African Clawed Frogs

Xenopus laevis

Albino African Clawed Frogs

These amphibians are totally aquatic and are noted for the absence of both tongue and eyelids.  Their bodies have a somewhat flattened appearance and they posses powerful hind legs.

Native to southern Africa, these clawed frogs grow to approximately 4-5 inches and in captivity they can live to 15 years of age. They are powerful and agile swimmers with fully webbed hind limbs that are partially clawed.  They are a simple species to keep making them a popular choice for the classroom.


Simple to maintain in the classroom, these frogs have been bred for many generations under laboratory conditions.  A 10 gallon aquarium fulled with water to a depth of at least 5-8 inches is adequate for a similar sized pair of frogs.  To check for the correct water depth, ensure that your fogs can ready the surface of the water to breath while still standing on the bottom of the tank.  Keep water temperature at 68-77°F using an aquarium heater if necessary, making sure that it is protected from any possible damage by the frogs.  To maintain water purity, gentle filtration using internal or external power filters is essential.

To furnish your setup use plants, rocks, pea-sized gravel, and you can even add flower pots for your frog to hide in.  Supplementary lighting is not required.  Your frogs may take a little while to settle into their new home.  If they frantically bash themselves against the sides of the tank when you approach, insert a dense plastic plant at one end of the aquarium to allow the frogs to hide and gradually acclimatize to their new surroundings.


These frogs are very difficult to handle.  Coated with a protective slime, they slip through fingers even better than wet soap.  If you need to move them, catch them in a net and transport them in plastic containers without water, furnished with moss or wet paper towel to keep your frog moist.  Bewared of transporting an African Clawed Frog in a bag of water since their claws may puncture the bag.

Food & Feeding

A healthy African Clawed Frog will rarely refuse food, which it shuffles around with its long fingers. It will happily swim to the surface and take food from your fingers which it then consumes underwater.  Earthworms, small fish (guppy), waxworms, turtle and fish pellets are all agreeable foods for these frogs.  Like many amphibians they are easily over fed because they don’t know when to stop — in the wild they would never find a constant and abundant supply food source all year round.  Feed only as much as they will eat in a 10 minute sitting – 3-4 times per week.


Males and females are easy to tell apart.  The female is larger and more rounded and when viewed from above, three flaps of skin next to eh cloaca are visible.

Some environmental changes seems to encourage spawning.  Spraying the water surface or adding 2-3 in of water can start the process.  Sometimes, however, the frogs spawn without any encouragement.  On average, 1000 eggs are laid per spawning and a single female can produce up to 10,000 eggs per season.  These should be removed immediately, to prevent the adults from eating them.  The eggs can be kept in a shallow container until the hatch a couple of days later.  Tadpoles have cannibalistic tendencies, so thin them out constantly, isolating faster growing tadpoles from others.

Tadpoles can be fed fish fry food or dip a net into a fresh clean pond to take in microorganisms.

Dwarf Clawed Frogs

Hymenochirus boettgeri

Dwarf African Clawed Frogs

In the wild, these frogs from west Africa can be found in ditches and lakes at the eduge of forests or cultivated areas.  Measuring only 1.5 inches, the prefer an aquarium headed to 68-77°F with a platform of floating plants to provide easy access to the water’s surface.  These small frogs breathe air, so access to the surface is essential.  Suitable foods include daphnia, tubifex worms, small insects or pellets.