African clawed toad

African clawed toad

Xenopus laevis

Common name:

African clawed toad

Scientific name:

Xenopus laevis

Alternative common names:


The African clawed frog is a species of African aquatic frog. They are voracious predators and easily adapt to many habitats. They have been shown to devastate native populations of frogs and other creatures by eating their young.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Sub-Saharan Africa (Nigeria and Sudan to South Africa).

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA-Category 1b

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces.

How does it spread?

Spread via pet trade. They are frequently mislabelled as African Dwarf Frogs in pet stores.

Why is it a problem?

African clawed frogs predate on and compete with native species. They are possibly toxic to predators. They are also known to make water bodies turbid.

What does it look like?

Description: This frog has smooth slippery skin, which is multi coloured on its back with blotches of olive grey or brown. The underside is creamy white with a yellow tinge. African clawed frogs have the ability to change their appearance to match their background. They can become dark, light, or mottled. They also have a lateral line system that is very sensitive to movement of water. Males weigh 60 grams, and are about two to 5 to 6 cm long. Males also lack a vocal sac, which most male frogs have. Females are much larger. They weigh 200 grams and are about four to 10 to 12 cm long. Females also have cloacal extensions at the end of their abdomen.

Habitat: They prefer warm stagnant pools, and quiet streams; they are rarely found in running streams. They thrive in temperatures from 15,5 to 26,66 degrees Celsius. They leave the water only when forced to migrate.

Breeding: Mating usually takes place at night where they engage in pelvic amplexus, in which the males clasp females about the pelvic region. Eggs are about 1 cm in diameter. Sticky jelly around the eggs causes them to adhere to objects underwater like sticks, stones, and other substrate. Females lay 500 to 2,000 eggs at one time and 2,000 to 8,000 eggs per year. Eggs hatch within one week and tadpoles are about 4 cm long. The total change from egg to small frog takes about six to eight weeks. Adults exhibit no parental care.

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