African Clawed frog (Xenopus laevis)

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Category: Amphibians
Common names: African Clawed frog
Invasive species classification: Prohibited
Invasive species family: Pipidae

This species of frog can take over a habitat, and either out-compete or consume native species of frogs and fish. African clawed frogs also are often carriers of diseases that are harmful to amphibians and fish.

If you observe African clawed frogs or any other known or suspected aquatic invasive species in a previously unreported waterbody, please report the sighting to WDFW.

It is important to limit handling of African clawed frogs, due to the diseases these frogs could carry. Anyone who comes into contact with African clawed frogs should thoroughly clean his or her hands.

Report new sightings to the Washington Invasive Species Council

Description and Range

Physical description

African clawed frogs have olive to brown skin, often with blotches or spots. These frogs have neither eye lids nor tongues. Their front feet are unwebbed while their back ones are fully webbed and have black, sharp claws. Mature female frogs grow to be about the size of an adult human fist.

These frogs have a long life span, an extended breeding season, and are prolific reproducers. They are capable of surviving through severe drought and freezing conditions. Similar to bullfrogs, African clawed frogs will eat anything that will fit into their mouths including other frogs, fish, birds and snails.

Geographic range

African clawed frogs are native to sub-Saharan Africa and were originally imported to the United States for laboratory use and as pets. Infestations of the species has been reported in California, Colorado, Arizona, Wisconsin and several states on the east coast.

WDFW has confirmed African clawed frog infestations in two locations: in storm water ponds near Lacey and in a storm water pond near Bothell.

In both instances, the department believes the frog populations initially were established due to people dumping aquarium pets into the ponds.

Invasive species information

Invasive species additional information

Prevent the spread of African clawed frogs

For the most part, African clawed frogs are dispersed into the wild after escaping or being let go from pet owners, pet stores and research facilities. It is illegal to release aquatic invasive species into Washington’s waters.

Boaters, kayakers, anglers and anyone who recreates or works in Washington's waters should take measures to help prevent the spread of African clawed frogs.

For more details on the prevention methods, visit WDFW's webpage on preventing the spread of aquatic invasive species.