African Clawed Frog is a unique family of frogs that lack a tongue and a visible ear.
The males also lack vocal cords. Instead of moveable eyelids, a clear covering protects their eyes. The body is flattened and the head is wedge-shaped and smaller than the body.
The African clawed frog’s front limbs are small with unwebbed fingers that are used to push food into the mouth.
Its hind legs are large and webbed and the three inside toes on either foot have claws, this is where they get their common name. However, while they may look like claws, they are not true claws but cornified tips.
This frog has smooth slippery skin, which is multicolored on its back with blotches of olive gray 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 two ounces (60 grams), and are about two to 2.5 inches (5 to 6 cm) long. Males also lack a vocal sac, which most male frogs have. Females are much larger.
They weigh seven ounces (200 grams) and are about four to 4.5 inches (10 to 12 cm) long. Females also have cloacal extensions at the end of their abdomen.
These frogs are found along the African Rift Valley south of the Sahara in east and southern Africa. They are also found in South Africa and Namibia and Angola in western Africa. As an invasive pest species they are now found in freshwater areas all over the world.
They prefer warm stagnant pools, and quiet streams; they are rarely found in running streams. They can tolerate wide variations in water, but metal ions are toxic. They thrive in temperatures from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. They leave the water only when forced to migrate.
African clawed frogs are carnivorous and eat anything they can find. They are scavengers and eat living, dead, or dying arthropods and other pieces of organic waste including aquatic insect larvae, water insects, crustaceans, small fish, tadpoles, worms, and freshwater snails.
These frogs are sexually mature in ten to 12 months. Mating can take place during any time of year, but is most common from early spring to late summer, depending on location, and may take place up to four times a year.
Males vocalize, even though they lack vocal cords, to attract females. Instead they use rapid muscle contractions in their throat to produce a type of clicking noise. The female will then either respond with an acceptance call or a rejection call.
The frog is a rather inactive and hardy creature that may live up to 15 years.