Scientific name: Xenopus laevis

What Is It?

The African clawed frog is a predatory aquatic frog that is highly adaptable to diverse environmental conditions including freezing and droughts. It reproduces so rapidly that it can double its population and range within 10 years.

Is It Here Yet?

Yes. African clawed frogs infest two separate watersheds in Washington. They have entered the state through the aquarium and pet trades, and possibly via release after being used in science classes.

Why Should I Care?

African clawed frogs harm native ecosystems by competing with native species. They also have the potential to introduce harmful pathogens that hurt native amphibian and fish populations, including salmon. This decreases recreational fishing potential, in addition to the need to quarantine infested water bodies and close them off to public use.

How Can We Stop It?

Don’t buy or share these frogs at any life stage (from eggs to adults). Do not release unwanted pet frogs to the wild. African clawed frogs are classified as a Prohibited Aquatic Animal Species in Washington, meaning they may not be possessed, purchased, sold, propagated, transported, or released into state waters. In Washington, African clawed frogs only may be caught or killed by angling, hand dip netting, spearing (gigging), or with bow and arrow.

To learn more about what to do with unwanted pets, see out “Don’t Let it Loose” campaign page.

What Are Its Characteristics?

  • Up to about 5 inches long, not including their legs.
  • Smooth-skinned and plump.
  • Range in color from mottled grey to brown, with a pale underbelly.
  • Hind feet are particularly large, with clawed toes.

How Do I Distinguish It From Native Species?

Native green and bronze frogs have two parallel lines of raised glandular skin between the back and sides; the bullfrog does not have these features. African clawed frogs may be distinguished in that native frogs tend to only inhabit water to breed, otherwise living on land, but near water. Native frogs are smaller, rougher-textured, and less plump-looking than African clawed frogs. Look up native species (Pacific treefrogs, red-legged frogs, Columbia spotted frogs, Oregon spotted frogs, Cascade frogs) for individual distinguishing details.

Additional Photographs