African Clawed Frog (Xenopus laevis)
The African Clawed Toad (sometimes called African Clawed Frog) was traditionally used in medical testing (particularly in pregnancy tests) and many were released from laboratories and hospitals as well as, subsequently, through the pet trade. It is thought to be one of the species responsible for bringing various amphibian diseases into the UK. They feed underwater and predate on tadpoles of our native amphibians and aquatic invertebrates. They have a flattened green body, large back legs and black claws on the outer three toes of the hind feet.
|Identification||Adults up to 13 cm in length. Smooth skin that is brown or grey. Plump toad with large flattened body. Eyes are on top of the head. Claws on three inner toes of hind feet.Males usually smaller than females.
Almost always found in water.
Call: males call under the water.
|Distribution||Non-native species. Native to Africa. Commonly kept as pets and used extensively in UK laboratories. Thought to be one of the species responsible for bringing various amphibian diseases into the UK.|
|Ecology||Feeds mostly under water, stirring up silt and mud at the bottom of pools and streams in search of prey. Feed on tadpoles and aquatic invertebrates. Only leave water if there is a drought, when they burrow into mud. One of the few amphibians able to survive in high salinity (salty) water. Small clumps of eggs deposited on plants, rocks and other underwater surfaces.|
|Predators and other threats||The African Clawed Frog has many of the same predators in the UK as the native Common Frog. These predators include numerous birds, snakes, mammals and fish. The Clawed Frog’s defence against predation is their secretive life living amongst the vegetation and mud at the bottom of ponds.The African Clawed Frog is extremely successful and adaptable, an explosive breeder it readily adapts to man-made habitats. The global population of the frog is believed to be increasing and it has become an invasive species in many areas.|
N.B. The release of exotic species into the wild is a criminal offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.