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African Clawed Frog

An amusing fellow! (other names: Platanna)

African Clawed Frog
origin:South Africa
life expectancy:10-15 years
family:Aquatic
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History [ edit ]

The African Clawed Frog is an aquatic frog native to South Africa (sub-Saharan region) where it is known as plathhander or platanna, which means "flat hands". It is one of the 14 species (and the bigger) belonging to the genus Xenopus (meaning strange foot) and its scientific name is Xenopus laevis. Its habitat is grassland ponds, streams, and lakes in both arid and semi-arid climates and today they can be found in many areas outside their original range.   Its name (Clawed Frog) derives from the three short claws it has on each of its hind feet. Fossilized remains show that this species is very old, their ancestors going back to the Cretaceous era. The African Clawed Frog is famous for being sent into space and for being the first cloned vertebrate. In the 1940’s it was also extensively used to test for pregnancy in humans. Today, the African Clawed Frog has quite a lot of enthusiasts as an aquarium pet but prospective owners should make sure that keeping them as pets is not illegal in the area where they live. In some regions it is not allowed due to the possibility of their being released and establish in freshwater environments where, because they are so voracious, they can become a threat to native amphibians and fishes, including several endangered species.
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Appearance [ edit ]

The African Clawed Frog is a medium-sized frog, with a flattened body, dorso ventrally levelled, wedge-shaped head and small, lidless upward-gazing eyes. The eardrums are not visible. They do not have either tongue or teeth and use the front toes as fingers to bring food to their mouths. African Clawed Frogs are very good swimmers. Their strong hind legs have five webbed-toes, the three inside toes being clawed. The front legs are small and the four toes unwebbed. Despite being purely aquatic African Clawed Frogs have fully developed lungs and, contrary to most frogs, make sounds without an inflatable sac. Their colour ranges from grey to olive green and they may be blotched or patterned with darker colours. The underside and inside of the legs are white or cream-colored. There is an Albino variety. Their skin is very slippery. Males distinguish from females by nuptial dark pads on their forearms and hands during the mating season and the absence of cloacal flaps. Another distinctive feature is their size: males are much smaller than females.
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Behaviour [ edit ]

African Clawed Frogs are very amusing to watch. They are very muscular and lively, can swim backwards and when they are tired they like floating on the water surface, sometimes frightening their owners who think they are sick or dead.  Further, they are reputed escapists if the tank is not equipped with a well-fitted lid. With a bit of patience they can be taught to take food from the owner's hand, but they should not be handled for their skin dries out very easily. Both males and females vocalize and can call from underwater but females are usually silent. African Clawed Frogs are carnivorous and will predate any fish that is kept in the same tank. However, because they are quite social, they should not be left alone but kept with one or more individuals of the same species. When not feeding they rest on the bottom. When their environment’s water supply dries up, African Clawed Frogs either migrate or become dormant under a layer of mud, with just an opening for them to breathe through, until the rain season (they can survive buried in mud for about 10 months).
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Handling [ edit ]

African Clawed Frogs should not be handled once their skin dries out very easily.

On the other hand, their skin produces a chemical which may cause an allergic reaction in some people.

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Reproduction [ edit ]

African Clawed Frogs take 10 to 12 months to mature. The female lays up to 2000 eggs. The fertilization occurs at night, when everything is quiet, during a mating ceremony that consists in the male grasping the female with his forearms just above her hind legs (mating embrace) and the couple performing a series of somersaults. When both frogs are in the upside down position the eggs are released and fertilized externally the stick eggs spreading throughout the tank surface. Hatching takes about 2 days and the tadpoles transform into frog lets in about 40 days. Tadpoles are extremely fragile and should not be handled. 
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Health [ edit ]

African Clawed Frogs may suffer from chytridiomycosis, red leg disease and bloating disease.
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Housing [ edit ]

Habitat: 40 lit tank (9 UK gallon; 10.5 US gallon) per frog, with a tight-fitting lid. African Clawed Frogs are air breathing and should be able to easily reach the surface: depth: min. 15 cm; max 40 cm (min 6 in; max 12 in). Undergravel filtration system advisable for they need a warm, calm environment. Tap water must stand 24 hours before poured into the tank. Alternatively a dechlorinator should be used.
 
Substrate: medium sized gravel. Small stones are not advisable once they these can be accidentally ingested.

Decoration: medium-to-large sterilized rocks, pieces of wood and flower pots that may serve as hiding places and artificial plants (living plants will be quickly uprooted by the frogs).

Temperature: 20-23C (68-75 F).

Lighting: Direct or artificial lighting is not needed. 12 hours a day of indirect UV lighting is recommended. Black lights may be used to observe the frogs at night time without disturbing them.

Habitat cleaning: Water should be completely changed at least once a month or whenever it becomes extremely cloudy. The tank should be topped up every two weeks or so. Algae and exudate which form on the tank walls should be removed with a towel at every water change.

 

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Diet [ edit ]

In their natural habitat African Clawed Frogs are voracious carnivorous and will eat anything they can get, dead or alive, such as freshwater snails, crustaceans, insect larvae, water insects, tadpoles and worms.

In captivity they are are mainly fed earthworms. They should be fed once a day with as much food as they can consume in 15 minutes.

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Care Level [ edit ]

Easy. Suitable for beginners.


Cautions: Always keep the top lid and avoid handling the African Clawed Frogs. Tadpoles handled at all.

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Comments (1)add comment
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14.03
bigal said:
this is a great info spot, I love these frogs.
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