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The African clawed frog

The African clawed frog is the only clawed amphibian and is found in Sub-Saharan Africa, with one species found in the South East and another in the West. It is characterised by a number of claws on its feet and some other distinguishing characteristics which render it quite different from other frogs. It is a species that dwells in rivers and ponds.

Physical description

Taxonomic data The African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) belongs to the family Pipidae, found across much of Africa and Asia, which are characterised by the absence of a tongue, teeth and true ears. Hearing is achieved through a pair of sensitive lines running on each side of the body, which pick up vibrations in the water from the frog's prey, smaller species of water life. There is no differentiation between senses of hearing and touch in this creature. Another peculiarity is the presence of webbing only on its hind feet. What distinguishes members of the genus Xenopus from other genera in the Pipidae family is the presence of three claws on its feet. These are the only clawed amphibians. They have a flattened head and body and are often greenish-grey in colour. Xenopus is common in South East Africa, particularly in South Africa. This species of aquatic frog dwells in rivers and ponds. A related species, Xenopus tropicalis, is found in West Africa, where it inhabits swamps, ponds, rivers and anywhere there is sufficient water. This is also clawed. Both species of frog shed their skins annually and grow a new one.


The absence of a tongue means that members of the genus Xenopus cannot catch mobile insects very effectively. It is an omnivorous scavenger, ready to eat meat and vegeatable material of any kind. It uses its claws to push food into its mouth, which is then sucked down by a strong pumping action. The claws are also used for tearing apart larger pieces of food. Scavenging for carrion, dead meat, is part of the frog's normal diet, but it will also hunt smaller water creatures. The frog will scavenge larger animals that have fallen into water. As the frog can only reach up to 12 cm long, it is not a predator at the top of the food chain. Males are generally shorter than females, a condition common in reptiles and amphibians. It is preyed upon by water birds and larger water creatures. The frogs lack a true vocal sack, but make mating calls by powerful muscle actions in their larynx. Males make long or short trills, but a peculiarity is that the females reply with either a rapping sound (acceptance) or slow ticking (rejection).

Same category articles Reptiles & Amphibians

Where to find pictures of frogs

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Frogs come in many shapes and sizes. There are over 5,000 species of frog distributed worldwide, from tropical to sub-arctic regions and are considered as one the most diverse vertebrate group on the planet. This article will give some information about the life history of frogs and where you can find some cool photos of these amazing animals.