African Clawed Frog

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.

African Clawed Frog

African Clawed Frog

African Clawed Frog Description

The body of the African clawed frog is rather flat with a small-sized, wedge-like head.

African Clawed Frog

African Clawed Frog

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.

African Clawed Frog Scientific Classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata
Order: Anura
Class: Amphibia
Family: Pipidae
Genus: Xenopus
Species: X. laevis
Scientific Name:Xenopus laevis

African Clawed Frog Distribution and Range

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.

Distribution and Range

Distribution and Range

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.

African Clawed Frog Habitat

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.

African Clawed Frog Habitat

African Clawed Frog Habitat

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.

African Clawed Frog Diet

The tadpoles are mainly filter feeders but they turn scavengers once they become adults.

African Clawed Frog Diet

African Clawed Frog Diet

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.

African Clawed Frog Video

African Clawed Frog Behavior

These are the main behavioral habits of African clawed frogs.

  • They use their non-webbed front limbs to push food inside their mouths.
  • Being highly opportunistic, the African clawed frogs can move into and colonize any kind of new ponds and water bodies.
African Clawed Frog

African Clawed Frog

  • African clawed frogs are highly skilled swimmers but they tend to be rather clumsy while trying to move on land. They mostly tend to crawl on land instead of hopping.
  • These frogs shed skin in each and every season and also consume their own skin after shedding.
  • Even though the males do not have a vocal sac, they produce a mating call characterized by alternating short and long trills. They contract their intrinsic laryngeal muscles to produce such a sound. The females also use sounds to answer the males’ calls. They make a rapping sound to signal acceptance or a slow ticking sound to indicate rejection.
  • They are scavengers and can eat anything that they can find, whether living or dying species or even organic wastes.
  • They mostly live at the bottom of ponds and other water bodies which makes it possible for them to find more food as well as stay protected from predators.

African Clawed Frog Predators

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.

African Clawed Frog Adaptations

These are the main adaptations of the African clawed frogs.

  • The African clawed frogs can change their appearance easily to blend with their surroundings. They can easily take a lighter, darker or a mottled look.
  • The skin of the African clawed frogs produces an antibiotic that can help in the fast healing of wounds. This really works well in the microbe-filled stagnant waters where they mostly reside.
  • Their ability to produce sounds even without vocal cords helps them in their eating habits.
  • They have powerful legs which they can use for lounging and swimming after eating.
  • The lateral lines along the sides of their bodies allow them to sense vibrations and movements in the water. This helps them to detect food and avoid predators.
  • African clawed frogs also have sensitive fingers as well as a strong sense of smell which they use for locating food.
  • They can easily accommodate to different kinds of environmental settings which makes them aggressive predators.
African Clawed Frog

African Clawed Frog

  • They have powerful claws on hind feet which they can use for tearing apart larger portions of food.

African Clawed Frog Mating Season

The mating season lasts between the early spring months to the late summer months.

African Clawed Frog Mating

African Clawed Frog Mating

However, this may also vary from one location to another.

African Clawed Frog Reproduction

Mating typically occurs during nighttime in stagnant waters and may last anywhere between 3 to 4 hours.

African Clawed Frog Reproduction

African Clawed Frog Reproduction

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.

African Clawed Frog Life Cycle

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.

African Clawed Frog Lifecycle

African Clawed Frog Lifecycle

The adults offer no parental care to the eggs or tadpoles. The small tadpoles reach sexual maturity in about 10-12 months.

African Clawed Frog Life Span

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.

African Clawed Frog As Pets

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.

African Clawed Frog Housing

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.

African Clawed Frog

African Clawed Frog

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.

African Clawed Frog Temperature

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.

African Clawed Frog Feeding

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.

African Clawed Frog Conservation Status

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.

African Clawed Frog Interesting Facts

Here are some fun facts about the African clawed frogs.

  • African clawed frogs lack a tongue but can still make sounds to attract a mate.
  • These frogs can swim at truly astonishing speeds forwards, backward, sideways, up and down as well as in any other direction. In fact, they can attain a top speed of about 8 km/hour.
  • The African clawed frogs are often used in different kinds of scientific research projects.
  • They are not even averse to eating their own skin once it is shed.
  • These frogs are known across the world for the unique shape of their feet.
  • The African clawed frogs in the wild are usually much larger than those that are bred and reared in captivity.

African Clawed Frog Pictures

Check out these pictures of African clawed frogs.

African Clawed Frog

African Clawed Frog

African Clawed Frog

African Clawed Frog

African Clawed Frog

African Clawed Frog

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