Pacman Frog Estivation (Hibernation) – The Complete Guide

Pacman frogs, as most cold-blooded animals, like spending their lives in hot and humid areas of the world. Once wintertime arrives in such tropical and subtropical environments, they protect themselves with the tools that mother nature provided them.

Such state is somewhat of a partial hibernation, called more precisely “estivation”. In this article you will learn everything you should know about Pacman frog estivation.

As just explained, this is normal to happen in their natural habitats once colder weather occurs. However, with terrariums which can maintain ideal temperature and humidity levels, pet frogs should never go into such state.

Unless, of course, their environment stops being ideal. This means that if the air they breathe is too cold or too dry, they will force themselves into estivation to try surviving.

Signs of Pacman Frog’s Estivation

If you are not sure whether your Pacman is estivating or just being lazy, here are some clear signs which can help you to recognize such state.

Firstly, they will form a dry cocoon around their skin. This is most likely the easiest and simplest way to tell if something is not right. Such cocoon is basically their old skin, which they stop shedding and decide to keep it instead.

That way, they form a type of their own protective layer around their bodies, trying to save that bit of moisture left below it. Such dry protective cocoon is simple to spot on your pet, and it certainly means it is not feeling comfortable with the temperature or humidity you are providing.

Secondly, they will burrow themselves quite deeply. Deeper than usual. Pacman frogs will literally hide as much as they can during estivation, trying to gain moisture from the substrate. Additionally, they will stay there for long periods of time, mostly sleeping.

With all that said, it is logical to conclude that another sign is a lack of appetite. Obviously, if they are not getting enough warmth or moisture to function normally, they are not able to eat either.

If you put all these signs together, you will get a lethargic pet which is spending time in a “life saver mode“. Estivating frogs will literally just sleep and can often be confused with being dead.

How Long Do Pacman Frogs Hibernate?

The answer here is extremely simple: they hibernate until they start feeling comfortable enough to stop hibernating.

This is a state which is not natural in captivity, so we can define it as a cry for help. Until you do not realize what is wrong with your frog and do not improve such environment for it, it will not be coming out of estivation. Not because it does not want to, but because it cannot.

Estivation can last from several days to several months, depending on how soon terrarium conditions get improved. So, the length of such state basically depends entirely on the owners.

How to Care for Pacman Frogs During Estivation?

The most important thing is to provide your pet ideal temperature ranges and humidity levels. Otherwise, you are risking for it never coming out of such state and eventually dying.

And, additionally, it is crucial to do it gradually. You want to imitate springtime slowly knocking at the door, not a fire hazard.

Secondly, it is good to make sure the terrarium is always clean, even when estivation is in process. Remove all insects that your pet may have saved for a later meal, and carefully check the substrate for dirt.

Another suggestable thing is to provide a shallow bowl of fresh water. Once your pet decides to come out of estivation, it will need to submerge into water to peel the dry skin cocoon off.

Can You Wake Up a Pacman Frog?

It is best not to disturb your frog while it is estivating.

Waking it up can potentially bring to unnecessary stress disorders. On top of that, if you decide to wake it up while environmental conditions are still not ideal, you are basically forcing your pet to function when it really cannot. This can, consequentially, bring to several other complications.

There is no need to worry- your frog will eventually wake up once it starts feeling comfortable under the temperature and humidity levels you provide to it.

Do Pacman Frogs Eat During Hibernation?

As already mentioned, a few lines above, Horned frogs do no eat during their partial hibernation.

Their metabolism is drastically slowed down then, and they are literally just waiting for their bodies being able to function normally again. That is why they will avoid any food during such state, and there is no need of offering meals to them.

Once the are estivating, their bodies are not even able of properly digesting food, so this can cause serious inflammations inside their colorful bodies.

Once they come out, it is important to start feeding them with smaller meals and to gradually enlarge them.

Pacman Frog Dying or Hibernating?

It is not unusual for owners not being sure if their pets are hibernating or dying. And there is, unfortunately, no universal rule to find that out. However, if you notice the estivation signs such as dry skin cocoon and lethargic behavior, it is most likely just estivating.

On the other side, if you notice your frog is not coming out for a while even after all the right conditions are provided, you may then try to wake it up really gently.

Try giving it a soaked bath to remove the dry skin cocoon and offering some food. If your pet is still lethargic, something else may be wrong with it.

The best way to be certain is to always consult your veterinarian whenever you have such doubts.

Wrapping Up

Whenever your cold-blooded pet does not live under perfect environmental conditions, it will head to a state called estivation. This is perfectly normal in their natural habitats, but can sometimes happen in captivity, too.

The best way to help your Pacman is by not panicking, and by improving his or her enclosure conditions instead. It will come out eventually.

avatar Noah
I’m Noah, chief editor at VIVO Pets and the proud owner of a playful, energetic husky (Max). I’ve been a volunteer at Rex Animal Rescue for over 2 years. I love learning and writing about different animals that can be kept as pets. read more...

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