The Care of African Clawed Frogs as Pets: A Guide

African clawed frog in water with gravel underneath

The three claws on the back foot of African clawed frogs, which are employed to break apart prey, give them their name. These aquatic frogs, which are mostly found in ponds and rivers throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, have gained popularity as pets largely due to their ease of maintenance and long lifespan. They may be pretty entertaining for owners to observe, and setting up a suitable aquarium for them is not too difficult. Dwarf clawed frogs and African clawed frogs can occasionally be mistaken. The dwarf frog has eyes on the sides of its head, but the African clawed frog has eyes on top of its head. Additionally, dwarf frogs have pointed snouts, whereas African clawed frogs have flat snouts. In addition, although dwarf frogs have four webbed feet, African clawed frogs have webbed rear feet and digits on their front feet that resemble hands.

Species Overview

Common Names: African clawed frog, African claw-toed frog

Scientific Name: Xenopus laevis

Adult Size: 2 to 5 inches long with females larger than males

Life Expectancy: About 15 years 

African Clawed Frog Behavior and Temperament

On four continents, African clawed frogs are regarded as an invasive species in the wild. They are tough predators, and some of them can even withstand cold conditions that other frogs cannot. Additionally, they are known to devour the young of other frogs and may adapt to a range of dietary sources.

African clawed frogs make entertaining pets to observe, but they shouldn't be handled. Their skin soon dries out when they are out of the water since they are aquatic frogs. African clawed frogs, on the other hand, can be trained to eat from their owner's hands, making this a delightful alternative to holding your pet. They occasionally inadvertently chew on fingers, but since they are toothless, this is not a problem. They are wonderful pets for novice frog keepers because to their resilience and relative ease of care.

Housing the African Clawed Frog

The minimum recommended aquarium size for one African clawed frog is a 10-gallon tank. The water should only be 7 to 12 inches deep for African clawed frogs to quickly reach the surface to breathe oxygen, even if they don't require a land area. Because these frogs are skilled at propulsion out of the water and escape when given the chance, a tight cover is essential.

Using a product from a pet store made to remove chlorine, the water has to be dechlorinated. Alternately, you might leave it outside for at least 24 hours to let the chlorine vaporize. Make sure the water you use doesn't contain any metal as African clawed frogs are susceptible to the poisonous effects of metal ions in the water.

The sensory system of African clawed frogs enables them to detect vibrations in the water. Accordingly, some scientists think that utilizing filters stresses frogs out continually, much to how being around a jackhammer all the time stresses out a human. Instead of going without a filter, some owners choose to employ moderate filtration, which keeps the water significantly cleaner. If you don't filter the water, you should change it at least once every week.


African clawed frogs thrive at room temperature, thus they often don't need a heat source. Make sure the tank is kept at a temperature between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit using an aquarium thermometer (16 to 27 degrees Celsius).


Typically, African clawed frogs don't require specific UV lamps. For the purpose of preserving a typical day-night cycle of around 12 hours of light and 12 hours of darkness each day, some individuals opt to offer indirect illumination or utilize a straightforward aquarium light.


The substance that lines the aquarium's bottom is called a substrate. It may be beneficial to replicate the animal's natural habitat while securing plants and other decorations. The substrate might be gravel. But stay away from little pebbles; you don't want your frog to eat it. Use decorations and hiding spots for the tank, such as pebbles, wood branches, and logs. (Frogs without a hiding spot may grow anxious.) You may also put live plants to the aquarium, although the frog might dig them up. Instead, a lot of individuals choose the artificial approach.

Food and Water

African clawed frogs are frequently fed floating reptiles or amphibian sticks by their owners. Even if these sticks are frequently well-balanced, it is still a good idea to give a range of meals. A few decent choices include waxworms, earthworms, feeder fish, bloodworms, brine shrimp, and freshwater snails. Additionally, several businesses sell commercial food for clawed frogs. It's often not required to supplement with vitamins and minerals as long as you give a healthy balance.

Generally speaking, overfeeding is a bigger issue than underfeeding. Feed your frog every day, and pay attention to the contour of its body. Reduce feedings to once every other day if it appears to be overweight. In addition, ask your vet how much food should be given.

Common Health and Behavior Problems 

bacterial and fungal infections are common in African clawed frogs. They may also have acute bloat or dropsy. Eyes that are blurry and skin that is red or painful are typical symptoms of bacterial infections. Discolored eyes and a white growth on the skin that mimics cotton are indicators of a significant fungal infection.

Additionally, red-leg illness is a problem for African clawed frogs, like the majority of aquatic frogs kept in captivity. The name of this parasite infection comes from one of its early symptoms, reddish legs. A veterinarian can quickly diagnose and treat this illness.

Disease is often due to poor water quality in the tank. If you're concerned that your frog is unwell, don't try to treat it with a home remedy. Always consult a qualified veterinarian for advice.

Choosing Your African Clawed Frog

It is better to choose a frog that has been raised in captivity from a reputable breeder or rescue group. You should be able to learn about the animal's history of illness and origin from the group. You should budget $20 to $30. Frogs in good health swim actively, regularly conceal, have clean eyes, and have smooth skin. A frog that is sluggish and reluctant to eat when provided should be avoided since it is probably ill.

Similar Species to the African Clawed Frog

If you’re interested in similar pets, check out:

Otherwise, check out other types of reptiles and amphibians that can be your new pet.

  • Where can I buy an African clawed frog?

    African clawed frogs are available in many pet stores, as well as through online merchants.

  • Why do African clawed frogs croak?

    Male African clawed frogs croak when it's mating season and as they are looking to attract potential females to mate with.

  • When does an African clawed frog reach sexual maturity?

    At about 10 to 12 months, African clawed frog's reach sexual maturity.


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