Xenopus laevis (African clawed frog)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Distribution Table
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Causes
- Pathway Vectors
- Impact Summary
- Threatened Species
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Uses List
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Principal Source
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Xenopus laevis (Daudin 1802)
Preferred Common Name
- African clawed frog
Other Scientific Names
- Bufo laevis (Daudin 1802)
- Dactylethera boiei (Tschudi 1838)
- Dactylethera laevis (Blanford 1870)
- Dactylethra capensis (Cuvier 1829)
- Dactylethra delalandii (Cuvier 1836)
- Dactylethra levis (Duméril and Bibron 1841)
- Engystoma laevis (Fitzinger 1826)
- Leptopus oxydactylus (Mayer 1835)
- Pipa laevis (Merrem 1820)
- Xenopus boiei (Wagler 1827)
International Common Names
- English: clawed frog; clawed toad; common platanna; upland clawed frog
Local Common Names
- Germany: Glatter Krallenfrosch
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
Xenopus laevis (the African clawed frog) is the standard experimental amphibian used in laboratories pan-globally. Escapees have formed viable and invasive populations in many climates, where individuals are generalist aquatic carnivores, predating on invertebrates, amphibians and fish.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Chordata
- Subphylum: Vertebrata
- Class: Amphibia
- Order: Anura
- Family: Pipidae
- Genus: Xenopus
- Species: Xenopus laevis
DescriptionTop of page
Frogs of the genus Xenopus are the only frogs with clawed toes and the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) is the largest species, adults reaching 120mm. Larvae are mid-water suspension feeders, having long barbels and little pigmentation.
DistributionTop of page
Native range: Angola; Botswana; Burundi; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Kenya; Lesotho; Malawi; Mozambique; Namibia; Nigeria; Rwanda; South Africa; Swaziland; Tanzania; Uganda; Zambia; Zimbabwe (IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2006).
Known introduced range: Chile; France; Indonesia; Mexico; United Kingdom; United States of America (IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2006).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Saint Helena||Present||Present based on regional distribution.|
|France||Present||Introduced||First reported: 1980s|
|United States||Present||Introduced||Invasive||First reported: 1930s|
HabitatTop of page
The African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis) is a water-dependent species occurring in a very wide range of habitats, including heavily modified anthropogenic habitats. It lives in all sorts of waterbodies, including streams, but tends to avoid large rivers, and waterbodies with predatory fish. It reaches its highest densities in eutrophic water. It breeds in water; there are no records of it breeding in flowing water. It has very high reproductive potential. It is a highly opportunistic species, and colonizes newly recreated, apparently isolated, waterbodies with ease. It can migrate in large numbers when breeding ponds start to dry up, and the weather is wet (IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2006).
X. laevis exhibit high salt tolerance (40% seawater), pH (5-9) and temperature variation (2-35+). They are capable of aestivation during dry periods. They have been selected as laboratory animals for their ease of maintenance and resistance to disease. They are often available as pets but also distributed via laboratories.
Habitat ListTop of page
|Terrestrial||Natural / Semi-natural||Wetlands||Present, no further details|
|Freshwater||Lakes||Present, no further details|
|Freshwater||Rivers / streams||Present, no further details|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
Xenopus laevis prey on aquatic invertebrates, amphibians and fish. They are capable of taking terrestrial prey. Cannabalism of larvae is thought to be important.
Sexual. External fertilisation of eggs, which are deposited singly in water. Xenopus laevis has a prolonged breeding season in its native South Africa, and is noted to be year round in California.
Gravid females are recorded as containing from 1,000 to 27,000 eggs, with larger females producing larger clutches. They will produce multiple clutches in a season under favourable conditions.
African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis) are noted for being principally aquatic throughout their lives. Sexual maturity within one year is possible. Eggs are laid singly. Tadpoles typically take 3 months to metamorphosis. Captive adults have been known to live to 20 years. Adults are capable of overland migration.
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Other: Exported from South Africa for use in laboratories pan-globally.
Pet/aquarium trade: Often sold as pets.
Impact SummaryTop of page
ImpactTop of page
African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis) predate on and compete with native species. They are possibly toxic to predators. They are also known to make water bodies turbid.
Threatened SpeciesTop of page
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page
- Has high reproductive potential
- Threat to/ loss of native species
- Competition - monopolizing resources
- Pest and disease transmission
- Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately
Uses ListTop of page
- Laboratory use
- Pet/aquarium trade
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
Preventative measures: The African clawed frog ( Xenopus laevis) is included in the list of declared animals and birds in Western Australia and has been gazetted as a ‘Declared Animal’ under the Agriculture and Related Resources Protection Act 1976. The catergories assigned to it are A1 = no entry, A2 = eradicate in the wild, A3 = no keeping (Massam et al. 2004).
Risk Assessment models for assessing the risk that exotic vertebrates could establish in Australia have been further explored by the Western Australia Department of Agriculture & Food (DAFWA) to confirm that they reasonably predict public safety, establishment and pest risks across a full range of exotic species and risk levels.
The Risk assessment for the African Clawed Frog (Xenopus laevis), has been assigned a VPC Threat Category of EXTREME.
Mammals and birds were assessed for the pest risk they pose if introduced to Australia, by calculating Vertebrate Pests Committee (VPC) Threat Categories. These categories incorporate risk of establishing populations in the wild, risk of causing public harm, and risk of becoming a pest (eg causing agricultural damage, competing with native fauna, etc). The 7-factor Australian Bird and Mammal Model was used for these assessments.
Physical and Chemical: Lafferty and Page (1997) suggest that the use of traps may be the best option to lower densities of the African clawed frog in the Santa Clara River Estuary, California, as other options like the use of chemicals or introduction of predatory fish may have devastating effects on native species like the endangered tidewater gobies. Recent studies show that it is not impacted by the herbicide atrazine (IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2006).
BibliographyTop of page
Bomford, M., 2003. Risk Assessment for the Import and Keeping of Exotic Vertebrates in Australia. Bureau of Rural Sciences, Canberra. http://www.feral.org.au/feral_documents/PC12803.pdf
Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (CEFAS)., 2008. Decision support tools-Identifying potentially invasive non-native marine and freshwater species: fish, invertebrates, amphibians. http://www.cefas.co.uk/projects/risks-and-impacts-of-non-native-species/decision-support-tools.aspx
CONABIO. 2008. Sistema de información sobre especies invasoras en México. Especies invasoras - Anfibios. Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad. Fecha de acceso. http://www.conabio.gob.mx/invasoras/index.php/Especies_invasoras_-_Anfibios
Fouquet, Antoine.; Measey, G. John., 2006. Plotting the course of an African clawed frog invasion in Western France. Animal Biology, Vol. 56, No. 1, pp. 95-102 (2006)
IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2006. Global Amphibian Assessment. Downloaded on 4 May 2006. http://www.globalamphibians.org/
Lafferty, K. D. and Page, C. J. 1997. Predation on the endangered tidewater goby, Eucyclogobius newberryi, by the introduced African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, with notes on the frog's parasites. Copeia 1997: 589-592.
Lobos, G & Jaksic, FM 2005.The ongoing invasion of African clawed frogs (Xenopus laevis) in Chile: causes for concern. Biodiversity and Conservation 14: 429-439.
Lobos, G., Cattan, P. and Lopez, M. 1999. Antecedentes de la ecologia trofica del sapo Africano Xenopus laevis en la zona central de Chile.. Bolet¡n del Museo Nacional de Historia Natural, Chile 48.
Lobos, Gabriel and G. John Measey., 2002. Invasive populations of Xenopus laevis (Daudin) in Chile. Herpertological Journal, Vol. 12, pp. 163-168 (2002)
Louis A. Somma. 2008. Xenopus laevis. USGS Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL.
Massam, Marion and Win Kirkpatrick, Peter Mawson, Norm Press, Tony Bennell and Neil Hamilton., Revised 2007. Importing and keeping introduced mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians in Western Australia. Bulletin 4604 ISSN 1448-0352 February 2004. Department of Agriculture. Government of Western Australia. http://www.agric.wa.gov.au/content/AAP/OL/BULLETIN4604.PDF
McCoid, M. J. 1985. An observation of reproductive behavior in a wild population of African clawed frogs, Xenopus laevis, in California. Calif. Fish Game 71: 245-246.
McCoid, M. J. and Fritts, T. H. 1980. Notes on the diet of a feral population of Xenopus laevis (Pipidae) in California. SWest. Nat. 25: 272-275.
McCoid, M. J. and Fritts, T. H. 1980. Observations of feral populations of Xenopus laevis (Pipidae) in Southern California. Bull. Sth. Calif. Acad. Sci. 79: 82-86.
McCoid, M. J. and Fritts, T. H. 1989. Growth and fatbody cycles in feral populations of the African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis (Pipidae), in California with comments on reproduction. SWest. Nat. 34: 499-505.
McCoid, M. J. and Fritts, T. H. 1993. Speculations on colonizing success of the African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis (Pipidae). California. S. Afr. J. Zool. 28: 59-61.
McCoid, M. J., Pregill, G. K. and Sullivan, R. M. 1993. Possible decline of Xenopus populations in southern California. Herpet. Rev. 24: 29-30.
Measey, G. J. & Tinsley, R. C. 1998. Feral Xenopus laevis in South Wales. Herpetological Journal 8: 23±27.
Measey, G. J. 1998. Diet of feral Xenopus laevis in South Wales, UK. J. Zool., Lond. 246: 287-298.
Measey, G. J. 2001. Growth and ageing of Xenopus laevis (Daudin) in South Wales, UK. J. Zool., Lond. in press.
NatureServe. 2007. NatureServe Explorer: Xenopus laevis - (Daudin, 1802) An online encyclopedia of life [web application]. Version 6.2. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia. http://www.natureserve.org/explorer/servlet/NatureServe?searchName=Xenopus+laevis
Tinsley, R. C. and McCoid, M. C. 1996. Feral populations of Xenopus outside Africa. In Tinsley, R. C. and Kobel, H. R. (eds.) The Biology of Xenopus. Oxford University Press, Oxford: 81-94.
Varnham, K. 2006. Non-native species in UK Overseas Territories: a review. JNCC Report 372. Peterborough: United Kingdom. http://www.jncc.gov.uk/page-3660
ReferencesTop of page
CABI Data Mining, 2001. CAB Abstracts Data Mining.,
CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status inferred from regional distribution. Wallingford, UK: CABI
Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG), 2011. Global Invasive Species Database (GISD). In: Global Invasive Species Database (GISD), Auckland, New Zealand: University of Auckland. http://www.issg.org/database
ContributorsTop of page
- Last Modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Distribution MapsTop of page
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CABI Summary Records
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