African Clawed Frog

Overall satisfaction


Acquired: Online breeder / seller

Gender: N/A





Activity level






Easy to handle


Easy To feed


Easy to clean and maintain habitat


Easy to provide environmental needs


Easy to provide habitat


Xenopus as an Introduction to Aquatic Frogs


Congleton, Cheshire, United Kingdom

Posted Sep 12, 2012

I know these more by their scientific rather than their common names. I was introduced to these critters in the 1980s when lots of scientific labs bread them for developmental studies. The eggs are huge and you can easily see tadpole development down a microscope.

The African Clawed Frog is a really amazing creature. It's a purely aquatic frog from South Africa that requires warm water to do best (about 24ºC, just above room temperature). They are social creatures and incredible eaters. Basically, if it can fit into their mouths they will eat it. They are also amazing hunters. Just add a few fish fry to their tank and watch them get hunted down.

Like all frogs they breathe both using their longs and through their skins. Because of this it is imperative that the water in their tank is not too deep (about 30cm maximum) and it's also important to change the water frequently to keep it aerated. Because their skins are sensitive to vibration it's recommended that you do not use filters or air pumps as these cause vibration in the water and can cause anxiety.

You can aerate the water if you have a waterfall that tumbles onto rocks at one end of the tank, but a filter is a definite no-no. This, of course, means that you will need to replace the water and clean the tank at least once a week. They are social and prefer to be kept in groups (just make certain that they are the same size, or a smaller one could be considered food). As a guide, three will be comfortable in a 30-gallon tank.

They will eat anything that they can fit into their mouths. So earthworms, fish fry and meal worms are great. They can also be fed any good quality meat-based dog or cat food (this is good to give them every now and then as they contain calcium and iron supplements).

In the wild, these frogs breed at the start of the rainy season. So, if you want to get them to breed you need to 'trick' them into doing so. You will need two tanks. One for the eggs and one for the adults. Transfer the breeding adults to the egg tank then pour in about 1/3 the volume of water in the tank of water at 15ºC. The male frogs will begin to call and the females will respond. Then the males will climb on the backs of responsive females. The eggs are large and very sticky and will stick to any vegetation or stones in the tank. As soon as the eggs have been laid remove the adults to the other tank, or they will eat the eggs.

The eggs will develop into tadpoles that have long whiskers projecting from their mouths. The tadpoles are filter feeders so it's best to feed them on well ground fish food. It takes about 6 weeks for the tadpoles to develop into froglets. The froglets need the same diet as the adults, just smaller (their food must be able to fit into their mouths).

It should be noted that they should never be handled. They are aquatic frogs and their skins must be moist at all times. If you pick them up with dry hands you can cause them skin burns (for the same reason you should never pick fish up with dry hands). You can also transfer bacterial and fungal infections to the frogs by handling them. If you absolutely must pick them up then wear neoprene gloves and moisten the outside of the gloves before handling the frogs. And this is the only reason that I am not recommending them for children.

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