occasion but I don’t know what they use to kill the mice and I didn’t want to risk passing that on to my frogs. I certainly didn’t want to do the killing. Also, the dead mice that you can buy are frozen and it’s a huge hassle to thaw them out. If the mouse was still frozen at all it might be too hard for the frog to digest; I didn’t like risking impaction. But honestly, one of the main reasons I got the frogs was because they could eat mice. It’s crazy. Who woulda thought that there are monster frogs out there, with teeth, that eat mice? I think that’s pretty spectacular.
It might also be worth mentioning that these frogs sit around all day waiting to ambush a big meal like a mouse. They’re killers! They’re meant to gulp down everything that moves past their face. So another reason I fed them live mice was to trigger their predatory instincts. I didn’t like the lazy lethargic looking frogs I saw on YouTube that were tong fed only dead things. Feeding my frogs mice, that were bred to be feeder mice, brought them a little joy and gave me a sense of awe and wonder- it was well worth it.
I think that about wraps it all up. If you’re here from YouTube, stick around and read some more of my posts- but leave your loonbaggery over there. If you’re from WordPress, check out my frog video, but watch out for the rabid YouTubers, you’ve been warned.