The Budgett’s Frogs, though very cute frogs, are quite aggressive and will bite!

The Budgett’s Frog lepidobatrachus laevis is an adorable looking frog. It has a wide comical face and a body that seems entirely too large for its legs. These surprising characteristics have led to a common name for the Budgett’s, which aptly describes these funny frogs, the “Hippo Frog”.

As darling as it appears however, the Budgett’s Frog is one of those cute frogs that will not hesitate to bite. It has its mind on one thing, food. It has a big mouth and can eat large prey. Then once it grabs ahold of something it doesn’t like to let go. Their chomp and hold attitude has won them the nickname “Freddie Kruger Frogs”, both in their native home of Argentina and in the pet trade.

The Budgett’s Frog is recommended as a good pet for the intermediate to advanced frog keeper. Though sporadically bred since the 1990’s, it is just now becoming more readily available at shows, expos, and some pet stores. It was first imported from Argentina and Paraguay, but also occurs in Bolivia. This is one of the Leptodactylid Frogs that is proving to be an interesting and unusual pet frog.

Scientific Classification


Scientific Name

Lepidobatrachus laevis

Habitat: Distribution/Background

The Budgett’s Frog Lepidobatrachus laevis was first described by Budgett in 1899. The Budgett’s Frog occurs naturally in Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay. Other common names for the Budgett’s Frog are the Hippo Frog and the Freddie Kruger Frog.


The Lepidobatrachus laevis is on the IUCN Red List for Endangered Species as Least Concern (LC).

At its current levels, the Budgett’s Frog is not considered to be threatened by the pet trade. It is common in the northern portion of its range but is rare and declining in Argentina. The exact reasons for its decline are unknown, but may be affected by fires and over-grazing by livestock. Habitat destruction for agriculture is also a threat in Argentina.


The Budgett’s Frog resembles a squashed, bumpy pancake. Though not reaching more than 4.5 inches (11.5 cm) in length, this frog more than makes up for its short length in its width. This frog is a wonder to look at with an olive green background coloring, patterned with splotches of tans and darker greens, and has webbed hind feet.

In the juvenile stage the color is not as bright, but its long comical mouth will more than amuse you until it reaches that bright shade of olive green. Babies cannot be visually sexed, but as adults the male’s throat is dark and on a female it is gray or whitish. The female is also the larger sex. They can live for more than 5 years.

Food and Feeding

As with a lot of other frogs, the Budgett’s Frog will eat crickets (and small mice as adults), but they are semi-aquatic and so have also branched into the world of fish. All items offered as food should be dusted with a calcium and mineral supplement, as these frogs are sensitive to metabolic bone disease, a deadly softening of the bones.

The larger your frog grows, the larger prey items you can begin to offer. If you do try and feed even a small mouse, kill the prey item before you offer it to your frog. A live mouse can do a lot of damage to your frog before getting eaten. Very small mice, fed only once a month or less, are recommended.


A ten to twenty gallon aquarium is well-suited for the Budgett’s Frog. Smooth river rocks are the best substrate to fill the bottom of the aquarium. Regular aquarium gravel, often sold for fish, can cause digestive problems for the frog if they are ingested accidentally with prey. The river stones are larger and smooth and don’t run the risk of being ingested.

The rocks in the enclosure should have a sloping design, producing a large area for the frog to get out of the water, but providing an equally large area of water for the frog to occupy. A twenty gallon long is the ideal size to accomplish this design. The water placed in the tank and used to rinse the river rocks should be decholrinated with any of the many commercially available products.

The Budgett’s Frog will do just fine at room temperature, between about 72{deg} – 84{deg} F is acceptable.

Cage Care

For proper Budgett’s Frog care, absolute cleanliness cannot be stressed enough when dealing with these frogs. Budgett’s frogs absorb almost all of their moisture through their skin. If they are allowed contact with chemicals, bacteria-ridden water, or other dangerous substances, this is then absorbed into their skin, which could easily cause disease. The gravel should be thoroughly rinsed weekly. Water bowls should be changed at least every other day.


These frogs are carnivorous and, indeed, cannibalistic. If presented with any other frog smaller than themselves, or cramped for room, they wouldn’t think twice about eating their ‘companion’. If you choose to keep two frogs together, double the space you provide, make sure that both frogs are about the same size, and keep them well fed.


These frogs are not the easiest to handle and their bite is quite painful. If you are new to frogs, it might be easiest to simply set the frog up and watch if you’re worried about catching a bite. These frogs don’t like to let go once they’ve grabbed you, though they eventually will.

Handling is not highly recommended, though any person with experience handling horned toads (Ceratophrys species) and their relatives, would not have as much trouble. Visit your local pet store for more information for handling the Budgett’s Frog and to see an example of one of these amazing frogs for yourself.


The Budgett’s Frog is considered a more difficult frog to breed due to the difficulty in rearing the young in captivity. Though a female may be sexually mature by about one year, it is best to wait until she is two years of age before breeding.

A female Budgett’s Frog can lay up to 1,500 eggs and they have quite an explosive development. The eggs will hatch within just two days of being laid. The tadpoles also grow quickly and will metamorphose into a frog in just two weeks. They are aggressive carnivores and will even eat their siblings whole. They may be induced to eat fish and worms but can be difficult to raise and need considerable calcium.

Diseases: Ailments/Treatments

The Budgett’s Frog is very hardy, but as with all frog species health and hygiene go hand in hand. Providing a proper environment and keeping it clean is the best way to keep a happy healthy frog. “Redleg”, an infection with Aeromonas, is caused by poor water quality or dirty substrate.

Along with many other frogs, Budgett’s Frogs are highly prone to metabolic bone disease. Especially with their large size and lightening fast growth rate, it is essential that these frogs get all the calcium you can get into them. We suggest dusting their prey items lightly with a mix of 1/3 calcium (with D3) and 2/3 multivitamins once every other to every third feeding.


The Budgett’s Frog has been bred sporadically by frog breeders since the early 1990s but are not commonly available, even today. Luckily they are becoming more common at shows and expos, and at pet stores that carry a variety of amphibians.



Featured Image Credit: tanya.asfir, Shutterstock