African clawed frog is one of the most common frog species that can be found in Sub Saharan Africa as well as many other parts of the world. They are named in that way because their front limbs appear as claws at a simple glance. These frogs are used widely by the scientific community for different kinds of research. Read on to find out more about this species.
The body of the African clawed frog is rather flat with a small-sized, wedge-like head.
The nostrils and the eyes are placed on top of the frog’s head. They have camouflaged skin which enables them to hide themselves from various predators. Their smooth skin is usually multicolored and has blotches or patches of brown or greenish-gray on its back. A distinct off-white shade with yellow hue is observed on their undersides.
The males are around 2 inches to 2.5 inches in length and the females are nearly 4 inches to 4.5 inches in length. The males weigh around 60 grams and females are around 200 grams. The females are also equipped with cloacal extensions around the end section of their abdomens.
The small-sized front limbs are equipped with four non-webbed fingers. The hind legs are comparatively larger than the front limbs and are webbed. The 3 inside toes present on both feet have cornified tips which appear as claws.
The frogs’ front limbs are small with non-webbed fingers used to push food into the mouth. Their hind legs are large and webbed, and the three inside toes on either foot have “claws,” which are not true claws but cornified tips. They also have a unique and highly sensitive lateral line system that enables them to detect prey and predators as they move in the murky waters. This lateral line appears like numerous white stitch marks right along both sides of the frogs.
Like other members of the Pipidae family, the African clawed frogs do not have a visible ear or a tongue. Male frogs also do not have vocal cords. They do not have moveable eyelids and makes use of a transparent covering for protecting the eyes. They are also notable for their flat and curved snouts.
Species: X. laevis
Scientific Name:Xenopus laevis
The African clawed frog can be found in Sub-Saharan regions of Africa, such as in Sudan, Nigeria, Angola, Namibia, and South Africa as well as various parts of southern Africa.
They can also be spotted in various freshwater regions of the world, including North America, different parts of South America like Chile, and various countries in Europe like France, Portugal, Italy, and the United Kingdom. In recent times they have also been seen in Indonesia.
In the wild, the African clawed frog can be found in ponds, lakes and wetlands across the arid and semiarid parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.
They are usually not found in moving and running streams. These frogs prefer warm, quiet streams and stagnant pools with temperatures ranging between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. These frogs are almost completely aquatic and will come out of the water only when they are forced to move to another pond.
The tadpoles are mainly filter feeders but they turn scavengers once they become adults.
They eat all kinds of living, dying or dead arthropods as well as other forms of organic waste. Some of the main forms of food consumed by African clawed frogs include water insects, aquatic insect larvae, water bugs, small fish, spiders, crustaceans, worms, tadpoles, and freshwater snails.
These are the main behavioral habits of African clawed frogs.
The African clawed frogs have got numerous natural predators both in as well as out of the water. Various small mammals like rodents, dogs, cats, and numerous reptiles and birds like herons prey on these frogs.
These are the main adaptations of the African clawed frogs.
The mating season lasts between the early spring months to the late summer months.
However, this may also vary from one location to another.
Mating typically occurs during nighttime in stagnant waters and may last anywhere between 3 to 4 hours.
The reproduction takes place for African clawed frogs through fertilization of eggs that take place outside the female’s body. A male frog effectively clasps the female around their pelvic regions to create an inguinal amplexus. Following this, the eggs go through fertilization and the female frog lays about 500 to 2000 eggs which are surrounded by a sticky jelly-like substance. This makes it possible for the eggs to get stuck to stones, sticks or other substrates underwater. The eggs can in about one week.
The tadpoles are usually about 0.4 centimeters long. It takes about 6 to 8 weeks to transform from an egg to a small frog.
The adults offer no parental care to the eggs or tadpoles. The small tadpoles reach sexual maturity in about 10-12 months.
African clawed frogs tend to survive at least 15 years or more in the wild. In captivity, they can live as long as 25 to 30 years.
Even though they are voracious predators, plenty of people simply love to have African clawed frogs as pets. It is important that you arrange for a separate tank for them and not keep them with other fishes as these frogs may attack them or make the water too filthy for them to have healthy sustenance. Following these pet care recommendations can make it easier for you to have these frogs as pets.
Get a tank that is capable of holding at least 40 gallons of water. While you can keep one male frog with multiple females, do not keep two or more males in a single tank as it can lead to rivalry and fights. Maintain a small space between the water and the tank lid so that the frogs can breathe easily.
The lid over the tank is going to prevent the frogs from jumping out of the water. Use a water filter as these frogs tend to produce plenty of waste materials and the filter can be of great help to keep the water clean.
Avoid using sharp stones for your tank bottom as they may damage the soft skin of the frogs. Also, avoid using sand as these frogs like digging a lot and having sand on the tank can only make the water muddier in due course of time. You can use some large stones and snags to provide shelters for the African clawed frogs. You can have both artificial as well as natural plants in the tank.
Tank water temperature must be maintained around 20 °С to 25 °С or 68 °F to 77 °F. You may achieve this by installing a central heating system for your room. However, if the temperature somehow gets lower than the 20 °С mark, it is important that you get a heater placed inside the tank.
In captivity, young tadpoles are usually fed bloodworm and live or frozen tubifex. The adults eat the same food as the young ones, but you may also add small mice, largely sized worms, insects, sliced calamari, prawns and small fish in their diet.
The African clawed frog species is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN. Nevertheless, in some parts of the world their populations face threat from growing aquatic pollution. It is important to reduce water pollution so that they have a better chance of survival.
Here are some fun facts about the African clawed frogs.
Check out these pictures of African clawed frogs.
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