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African Clawed Frog

African Clawed Frog (Xenopus laevis) Care Sheet

Taxonomy
(Xenopus laevis)

  • Kingdom:
  • Animalia
  • Phylum:
  • Chordata
  • Class:
  • Amphibia
  • Order:
  • Anura
  • Family:
  • Pipidae
  • Genus:
  • Xenopus
  • Species:
  • aevis

African Clawed Frog
(Xenopus laevis)

African Clawed Frog (Xenopus laevis) © Benedikt Rauscher

African Clawed Frogs

African Clawed Frogs (Xenopus laevis) lack a tongue, visible ear and the males lack vocal cords. The hind legs of an ACF are large and webbed. The three inside toes on both feet have claws and this is where their common name has been derived.

Distribution

African clawed frogs are native to South Africa but have become an introduced species in waters all over the world and are considered an invasive species. They compete with native fauna and decimate anything that fits in their mouths.

Temperament - Handling

Your clawed frogs are not for handling. You should limit your handling as much as possible and only do so when absolutely necassary.

Habitat - Enclosure

African clawed frogs require a water depth of no less than 6 inches and no more than 12 inches. Even though this frog is an aquatic species, they breathe air and it must be made easily accessible by keeping the water height at a reasonable level.

There should be 10 gallons of water for each frog that is being housed together. This rule of thumb will help ensure that everyone has enough space.

African clawed frogs do not require any land surface. They do require some enclosure decorations though.

A solid tank cover is essential with this species. If there is an opening that the frog can fit through, they will likely go exploring and possibly dry up before you locate them.

Decor

Large stone gravel can be used with this species. Small stone or gravel should be avoided to prevent accidental ingestion when foraging the tank bottom for food. A variety of varying hiding places should be created with artificial driftwood, rocks, etc. A lack of adequate hiding locations can cause stress to the frogs.

Live and artificial plants can be used with this species though they will likely be uprooted - dug up.

Filtration

It is believed that constant water movement and splashing causes these frogs extreme stress. Many believe that 90% water changes should be done every 5-7 days and that a filtration system is not required.

Gentle filtration has been used by enthusiasts of clawed frogs successfully. The decision to use or avoid a filtration system is left upon the owner. For the sake of caution, frequent water changes would ultimately be the better choice.

Feeding

African clawed frogs are scavengers that have a voracious appetite. In the wild they will eat living, dead, or dying arthropods. They also eat aquatic insect larvae, small fish, tadpoles, worms, and freshwater snails.

Captive diets are primarily made up of brine shrimp, bloodworms, earthworms, and commercial food items. Guppies can also be offered to your frogs. A varied diet will help ensure that all of your frogs nutritional requirements are being met.

Heating

The tank can be kept at room temperature. They do exceptionally well in water temperatures ranging anywhere from 60° to 80° Fahrenheit. A median temperature of 70° - 72° would be ideal.

Lighting

Special lighting is not required though a 12 hour photoperiod should be provided.

Avoid direct contact with sunlight through windows.

Sexing

Female African clawed frogs are larger than males and typically weigh around 200 grams and are about 4" - 4.5" inches long as adults. Females have a cloacal extensions at the end of their abdomen.
Males typically weigh in around 60-70 grams and are around 2" - 2.5" inches long as adults. The male develops black mating pads on the underside of his forearms and hands, used for grasping the female during amplexus.

African Clawed Frog Pair (Xenopus laevis) © Tim Vickers

Breeding

African clawed frogs are sexually mature at 10 to 12 months of age. Once they reach maturity, they are able to breed, which is most common in the spring but can happen at any time of year and can take place up to four times per year. Mating often takes place in the evening when there are fewer disturbances.

Males lack a vocal sac but will begin calling out in the evening to attract a female by rapidly contracting the intrinsic laryngeal muscles. This mating call sounds like alternating long and short vibratory, quavering or warbling sound. The famle with either accept the call making a rapping sound or she will decline the call with a slow ticking.
Amplexus, the mating embrace, is pelvic with this species versus axillary (front limb) in other species. The female hundreds of eggs during amplexus, which typically adhere to surrounding rocks or other tank decor. The eggs will grow into tadpoles if left in the tank, unless they are eaten by their parents or fish in the tank. The tadpoles are very small and are filter feeders. The tadpole will absorb its tail, sustaining its nutritional value, as it metamorphoses into a froglet. The entire process takes roughly 4 days to a week. The entire process from egg to small frog takes around 6-8 weeks.

Egg Rearing

If you intend on trying to hatch out the eggs, you will need to protect them from predatory feeding. This is as simple as placing them in their own tank or by covering the eggs with a scrrening that prevents the adults from accessing them. The eggs will turn into tadpoles within the tank they are laid. You will need to remove the tadpoles if you wish for them to grow or their parents may eat them.

Interesting Facts

African clawed frogs lack a tongue ,a visible ear, and the males lack vocal cords.
Many people confuse this species with the African Dwarf Frog (Hymenochirus boettgeri).
African clawed frogs can live 15 years or more.
African clawed frogs are sexually mature in 10 to 12 months.
African clawed frogs have been used as laboratory research animals because their embryos are transparent.
African clawed frogs can't hop. Instead of hopping, they crawl.

Attribution

Author: Richard Brooks
African Clawed Frog Prelude - © Brian Gratwicke [CC-BY-SA-2.0]
African Clawed Frog Main - © Benedikt Rauscher (Public Domain)
African Clawed Frog Pair - © Tim Vickers (Public Domain)