African Clawed Frog

Scientific NameXenopus laevis
Common NameAfrican Clawed Frog
Care LevelModerate
Lifespan15-20 years
Adult Size4-5 inches (10-12 cm)
DietOmnivorous (small invertebrates, fish, specialized pellets, and even other smaller frogs)
OriginSub-Saharan Africa
TemperamentLargely passive but can be aggressive during feeding
Color VariationsCommonly greenish-grey, but albino and other variants exist

About the African Clawed Frog

The African Clawed Frog, originating from the ponds and rivers of Sub-Saharan Africa, has made its mark not only in the wild but in laboratories and homes around the world. The species has played a significant role in scientific research, and its relatively simple care requirements have also made it a popular choice for amphibian enthusiasts. This frog’s intriguing behaviors, reproductive abilities, and adaptability to various environments have further enhanced its appeal across diverse groups.


A fully grown African Clawed Frog typically measures between 4-5 inches (10-12 cm) in length. Females tend to be somewhat larger than males, sometimes significantly so. Their bodies are robust and streamlined, an adaptation to their aquatic habitats. When housing these frogs, the size of their environment should be proportional to their body size, ensuring they have enough space to move, explore, and hunt.

Unique Features

The African Clawed Frog gets its name from the three short, claw-like appendages on its hind feet. These claws are used to tear apart food, a necessity given the frog’s lack of tongue. Another fascinating feature is its lateral line system – a series of canals on the skin, more common in fish, which allows the frog to detect movement and vibrations in the water. Additionally, while they have eyes, they lack eyelids and instead have a protective layer to shield their eyes.

Behavior and Temperament

Primarily aquatic, African Clawed Frogs spend the majority of their life submerged, coming to the surface only for air. They are known for their distinctive swimming style, using their hind legs in a frog-kick motion. While they are largely passive creatures, they can become aggressive during feeding times, showing little discrimination about what they try to consume. This aggressive feeding behavior means they’re best housed singly or with other frogs of a similar size.


These frogs are not ideal for regular handling. Their skin is sensitive and can easily absorb toxins or contaminants from human hands, potentially leading to health issues. If you must handle them, for cleaning or health checks, ensure your hands are thoroughly rinsed and free of soaps, lotions, or chemicals. Always handle gently, minimizing stress.

Diet & Nutrition

Omnivorous by nature, the African Clawed Frog has a diverse diet. In the wild, they consume small invertebrates, tiny fish, and even other frogs. In captivity, a mix of live foods, like worms and brine shrimp, and specialized frog pellets can be offered. Given their voracious appetites, care should be taken to avoid overfeeding, which can lead to obesity and related health issues.


The water temperature for African Clawed Frogs should be maintained between 60°F to 75°F (15°C to 24°C). They can tolerate a wide range of temperatures but prefer the cooler end of the spectrum. It’s essential to monitor and regulate the water temperature, as extremes can lead to stress or health problems.


Being fully aquatic, the humidity directly in their environment is of less concern than with other amphibians. However, ensuring that the water they reside in is clean and free of contaminants is crucial. Regular water changes and a functional filtration system can help maintain a healthy aquatic environment.


African Clawed Frogs don’t have specific lighting needs like some reptiles. However, they do benefit from a regular day-night cycle, which can be achieved using natural light or standard aquarium lighting. UVB lighting is not essential, but if used, can promote better health and well-being.

Common Health Issues

Like all amphibians, African Clawed Frogs are susceptible to various health issues. Fungal and bacterial infections can arise from poor water quality. Obesity, a common issue in captivity, results from overfeeding. Additionally, they can suffer from impaction if they consume indigestible material. Regular water changes, a balanced diet, and periodic health checks can help mitigate most of these issues.


These frogs have a unique breeding process. Males call to attract females and then grasp the female from behind in a position called amplexus. The female releases her eggs, which the male simultaneously fertilizes. Breeding can be induced in captivity by mimicking seasonal changes, such as introducing cooler water, followed by a gradual warming.

Mating Habits

The male’s call, often likened to a distant motor or low-pitched cricket chirp, is the primary mating ritual for the African Clawed Frog. Once a female responds, the male latches onto her in the amplexus position. This can last several hours, during which the female releases hundreds, sometimes thousands, of eggs. After fertilization, the eggs will hatch in a few days, producing tadpoles that undergo metamorphosis over several weeks before emerging as young frogs. It’s essential to separate adults from the tadpoles to prevent predation.

African Clawed Frog FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)