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African Clawed Frog


Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
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Species Profile: African Clawed Frog

The African Clawed Frog is a completely aquatic frog. They are excellent swimmers and can swim in all directions - including backwards - easily. These frogs make great pets for both experienced and beginner herp enthusiasts.

Species Profile: African Clawed Frog
Scientific Name: Xenopus laevis
Natural Environment: Warm lakes and ponds in Southern Africa
Average Size: 2" to 5", depending on gender
Average Life Span: More than 15 years in captivity
Appearance: The African Clawed Frog has smooth, slippery skin that ranges in color from grayish to brownish. It is mottled with darker shades of the same color. The belly is a creamy white. It has large webbed rear feet with three out of five toes ending in claws. Its front legs are small and lack webbing and claws. It has a flat head that looks small in comparison to its plump body, and its lidless eyes are on top of its head. Females are significantly larger and fatter than males.
Habitat
Size: At least 10 gallons for one frog.
Lighting: Additional lighting is not absolutely necessary, but we recommend 10 to 12 hours of indirect UV lighting per day. Never put the tank in direct sunlight. You can use a black light at night if you wish to observe your frog without disturbing its nocturnal behavior.
Temperature: African Clawed Frogs are most comfortable when the water temperature is between 68° and 72° F. If the water gets too cool, use a submersible heater. Monitor water temperatures with a thermometer.
Filtration: We also recommend the use of a low flow filter that creates very little water movement. This will help to maintain proper water quality, and it will encourage optimum health. Though African Clawed Frogs live in stagnant ponds and lakes in the wild, there are organisms present there that keep this system in balance. There are no such organisms in your frog's captive habitat, and allowing the water to be stagnant could result in disease and possibly death. Use a filter, and do regular water changes as needed.
Housing: African Clawed Frogs are fully aquatic. They are best housed in a glass aquarium with a secure screened lid. Each adult frog will require at least 2 to 5 gallons of water, and the water depth should be at least 12". We recommend providing lots of hiding places, such as commercial aquarium decorations, rocks, driftwood, flower pot halves, PVC pipes, and artificial plants. These hiding places will give your frog a sense of security.
Substrate: Gravel, either large enough that they can't ingest it or fine enough that they can pass it if they do ingest it.
Diet/Feeding: African Clawed Frogs are opportunistic eaters, and they will attack anything that moves in front of them. Their captive diet should consist of brine shrimp, commercial food such as ReptoMin Floating Food Sticks, insects, and small fish such as minnows and guppies. You can feed adults daily, but they should only be given as much as they can eat within a 15 minute window. All uneaten food should be removed after that to prevent unsanitary water conditions from developing.
Behavior/Interaction: These frogs will spend most of their time underwater, coming up to the surface only to breathe. They are very social, friendly frogs, and you can easily house more than one frog of the same sex in one tank as long as the tank is large enough to provide enough living space.

Though you can handle your African Clawed Frog, we do not recommend it. They can very easily start to dry out if they are out of the water for more than a few minutes. Therefore, it is best to pet them while they are in the tank. They will probably nibble on your fingers when you do this, but they don't have teeth, so it is painless.

Interesting Facts: At night, males will emit a metallic clicking sound as their mating call, and females will answer back. If the female accepts the male, the sound she makes is described as "a rapping sound". If she rejects him, the noise she makes sounds like "a slow ticking." The fact that the female responds vocally is fairly unique. Another unique fact about the African Clawed Frog is that it lacks a tongue or visible ears.
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