Why Do Pacman Frogs Bury Themselves? (Shocking Info)

All animals have unique habits that may seem odd to any pet owner, and your first instinct may be to worry that something is wrong with them. With this fact in mind, have you come across your Pacman frog burrowing and burying itself under the debris? As it turns out, it is a normal occurrence that happens very often.

So, why do Pacman frogs bury themselves? For pacman frogs burrowing and burying themselves is an instinctive trait that helps them hunt or escape predators. They stay out of sight and only emerge when their prey is in view. Burrowing is also common when they are shedding. Pacman frogs in captivity also find shelter under the substrate when the terrarium conditions are unfavorable. If it is too warm, they will dig under the cool substrate to lower their body temperature.

We intend to help you understand more about your pet. We investigated all the possible reasons why the Pacman frogs bury themselves and how long they can stay buried. Read on as we give you the shocking details.

Why Do Pacman Frogs Bury Themselves?

It is alarming for new owners to find their frogs burying themselves inches deep, with only their horns peeking out of their substrate. The first concern is whether they can breathe well when buried. Secondly, you may worry about their eating habits during such instances.

Pacman frogs burrow out of instinct or necessity. First, they do it in the wild while looking for food because they aren't avid hunters; in that position, they can wait for their prey and attack when it comes close. Secondly, it comes in handy to help them cool down or find heat during unfavorable temperatures. It may also be to prepare for shedding or when looking for a conducive place to excrete. However, the trait is more common in juvenile frogs than in adults until they reach a particular age and size.

Burrowing is a characteristic that the frogs obtain from the wild. Most are ambush predators and would rather wait for their food than hunt for it. Hence, the position keeps them out of their prey's sight. It is the only way to capture fast-flying insects.

Similarly, they cover up to keep safe from predators because they become invisible in such a position. The instinct is so strong that they keep burrowing even when in captivity, not knowing that they are safe from attacks or that their owners will provide food for them.

Another reason is to keep safe from the harsh conditions. If it's too hot, they will hide under the cool substrate to help lower their temperature. Similarly, when it's too cold outside, they will cover up to seek some heat. The only way to help them, in this case, is to regulate the temperatures to help them relax more. It is necessary because the constant fluctuations may stress them and affect their health when in extreme cases.

Some owners worry about their pets' ability to breathe while under the substrate. Fortunately, frogs breathe through their skin; hence, they will not suffocate even with a substrate layer above them. This ability also helps them cool down or heat up easily until they reach the required temperature levels. Therefore, you don't need to worry about this habit; in fact, you should worry when your frog never burrows!

Your frog may fail to burrow when something is amiss, and no efforts from you will make them dig up and hide. Initially, it may be due to extreme tank temperatures, which make it impossible to bury themselves. They may choose not to do it if the tank and the substrate are equally hot. In such instances, they would rather stay in the tank and wait for it to cool down. Consequently, it is recommended that you keep the substrate cool and wet to provide alternative shelter in such dire situations.

How Long Do Pacman Frogs Stay Buried?

If you own a Pacman or are contemplating having one, one thing you may have to deal with is burrowing and staying covered up for extended periods. You will particularly find new pets staying buried for long, especially the young ones. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the maximum time frame for them to stay in that position.

Pacman frogs will stay buried for long and only emerge when they feel hungry. They mostly do it for days but may go for weeks if the conditions are unfavorable. Ideally, they stay buried during the day and only emerge at night, but it is also possible to remain in the same position for days and nights in a row.

We cannot give the exact time frame because it depends on several factors. It may be longer or shorter depending on the individual frog and its health; when unwell, they prefer staying buried for a longer time.

Pacman frogs are known to dig as deep as five inches to escape harsh conditions until they stabilize. Given their slow metabolism, some can stay hidden until their food reserves run out. Hence, they will only come out when they need to eat. In extreme cases like stress and harsh temperature, they can stay like that for weeks.

However, most owners report them staying for days. Therefore, it is a normal occurrence, and you should not worry about your pet. It is only alarming when it has an underlying medical condition because it could be suffering in silence. You can always check on your pet if you think that something is amiss.

How Long Do Pacman Frogs Burrow?

Amphibians, particularly frogs, may portray very weird characteristics that can alarm you. They sometimes fully cover themselves under the substrate, silent and seemingly breathless, and any beginner would immediately think of the worst. To put your mind at ease, let's find out how much time they spend burrowing and how deep they can hide.

Pacman frogs can burrow for weeks or more, and some would only resurface when they are hungry; hence, provided that they stay full, they will remain covered under the substrate layers. These incredible creatures can bury themselves so deep that the only visible body part is the horns. Therefore, the burrowing depth also depends on the frog's size; the bigger the animal is, the deeper the burrow.

Similarly, if the substrate is too thick, the frog will dig deeper. A shallow substrate will not cover the whole frog, and most of its body parts may remain uncovered. Therefore, a substrate three inches thick will suffice for most Pacman. It would be best to ensure that there is enough bedding that is healthy and uncontaminated.

Otherwise, poor hygiene may be fatal to your tortoise. Ultimately, burrowing is part of the Pacman frog's lifestyle, and like a responsible and loving keeper, it is critical to make the environment as favorable as possible.

Should I Dig Up My Pacman Frog?

It is understandable to worry about your pet's health and safety, especially when they are buried inches deep, not eating or basking. You would want to know whether it is okay to dig them up to feed them or clean their terrarium.

It is only safe to dig up your burrowing pacman frog if you are certain that it doesn't have an underlying health issue. Forcing your pet to emerge may make the situation worse by straining their health. Animals need all the rest they can get when unwell and should only get up independently when feeling better.

Similarly, it is dangerous to force the frogs out during hibernation. At that time, their bodies have begun to save energy by slowing down the normal body functions. Thus, forcing them to function normally may be strenuous and can even lead to death.

It is advisable to determine your frog's health condition first before trying to dig them up. It is recommended to uncover your frog if it has been under the substrate for around three days, especially if they need to eat or you need to clean up the tank or change the substrate. Doing that would be out of necessity since unsanitary conditions can affect their health.

Remember not to force them when you suspect that they are hibernating or when they have a serious illness. You may confirm by checking their skin. If abnormally colored or textured, then it is either undergoing aestivation or suffering from an illness, a situation that only a vet can advise accordingly. Alternatively, if your frog is okay, only burrowing due to unfavorable conditions, then you can gradually adjust the temperature as you wait for them to wake up independently.


It is normal for your Pacman to burrow because it is instinctive. It is their mode of survival since they hide when hunting or when trying to escape from predators. They also cover themselves up to find heat or cool down during extreme temperatures. There is no way to stop them entirely from doing it unless you make their environment conducive.

How long your Pacman stays buried depends on its personality, as it may stay as long as it needs to. On the other hand, burrowing can be great family fun as people find it amusing when the frogs adorably dig and try to cover themselves up. Considering it's a natural trait, always find ways to make them comfortable and safe while undergoing the process.



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