Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Ornate Horned Frog

(Ceratophrys ornata)

Habitat and Distribution: Found near temporary water bodies in grasslands and forests of Northern Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil’s Rio Grande del Sul region.

Size: Up to 6 inches long

Wild Diet: Will eat any prey that fits in its mouth, including insects, mice, lizards, snakes, small birds, and other frogs.

Predators: Birds, snakes, and bears

Lifespan: 6-10 years

Reproduction: Ornate horned frogs are ready to mate at 18-24 months. Females deposit 1,000-2,000 eggs in standing water and they hatch after a few weeks. Tadpoles metamorphose within 2 weeks of hatching and can reach their full adult size in 5 months.

Behavior: Ornate horned frogs are terrestrial, solitary, and usually active during the day. Juveniles are active hunters, but adults are passive: They burrow into leaves and mud on the forest floor, wait for prey to wander close, then ambush their prey and swallow it whole.

Conservation

IUCN Status: Near Threatened

Ornate horned frog populations are in decline. Like all amphibians, ornate horned frogs are very sensitive to changes in the environment because of their porous skin. Agricultural development, water pollution, and soil pollution have degraded and restricted their natural habitat; they have already been forced out of some areas of Uruguay. This species is also collected for the pet trade and for scientific research.

Did you know?

  • Ornate horned frogs are also known as "ornate pac-man frogs" because their large mouths are reminiscent of the video game character Pac-Man.
  • Their tadpoles can make distress calls under and above water. They are the first vertebrate larva known to make sounds at all!
  • They are called "horned" frogs due to the elongated skin folds over their eyes that stick straight up, resembling horns.