Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Xenopus laevis
(African clawed frog)

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Datasheet

Xenopus laevis (African clawed frog)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 08 November 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Xenopus laevis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • African clawed frog
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Amphibia
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • Xenopus laevis (the African clawed frog) is the standard experimental amphibian used in laboratories pan-globally. Escapees have formed viable and invasive pop...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Xenopus laevis (African clawed frog); captive specimen. Ulm Zoological Garden, Germany. December, 2011.
TitleAdult
CaptionXenopus laevis (African clawed frog); captive specimen. Ulm Zoological Garden, Germany. December, 2011.
Copyright©Holger Krisp, Ulm, Germany - CC BY 3.0
Xenopus laevis (African clawed frog); captive specimen. Ulm Zoological Garden, Germany. December, 2011.
AdultXenopus laevis (African clawed frog); captive specimen. Ulm Zoological Garden, Germany. December, 2011.©Holger Krisp, Ulm, Germany - CC BY 3.0
Xenopus laevis (African clawed frog);  adult, captive specimen
TitleAdult
CaptionXenopus laevis (African clawed frog); adult, captive specimen
Copyright©Brian Gratwicke-2013/Washington, DC, USA - CC BY 2.0
Xenopus laevis (African clawed frog);  adult, captive specimen
AdultXenopus laevis (African clawed frog); adult, captive specimen©Brian Gratwicke-2013/Washington, DC, USA - CC BY 2.0

Identity

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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 Invasiveness

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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 Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Amphibia
  •                     Order: Anura
  •                         Family: Pipidae
  •                             Genus: Xenopus
  •                                 Species: Xenopus laevis

Description

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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.

Distribution

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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 Table

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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.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

IsraelPresentIntroduced1996ISSG, 2011

Africa

Saint HelenaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-AscensionPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011

North America

MexicoPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
USAPresentIntroduced1930nulls Invasive ISSG, 2011
-ArizonaPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011
-CaliforniaPresentIntroduced Invasive ISSG, 2011
-ColoradoPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011

South America

ChilePresentIntroduced1973 Invasive ISSG, 2011

Europe

FrancePresentIntroduced1980nullsISSG, 2011
GermanyPresentCAB ABSTRACTS Data Mining 2001
UKPresentIntroducedISSG, 2011

Habitat

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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 List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Freshwater
Lakes Present, no further details
Rivers / streams Present, no further details
Terrestrial-natural/semi-natural
Wetlands Present, no further details

Biology and Ecology

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Nutrition
Xenopus laevis prey on aquatic invertebrates, amphibians and fish. They are capable of taking terrestrial prey. Cannabalism of larvae is thought to be important.

    Reproduction
    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.

      Lifecycle stages
      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 Dispersal

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        Other: Exported from South Africa for use in laboratories pan-globally.
        Pet/aquarium trade: Often sold as pets.

        Pathway Causes

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        CauseNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
        Pet trade Yes Yes
        Research Yes

        Pathway Vectors

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        VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
        Water Yes

        Impact Summary

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        CategoryImpact
        Biodiversity (generally) Negative

        Impact

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        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 Species

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        Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
        Eucyclogobius newberryi (tidewater goby)NT (IUCN red list: Near threatened) NT (IUCN red list: Near threatened); USA ESA listing as endangered species USA ESA listing as endangered speciesCaliforniaPredationUS Fish and Wildlife Service, 2005

        Risk and Impact Factors

        Top of page Invasiveness
        • Has high reproductive potential
        Impact outcomes
        • Threat to/ loss of native species
        Impact mechanisms
        • Competition - monopolizing resources
        • Pest and disease transmission
        • Predation
        Likelihood of entry/control
        • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately

        Uses List

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        General

        • Laboratory use
        • Pet/aquarium trade

        Prevention and Control

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        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).

        Bibliography

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        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

         

        Contributors

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          Compiled by: IUCN SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group Updates with support from the Overseas Territories Environmental Programme (OTEP) project XOT603, a joint project with the Cayman Islands Government - Department of Environment

          Last Modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010

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