Malaysian Horned Frogs



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Malaysian Horned Frog
Although dorsal coloration varies in Malaysian horned frogs, they are typically a shade of red or brown.

Feed These Leaves
Once Malaysian horned frogs are settled in a new environment, feeding is rarely a problem. Megophrys nasuta accepts a variety of prey insects (including crickets, cockroaches, silkworms, king worms and waxworms) and the occasional small mouse. I primarily feed my frogs crickets due to the ease of obtaining and culturing them. I typically feed frogs three times a week and allocate approximately five feeders per frog.

As with any captive amphibian, insects must be properly gut loaded before being offered to Malaysian horned frogs. A variety of products are available at pet stores and online. Along with these nutrient-rich insect diets, it is important to provide moisture in the form of fruit and vegetable matter. I typically feed feeder insects carrots, sweet potatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, oranges, apples, or collard and mustard greens. Other fruits and vegetables can be offered, but minimize those containing high levels of oxalates, such as spinach and kale. Oxalates can bind calcium and prevent its absorption in a frog’s gastrointestinal system.

Vitamin and mineral supplements are important to amphibian health. Many supplements are on the market, and it is difficult to sort through them all. The key is to provide an appropriate source of calcium and Vitamin D3 when a source of UVB light is not provided. New evidence also suggests that pre-formed Vitamin A is an important component in the diet of developing carnivorous amphibians. The supplement Repashy Superfoods Calcium Plus ICB now provides a source of pre-formed Vitamin A. Dust insects with an appropriate vitamin and mineral supplement once a week.

I prefer to remove my Malaysian horned frogs from their naturalistic enclosures and place them in an empty plastic feeding container to prevent the ingestion of foreign material. In my experience, these frogs are explosive and indiscriminate feeders, and necropsies performed by my veterinarian have revealed a variety of foreign materials within the gastrointestinal tract. A separate feeding container also prevents the buildup of decaying insect material in the vivarium water. However, it is not necessary in simple enclosures with substrates such as paper towels or foam rubber.

Breed With Success
Breeding the Malaysian horned frog (Megophrys nasuta) in captivity has been achieved with some regularity in Europe, but this species is rarely captive bred in the United States. Records from Europe are well-described in literature, and there is one record of an individual that recently achieved captive reproduction in the United States.

The primary obstacle is obtaining healthy female Malaysian horned frogs. In the past, many distributors have offered “pairs” that often turned out to be males of differing sizes. When true females became available, they were often in poor health, undoubtedly the result of females being housed with larger numbers of conspecific males in peak breeding condition. However, in the past five years the condition of wild-caught females has improved.

It is important to provide a relatively cool and dry period for approximately one month before any breeding attempts. I typically reduce the temperature gradually to the low 70s (degrees Fahrenheit) and reduce the relative humidity to about 50 percent.

Following this period, simulated rainfall often encourages male Malaysian horned frogs to vocalize. It is best to synchronize artificial rainstorms with periods of low barometric pressure in order to more closely approximate a natural weather pattern. During this time, feed animals once a week, so they maintain their body condition and do not become emaciated. It may be beneficial to feed females more food at each feeding (10 to 12 crickets for adult frogs), but reduce the frequency of feeding to prevent disturbing the animals.

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Malaysian Horned Frog
A simple cage setup for Malaysian horned frogs includes a plastic bin and top. Placing ventilation screening at the top of the enclosure prevents snout abrasions.
Malaysian Horned Frog
Malaysian horned frogs huddle in a simple setup with paper towels dampened with spring water. The water dish provides the amphibians with an opportunity to soak when needed.

Malaysian horned frogs are described as solitary breeders. It is unlikely that a higher ratio of males to females will increase breeding success. Spawning occurs one to three weeks after the initiation of simulated rainfall. Eggs are typically attached to the underside of a half-round of cork bark that forms a sort of cave over the water section. The white eggs are either suspended over the water or laid directly on the water surface.

Malaysian horned frog larvae hatch one week after spawning, and they begin feeding after 15 to 20 days. As filter feeders, the larvae possess a large upturned oral disc that allows them to eat food from the water surface. An appropriate diet for this stage includes pulverized fish food or a diet designed specifically for tadpoles that remain on the surface.

Kept at temperatures between 76 and 78 degrees, Malaysian horned frog tadpoles develop hind limbs in approximately 75 days. Swimming behavior then changes. The frogs remain at the bottom of the aquarium, and their mouthparts begin to regress.

Forelimbs emerge within the next few days. At this time the water level should be lowered to around 1 inch deep, and cork bark should be provided to allow the Malaysian horned frogs to readily exit the water. Roughly a half-inch long at metamorphosis, froglets can be housed in small storage containers, such as 15-quart Sterilite shoeboxes, with moist foam rubber as a substrate. It doesn’t take long before they’re adults. With optimal care, sexual maturity is attained at just under 1 year of age (Zimmerman, 1986).

The Honk Betrays
In nature the Malaysian horned frog inhabits the rain forests of southern Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Tioman Island, Singapore, Sumatra, Bintan Island, the Natuna Islands and all parts of Borneo. Occurring up to elevations of 3,280 feet, they are encountered primarily near small streams, and the males’ loud call, described as a metallic honk, often gives them away. Females are much more difficult to find. They spend the majority of their time hidden in leaf litter and do not produce vocalizations.

A Remarkable Amphibian
The Malaysian horned frog is truly remarkable in its appearance. I still remember my first encounter with this species at an expo in San Diego, Calif. One vendor had a large group available, and I was astonished by the diversity present within this single species. Each animal was unique in its coloration and pattern.

I continue to work with a large group of these astonishing animals. Malaysian horned frogs are undoubtedly one of my favorite anuran species. With proper care they can live more than six years in captivity. Captive longevity will undoubtedly increase as more captive-bred individuals become available in the hobby.

It would be nice if that happened. Although Megophrys nasuta is widely distributed in the wild, every effort should be made to establish Malaysian horned frogs in captivity in order to reduce collection pressure on wild populations. Back to Page One>>

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