Are Surinam Horned Frogs (Amazon Horned Frogs) Good Pets For Families?

The Surinam horned frogs, also known as the Amazon horned frogs belong to the genus of frogs in the family Ceratophryidae. The frog species also belongs to South American horned frogs that are native to northern parts of South America. But Are Surinam horned frogs or Amazon horned frogs are good pets? Let’s have a look:

surinam horned frogs  pets

Everything About Surinam Horned Frogs:

In a Glimpse:

Common NameSurinam horned frogs
Scientific NameCeratophrys cornuta
Other NamesAmazon horned frog
Maximum Length8 inches
Maximum Weight450-550 grams
RangesSouth America
HabitatWarm and Moist Environment 
IUCN StatusLeast Concern
Lifespan1-5 years

Geographical Range:

Surinam horned frogs are endemic to the Amazon basin of Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Guiana, Peru, and Brazil. The frogs can also be found in the other parts of South America in small quantities.


Amazon horned frogs require a warm and moist environment to thrive. The horned frogs are terrestrial by nature and prefer tropical rainforests where freshwater sources (such as marshes, ponds, lakes, etc) are available. These frogs love to hide within the leaves on the forest floor.

Physical Description: How do you identify an Amazon Horned frog?

amazon horned frog size food facts

Amazon horned frogs are the most attractive South American horned frogs due to their horn-like structure over their eyes, which is higher than other horned frogs. Their body is round and their mouth is extremely large compared to their body. Their mouth is also exceptionally wide and they also have horned-like structures above their eyes. These frogs are bulky and can weigh up to 450-550 grams and measure up to 20 cm or 8 inches in snout-to-vent length.

Surinam horned frogs have grey ventral surface and their limbs are short and dark in colour. The thighs are brown with faint yellow spotting. Their bodies display small pointed warts which are caused by viral infections. Their wide mouth is white or grey.

Sexual dimorphism is present in the frog species as females are larger than males. The colour of males varies from tan or lime to dark green whereas females only display tan. The throat of both sexes are black and there aren’t many differences between the sexes other than size. The males have nuptial pads on the toes of the front feet which help in gripping the females firmly during amplexus.

Are Suriname Horned frogs and Argentine Horned frogs (Pacman frogs) the same?

Previously, wildlife researchers used to believe that these two horned frogs were the same. But later study revealed that Surinam horned frogs are different than their cousin Argentine horned frogs or Pacman frogs because they both inhibit in different habitats. Also, Amazon horned frogs don’t interbreed with Argentine horned frogs in the wild (but may do so in captive care). Also, due to their bigger size, Surinam horned frogs prey upon Pacman frogs. 

Are Amazon horned frogs poisonous?

Similar to other South American horned frogs, Amazon horned frogs are not poisonous or don’t secrete any toxic substances from their skins. As a part of their defence mechanism, they deliver a painful bite to the attackers using the odontoids (toothlike structure).


The appetite of Surinam horned frogs is voracious and they are completely carnivorous by nature. Similar to Argentine horned frogs, they eat almost everything that fits in their mouth. These frogs also show cannibalism or they consume their own species and tadpoles. Mice, fish, tadpoles, insects, spiders, invertebrates, and other smaller frogs are their main diet.

Predators and Threats:

amazon horned frog habitat

It is very hard to catch Amazon horned frogs as the frog species camouflage themselves with the surroundings. It is also believed that their horns help them to camouflage as predators think the horns are part of any stems, leaves, or trees. However, Snakes, birds, beers, and other wild animals are their main predators.

The horned frogs also face many anthropogenic threats in the wild. They are largely affected by human activities such as the destruction of Amazon rainforests, expansion of agriculture, human settlements, and development projects in that area, and increasing pollution levels pose a big threat to the frog species. However, due to their aggressiveness towards humans, often locals kill the frogs believing the myth that they are venomous.

Conservation Status:

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the population of Surinam horned frogs is stable in the wild and hence they listed the horned frogs in the “Least Concern” category.


Like other wild amphibian species, Amazon horned frogs are prone to being infected by various parasites and fungi, such as chytrid fungus which causes deadly skin disease to frogs and other amphibians such as Mountain Chicken frogs, American Bullfrogs, Pickerel frogs, Pixie frogs, and Smoky Jungle frogs.


Usually, South American horned frogs live 1-5 years in the wild and Amazon horned frogs are no exception. But in captive care, the frogs can live up to 10-16 years, depending on the care and health condition of the frog.


Surinam horned frogs are nocturnal and solitary by nature. The frogs only come out during the night to avoid the excessive hotness of the sunlight. The most notable behaviour of these frogs is how they hunt their prey. 

The Amazon horned frogs bury themselves within the leaves on the ground with only the head sticking out and also use camouflage so the prey doesn’t understand the trap. Hidden in this manner, the horned frogs can wait a long time until something edible passes by, and the frogs strike them with their long sticky tongue. 


During the breeding season, male Surinam horned frogs attract the females using a special vocalization. Also, when the males fight with each other, they produce a noisy bleating sound.

Are Surinam horned frogs aggressive?

surinam horned frog habitat

Yes, Surinam horned frogs are very aggressive frogs to humans, dogs, cats, or other animals. If they are threatened, they can attack any animals including humans, dogs, and cats, and deliver a very painful bite that may require medical attention. But the frogs are not poisonous.

Amazon horned frogs are terrestrial and the males defend their territory very aggressively and violently. They often wrestle and fight with other frogs for their territory as well as for their mating rights. Not only the adults, but the tadpoles of the horned frogs also attack each other just after being hatched. 

Physical Activities:

Amazon horned frogs can’t jump well due to their bulky body but they can run at a speed of 5 mph or 8 kmph for a short distance and then take some rest and run again. Also, the horned frogs are not good swimmers, however they can swim in shallow water.

Ecological Importance:

Surinam horned frogs are an important part of the food web as many snakes and prey birds consume them to meet their nutrition level. However, as the horned frogs consume insects and mice, they are also used in pest control and rodent control.

Are Surinam horned frogs or Amazon horned frogs good pets for families?

Unlike Pacman frogs, Surinam (Amazon) horned frogs are exotic but very uncommon choices for pets. The frog species often attracts pet lovers for their horn-like structure over their eyes. Amazon horned frogs are lazy, nocturnal, easy to care for, and low-maintenance pets once you set up their habitat. 

surinam horned frog predators

If you want a pet for communication and play, then this might not be a good choice for you. But if you just want to look at their activities, such as movements, hunting techniques, camouflage, etc, then the Surinam horned frog can be a good option for you.

There are certain threats are also associated with the frogs that you must know. If you have kids and old people at your home, keep them away from the frog. Because the bite of an Amazon horned frog is very painful and they may not tolerate such pain. The bite force of these frogs is more than 30 newtons which is not a joke. Also sometimes, they can be very aggressive to humans, so be very careful while maintaining them. 

As Surinam horned frogs are prone to be attacked by parasites and Chytrid fungus, you should check the frogs regularly. If you find any symptoms, consult a veterinary surgeon as soon as possible.

These horned frogs also have a very voracious appetite. The frogs may help you to keep your house insect-free but if you have other frogs or amphibians as pets, keep them away from Surinam horned frogs or they might kill other frogs. 

Hence, it is advised to think twice before buying such aggressive frogs if you have a family. However, as these frogs are not poisonous, they might not harm others if they don’t come close to the horned frogs.

How do you buy an Amazon Horned frog?

Amazon horned frogs are not very common in the pet markets. You might find them in the illegal pet market but please don’t buy them. Because buying illegally captured frogs will encourage trafficking and poaching frogs from the wild which is a big threat to the species. Also, illegally captured frogs are prone to be attacked by fungi and other parasites and they don’t live long.

amazon horned frogs

It is advised to buy Surinam horned frogs from a reputed breeder or pet shop and also ensure that the frog is born and bred in captivity. Before buying, check if the frog is healthy or not. You can check its skin if it is free of blemishes, and if the frog is active enough, then you can buy that frog. Also, try to feed the horned frog, remember only an ill-horned frog will refuse your offer. Before buying also ask for proof of origin, health certificate, and other important documents from the seller.

Before purchasing any frog, you must know about the laws of your country or region about that species (if it is banned or needs a permit to keep as pets). However, you can buy them from online platforms as well. But check their reviews, policy, and other information before buying.

How much a Surinam horned frog will cost, completely depends on its age, sex, size, health condition, region, and availability of the frog. Roughly you need to spend more than $60 to buy one frog.

Requirements and Care: 

surinam horned frogs  pets care tanks

Enclosure and Substrate:

Surinam horned frogs are not known for activeness and hence they don’t try to escape the enclosure. You need a 20-gallon tank that has a secure lid and proper ventilation for one frog. As the frogs are not good swimmers, you need a shallow water dish in which the frogs can sit and drink water without drowning. You’ll also need a few live or artificial plants that will provide the frogs a place to hide during the daytime.

As Amazon horned frogs thrive in highly humid conditions, you need a substrate that can hold moisture for a long time. You may use coconut fibre, sterile potting soil, and sphagnum moss as substrate but remember the substrate must be 2-3 inches deep which will allow the frogs to dig or burrow.

Temperature and Humidity:

Amazon horned frogs require warm but humid conditions to survive. The temperature of the enclosure during the daytime should be 78-84 degrees Fahrenheit and at night the temperature must be a bit cooler. You can use a thermometer to monitor the temperature. In case, the tank is cold, use a heat lamp or heat mat to increase the temperature but avoid overheating it.

Use a hygrometer to maintain the humidity level at 70-90%. You can use a fogger to maintain the humidity or you can simply sprinkle water several times a day to maintain the high humidity level.


The frogs need a 12-hour day-night circle to regulate their daily activities. You can use a low-wattage fluorescent bulb or UVA/UVB lights for this purpose.

Food and Water:

It is very easy to feed your Surinam horned frogs as they usually don’t refuse food. However, how much food is required depends on their age, sex, health condition, and appetite level. You can feed the tadpoles daily but feed an adult frog every other day to prevent obesity.

Tadpoles are omnivorous as they consume small insects as well as algae but adults are strictly carnivorous. You can feed them with crickets, spiders,  locusts, gut-loaded mealworms, wax worms, and fish. For a change, you can also feed them with pinky mice, but not more than twice a month or it’ll increase their fat level. Only give them clean dechlorinated water that is free from germs.


Amazon horned frogs don’t like handling at all. If you really want to communicate with them, just feed them with soft-tipped tongs. Don’t touch them unnecessarily, or it might cause stress to them. Wear gloves before touching them and wash your hands after. Remember, the frogs can bite; be careful while touching them. Also, prevent your kids from touching them or the frogs might injure your kids.


You need to clean the water dish, waste foods, and dead insects regularly to prevent bacterial growth. Deep clean the tank once a month with a mild disinfectant and rinse it with dechlorinated water thoroughly. Change the substrate whenever it is necessary.

Despite their limitations, Surinam horned frogs or Amazon horned frogs can be unique and exotic pets to you if you can meet their requirements. In captive care, with proper monitoring and treatments, the frogs can live up to 16 years.


Can you keep two Surinam horned frogs or Amazon horned frogs in the same container? Or can you keep the frogs with other frog species?

Surinam horned frogs are solitary and very aggressive (especially) while defending their territories and also show cannibalism. Hence, they can kill other frogs as well as can consume their own species too. Hence, it is advised to keep only one Amazon horned frog in one container. 

Reference: Wikipedia

Also Read:

Are Common Surinam Toads Suitable Pets For Beginners?

Pacman Frogs: Can You Keep Argentine Horned Frogs as Pets?

Are Waxy Monkey Tree Frogs Good Pets? 11 Interesting Facts About Green Leaf Frogs

Are Glass Frogs Suitable Pets for Beginners? Everything You Should Know Before Buying

Daniel Caves, a renowned journalist and expert in the field of animals and pets, has dedicated his career to shedding light on the fascinating world of animal behavior, welfare, and conservation. With a passion for storytelling and a deep understanding of the bond between humans and animals, Daniel's work has captivated audiences worldwide, inspiring compassion and advocacy for our furry, feathered, and scaled companions. His insightful reporting and expertise have earned him recognition as a leading voice in the field, shaping conversations and driving positive change for the welfare of animals everywhere.

Sharing Is Caring:

Leave a comment