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African Clawed frogs, Xenopus laevis, are large flat frog species native to wetlands, ponds, and lakes across barren regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. Also known as “Platanna,” these claw-toed frogs stand out in genetics, being the first vertebrate to be cloned in a laboratory.
See the fact file below for more information on the African Clawed Frog or alternatively, you can download our 20-page African Clawed Frog worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The African Claw-toed frogs are species of aquatic frogs of the family Pipidae.
- Xenopus translates to “strange foot” and laevis means “smooth.” It got its scientific name from its three short claws on each hind foot.
- The Platanna’s body is flat, with a smaller, wedge-shaped head. They are the largest species of the Xenopus genus, with adults reaching 120 mm in length and weighing around 200 g.
- Their eyes and nostrils are located on top of their heads. These frogs have smooth skin, sometimes having two or more colors, with patches of greenish-gray or brown on their back.
- They have cream colored bellies with a yellow hue. Their limbs are small with non-webbed fingers; however, their hind legs are big and webbed, having three toes on each foot with cornified tips that look like”claws”.
- African Clawed frogs also have a lateral line, a series of stitch marks along each side of their body. As members of the family Pipidae, they do not possess a tongue and their ears are not clearly seen. Males also have no vocal chords.
- Females are usually larger than males, weighing about 200 g and are 10 to 12 cm long. Male African Clawed frogs reach only 60 g and are about 5 to 6 cm long.
- African Clawed frogs camouflage well in their surroundings. They also have the capacity to become lighter, darker, or mottled, in order to match their background. This mechanism helps them hide from their natural predators.
- They are excellent swimmers; however, these frogs are not agile on land. The Plantanna is not your typical frog which normally hops when going to places. Instead, they would rather crawl. When in water, they can swim at amazing speeds in all directions.
- Despite having no vocal sacs, males are still able to vocalize in order to attract their potential mates. This is because of the fast contractions of their laryngeal muscles, thus, producing a clicking sound. Females accept the invitation by creating rapping sounds. They reject by generating a slow ticking noise.
- These frogs shed every season and feed on their own shed skin.
Since their eyes and nose are on top of their heads, African Clawed frogs are bottom-dwelling amphibians, giving them higher protection from predators. They only leave their natural habitat if they are obliged to migrate.
HABITAT AND DIET
- African Clawed frogs are carnivorous apex predators underwater.
- Tadpoles are filter feeders. As they age, adult clawed frogs turn into scavengers, feeding on living, dead, or dying water bugs, small fish, and invertebrates, such as insects, snails, spiders, and worms.
- They catch their prey using their claws, shoving them on their mouth instantly. The claws on their hind feet rip apart larger chunks of food.
- Their natural predators include small mammals, such as rodents, cats, dogs, birds, and reptiles, but the herons mostly put these frogs’ lives in danger.
- When they are in the wild, these frogs are commonly infected by parasites, such as monogeneans in the urinary bladder.
- The Plantanna is native to the western regions of the Great African Rift, Namibia, and Angola. These frogs dwell on muddy bottoms of lakes and rivers all over the world. They prefer warm, stagnant, quiet waters in temperatures from 60 to 80°F.
- African Clawed frogs sexually mature after 12 months. They mate four times a year, usually during early spring to summer, depending on the location.
- Mating happens at night in idle water, and lasts for three to four hours. Males grab females tightly around the pelvic region, forming an amplexus position.
- Females lay 500 to 2000 eggs. These eggs hatch within seven days; tadpoles are somewhat less than ⅕ of an inch long. It takes 3 months for tadpoles to undergo metamorphosis.
- African Clawed frogs are expected to live up to 15 years in the wild.
CONSERVATION AND LIFE TODAY
- Currently, the IUCN lists the African Clawed frog as species of least concern. Although they are not vulnerable to being endangered, their population continues to decrease due to the deteriorating water quality.
- African Clawed frog females were first used as a type of pregnancy test.
- These frogs are also used for studying model organisms by researchers and biologists. They were the first invertebrates to be cloned in a laboratory.
African Clawed Frog Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the African Clawed Frog across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use African Clawed Frog worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the African Clawed frogs, Xenopus laevis, which are large flat frog species native to wetlands, ponds, and lakes across barren regions of Sub-Saharan Africa. Also known as “Platanna,” these claw-toed frogs stand out in genetics, being the first vertebrate to be cloned in a laboratory.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- African Clawed Frog Facts
- What About Plantanna?
- A Frog’s Anatomy
- Plantanna Facts
- A Frog’s Life
- More About This Frog
- Two Similar Frogs
- Frogs in Our Area
- Other Frogs
- As Pe(s)ts
- Frogs in Science
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Link will appear as African Clawed Frog Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, January 9, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.