Xenopus laevis
Xenopus laevis
(African Clawed Frog)
Amphibians-Frogs
Exotic
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Xenopus laevis (Daudin, 1802)

Common name: African Clawed Frog

Synonyms and Other Names: Common Platanna.

Channing (2001) lists a variety of vernacular names for African clawed frogs.

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: Xenopus laevis is a dorsoventrally flattened frog with a relatively small head and a SVL (snout-vent length) of 50-over 140 mm (2-over 5 in) (Passmore and Carruthers, 1995; Kobel et al., 1996; Channing, 2001; Stebbins, 2003; Elliott et al., 2009; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012). The small, lidless eyes are located dorsally and turned upward (Stebbins, 2003; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012). There is no visible tympanum (Channing, 2001; Dodd, 2013). The forefeet have slender, unwebbed fingers (Channing, 2001; Stebbins, 2003; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012; Dodd, 2013), which are generally held pointed in a forward direction. In mature adults, the hindfeet are large, fully webbed, and have sharp black claws on the three innermost toes (Channing, 2001; Stebbins, 2003; Powell et al., 2012; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012; Dodd, 2013), hence the comman name African Clawed Frog. These frogs have no tongue (Stebbins, 2003), and a minute tentacle is located beneath each eye (Passmore and Carruthers, 1995; Channing, 2001; Stebbins, 2003). The skin is very smooth except where the lateral line sensory system gives it a "stitched" appearance (Stebbins, 2003; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012; Dodd, 2013). The dorsal coloration of X. laevis is olive to brown, often with blotches, spots, or mottling (Passmore and Carruthers, 1995; Kobel et al., 1996; Channing, 2001; Stebbins, 2003; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012; Dodd, 2013). It does not hold its legs beneath itself to raise its body above the substrate when on land. No other frog in North America looks like this representative from the family Pipidae. Its underwater calls, which are vocalized by both sexes, consist of long, rapid, high trills that slow down to a rattling "riitrriirrr…" (Kobel et al., 1996; Stebbins, 2003; Elliott et al., 2009); a recording is available on a CD (Elliott et al., 2009). The unique tadpole is translucent, has a tentacle on each side of its mouth, and a slender tail ending in a filament (St. Amant and Hoover, 1973; Thompson and Franks, 1978, 1979; Channing, 2001; Stebbins, 2003; Lemm, 2006; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012; Dodd, 2013).

Xenopus laevis has been illustrated by a variety of authors (St. Amant and Hoover, 1973; von Filek, 1973; Deucher, 1975; Thompson and Franks, 1978, 1979; Stebbins, 1985, 2003; Videler and Jorna, 1985; Wever, 1985; Alderton, 1986; Mattison, 1987; Bartlett, 1989; Nieuwkoop and Faber, 1994; Passmore and Carruthers, 1995; Davies and Davies, 1997; Bernardini, 1999; Sire et al., 2000; Channing, 2001; Fouquet, 2001; Arnold and Ovenden, 2003; Reed, 2005; Brennan and Holycross, 2006; Lemm, 2006; Anonymous, 2007; Elliott et al., 2009; Krysko et al., 2011: MorphoBank Project No. p536, www.morphobank.com; Powell et al., 2012; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012; Dodd, 2013).

Size: SVL (snout-vent length) of 50-over 140 mm (2-over 5 in).

Native Range: Xenopus laevis, as currently defined, is indigenous to much of southern and sub-Saharan Africa including Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland,  Lesotho, Botswana, Zambia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and probably Angola (Poynton 1999, Channing 2001, Measey and Channing 2003). It is unclear if populations of Xenopus in African countries further to the northeast and northwest of this range are actually conspecific, and more research is required to delineate this species’ full indigenous range (Measey and Channing 2003), although Channing and Howell (2006) exclude them from eastern Africa.

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Nonindigenous Occurrences: Arizona: Xenopus laevis was intentionally introduced into man-made ponds in Arthur Park Golf Course, Tucson, Pima County, Arizona, in the 1960s (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996). Other X. laevis were released into man-made bodies of water in southern Arizona by the same individual (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996). D. Swann (personal communication 1997) also has observed X. laevis in golf course ponds in Tucson.

California: In California, X. laevis were first collected from several localities in Orange County (Westminster, East Garden Grove-Winterburg Channel, Slater Lake, Fountain Valley [Ocean View Channel and an associated lake], and Greenfield-Banning Channel southeast of the Santa Ana River) in the late 1960s through the early 1970s (Lenaker, 1972; St. Amant and Hoover, 1973; Bury and Luckenbach, 1976; Tinsley and McCoid, 1996). Additional specimens were collected in Irvine, Orange County, in 1989 (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996). Since it was first introduced to California, X. laevis has been found in the following counties:  San Bernardino County (Prado Basin, Chino Hills State Park) (Stebbins, 2003; B. Goodman in Crayon 2005; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012), San Diego County (Sweetwater [west Mt. Helix area], San Diego, Otay, Rancho Jamul, and Tijuana Rivers, Tecolote and Dulzura Creeks, and Spring Valley) (Bury and Luckenbach, 1976; Stebbins, 1985, 2003; Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; Kuperman et al., 2004; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012; output from California Academy of Sciences), Santa Barbara County (Goleta Slough) (Stebbins, 2003; S. Sweet in Crayon, 2005; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012), Los Angeles County (Santa Clara River, Munz Lake, Palmdale, Upper Rio Hondo, Compton Creek, Vasquez Rocks County Park, Edwards Air Force Base [Piute Ponds], and ponds and streams in Soledad, Agua Dulce and Placerita Canyons) (Bury and Luckenbach, 1976; Stebbins, 1985, 2003; Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012; output from California Academy of Sciences), Riverside County (Arroyo Seco Creek and surrounding ponds, Santa Margarita River drainage, Santa Ana River, Vail Lake, and Riverside city) (McCoid and Fritts, 1980, 1989; Stebbins, 1985, 2003; Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; Kuperman et al., 2004), Imperial County (irrigation canals) (Stebbins, 1985; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012), Kern County (Edwards Air Force Base) (Stebbins, 2003; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012), San Francisco County (Lily Pond in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco) (E. Mills in Lagos, 2004), Ventura County (Santa Clara River and estuary, and Vern Freeman Diversion at Saticoy) (Lafferty and Page, 1997; output from California Academy of Sciences), and Yolo County (University of California Davis campus) (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; Stebbins, 2003; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012).

Colorado: In June 1990, a single X. laevis was found under a submerged log in a relic beaver pond associated with the North Fork of the Snake River, Summit County, Colorado (Bacchus et al., 1993; Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; Livo et al., 1998). The water was partially frozen and slushy (Bacchus et al., 1993).

Florida: In 1964, about 200 African Clawed Frogs were released into Hialeah (Red Road) Canal, Hialeah, Mimi-Dade County, Florida, by an animal importer (King and Krakauer, 1966). An additional Florida record includes a single X. laevis found near Tampa, Hillsborough County, with no date of collection or voucher recorded (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996), although S. Godley (personal communication 2014), M. McCoid (personal communication 2014), and R. McDiarmid (personal communication 2014) state the specimen was collected sometime during the mid-1970s and give the locality as Riverview, which is in the Tampa Bay area. This specimen has since been lost (R. McDiarmid, personal communication 2014; H. Mushinsky, personal communication 2014). In December 2013 and January 2014 two more X. laevis (UF-Herpetology 172054-55) were collected in Riverview, and a third from the same location on 10 June 2014 (UF-Herpetology 173050). On 27 June 2010 at 1430 h, an adult X. laevis was collected and vouchered (UF 158477, MorphoBank M88444) while dip-netting in a retention pond on Knox McRae Drive, 0.08 km east of Sussana Lane, Titusville, Brevard County, Florida (Krysko et al., 2011; Dodd, 2013). On 9 August 2014, an adult X. laevis (UF-Herpetology 173224 [FWC 47425]) was collected at 19251 SW 318 Terrace, Homestead, Miami-Dade County.

Massachusetts: Newly transformed X. laevis were collected from a small pond at the Acton Arboretum, Acton, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, in 1993 (Cardoza et al., 1993).

North Carolina: A population of X. laevis existed in fish hatchery ponds at an unknown locality in North Carolina during an unspecified period of time (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996). This is probably the same population cited by McCoid (in McCoid and Kleberg, 1995).

Virginia: A nonindigenous population of X. laevis was first observed in an artificial pond in a nature preserve (unnamed) in Virginia, "south of Washington, D.C.," in 1982 and sampled by R. Tinsley in 1987 (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996). Afterwards, local conservation personnel systematically collected hundreds of adults and juveniles (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996). Ernst et al. (1997) mention 30 recently transformed X. laevis collected from a pond at the Gulf Branch Nature Center, Arlington, Arlington County, between 15 May and 30 June 1984 (C. Ernst, personal communication 1997). These probably represent the same population mentioned by Tinsley and McCoid (1996).

Wisconsin: In 1972, a "large number" of late-stage larval X. laevis were collected from an artificial pond in Greenfield Park, Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996).

Other U.S. western states: African Clawed Frogs are "rumored" to occur in Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming (Smith and Kohler, 1978). Perhaps these are the other unnamed states vaguely alluded to by Tinsley and McCoid (1996). Xenopus laevis has been collected from an undisclosed locality in Texas (Dixon, 2013).

Mexico: Nonindigenous X. laevis have spread into Baja California, Mexico, through the Tijuana River and intersecting irrigation canals from California (Murphy, 1983; Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; Peralta-García et al., 2014).

Chile: Nonindigenous African clawed frogs were first reported in Chile in 1985 (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996), although their original introduction may have taken place as early as 1973 (Jaksic, 1998). Additional specimens were captured on land with Sherman traps, in the Santiago area, in 2001 (Lobos and Garín, 2002). Xenopus laevis has since spread into IV Region (Limari River Basin), VI Region, and throughout Metropolitan Region, and V Region (Lobos and Jaksic, 2005).

Atlantic: Nonindigenous X. laevis were collected from Ascension Island in the southern Atlantic, in 1944 and 1958, near the summit of Green Mountain (Loveridge, 1959). Additional X. laevis were observed in a mountaintop pond (probably from the same aforementioned population) in the early 1980s (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996).

Europe: Xenopus laevis specimens have been collected in the Hamburg area, Germany, and Gorichem and Utrecht, the Netherlands (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; Rabitsch et al., 2013), France, Italy (Sicily) (Fouquet, 2001; Lillo et al., 2005; Eggert and Fouquet, 2006; Fouquet and Measey, 2006; Faraone et al., 2008; Kraus, 2009; Measey et al., 2012), Sweden, Portugal, and Spain (Rebelo et al., 2010; Mateo et al., 2011; Measey et al., 2012). Additional X. laevis were released in Germany by animal rights activists in the 1990s. In the United Kingdom, populations of X. laevis have been found on the Isle of Wight, southern Wales, London, Kent (East Sussex border), Humberside (Scunthorpe), and various southwestern waterways in England (Arnold, 1995; Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; Arnold and Ovenden, 2002; Measey et al., 2012; Tinsley et al., 2012).

Japan: African Clawed Frogs have been collected from various localities in Japan (Kraus, 2009; Measey et al., 2012).

Israel: A single individual was recorded in Emek Hefer, Israel, in 1996 (Measey et al., 2012).

Ecology: Xenopus laevis is a primarily aquatic, highly adaptable frog that can inhabit almost any body of water, natural or man-made, and tolerates sewage and relatively saline (up to 14%; or 40% seawater) waters (Passmore and Carruthers, 1995; Tinsley et al., 1996; Lafferty and Page, 1997; Channing, 2001; Elliott et al., 2009; Dodd, 2013). It can survive fairly cold, temperate climates and can easily disperse overland in order to exploit new habitats, particularly newly created man-made habitats (McCoid and Fritts, 1993; Tinsley et al., 1996; Channing, 2001; Lobos and Garín, 2002; Crayon, 2005; Lobos and Jaksic, 2005; Faraone et al., 2008; Measey et al., 2012; Dodd, 2013). In Africa and Chile, X. laevis often migrates over land in swarms containing hundreds or thousands of individuals (Tinsley et al., 1996; Channing, 2001; Lobos and Jaksic, 2005). Some of these mass migrations are stimulated by droughts (Tinsley et al., 1996; Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; Channing, 2001; Lobos and Jaksic, 2005; Dodd, 2013). Nocturnal overland excursions may be quite common (Tinsley et al., 1996; Lobos and Garín, 2002). In Chile, it is spreading at a rate of 3.1-3.9 km/year through both overland migration and the use of irrigation canals in agricultural areas (Lobos and Jaksic, 2005). African Clawed Frogs can survive droughts by burrowing into the substrate (Tinsley et al., 1996; Channing, 2001; Dodd, 2013). Their unique sliding pelvis apparatus allows them to avoid predators by diving backwards from the water surface (Videler and Jorna, 1985). Moreover, powerful toxins in the skin can deter some predators (McCoid and Fritts, 1993; Tinsley et al., 1996; Channing, 2001). These carnivores mostly consume aquatic invertebrates, but also include small vertebrates, including other X. laevis, in their diet (McCoid and Fritts, 1980, 1993; Tinsley et al., 1996; Lafferty and Page, 1997; Measey, 1998a; Channing, 2001; Crayon, 2005; Lobos and Jaksic, 2005; Dodd, 2013). Additionally, it is capable of capturing terrestrial prey (Measey, 1998b). Xenopus laevis can survive starvation conditions for at least 12 months and can rapidly regain lost weight when food is once again available (Tinsley et al., 1996). The hardy adults live up to 12 years, with a record of over 30 years (McCoid and Fritts, 1989; Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; Channing, 2001; Tinsley et al., 2012). African Clawed Frogs are highly fecund and mate underwater; the amplectant male fertilizing thousands of eggs as the female oviposits (von Filek, 1973; McCoid and Fritts, 1993; Channing, 2001; Crayon, 2005; Brennan and Holycross, 2006; Lemm, 2006; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012; Dodd, 2013). Mating may be stimulated by a sudden increase in water or nutrient levels, including sewage outflows (Tinsley et al., 1996; Channing, 2001). The tadpoles feed on planktonic organisms while suspended upside-down in the water and can occur in such numbers that they can almost sterilize the immediate waters (Channing, 2001; Stebbins, 2003; Lemm, 2006; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012).

 

Means of Introduction: In most cases of nonindigenous occurrences the exact means of introduction is not clearly known. However, X. laevis has long been used in laboratory research, for studies in genetics, physiology, biochemistry, developmental biology, human pregnancy diagnosis (Shapiro and Zwarenstein, 1934; Deuchar, 1975; Thompson and Franks, 1978, 1979; Stebbins, 1985, 2003; Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; Fouquet, 2001; Reed, 2005; Anonymous, 2007; Evans et al., 2008; Elliott et al., 2009; Kraus, 2009; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012; Dodd, 2013), and it became established in many laboratory aquaria throughout the world during the 1950s and 1960s (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012; Dodd, 2013; Vredenburg et al., 2013). Earliest reports of established nonindigenous populations of X. laevis worldwide are coincident with the end of their use in human pregnancy diagnosis (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; Measey et al., 2012). Loveridge (1959) claims that the established nonindigenous population of X. laevis on Ascension Island, in the southern Atlantic, was caused by the use of this species in diagnostic testing on that island during the World War II years. Lillo et al. (2013) demonstrated that X. laevis in Sicily were probably derived from laboratory animals of South African stock. Moreover, X. laevis are popular aquarium pets, known for being nondemanding, unusual pets (von Filek, 1973; Alderton, 1986; Bartlett, 1989; Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; Davies and Davies, 1997; Elliott et al., 2009; Dodd, 2013). Because these frogs live relatively long lives (see below) they are often simply dumped into nearby waters due to loss of interest, the end of an experiment, or misguided ethics (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996). The release of 200 X. laevis into a canal in Miami-Dade County, Florida, was simply due to an animal importer carelessly dumping unwanted stock (King and Krakauer, 1966). The X. laevis collected in Brevard County, Florida, was likely an escaped or released pet (Krysko et al., 2011). The release of X. laevis into the Tucson area and nearby areas of southern Arizona was intentionally caused by a single individual (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996) – simple curiosity?

Status: Massachusetts: The status of X. laevis at first remained unclear in Massachusetts, as the collection of newly transformed frogs (Cardoza et al., 1993) suggested that a breeding population could have spread; however, they are not established at this time (Kraus, 2009).

Virginia: Large numbers of X. laevis were removed from the artificial pond in Virginia through 1987 up to 1988; this may have eliminated them from this immediate vicinity (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996). They are not established (Ernst et al., 1997; Kraus, 2009).

North Carolina: Xenopus laevis was eliminated from the fish hatchery ponds in North Carolina by draining the ponds (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; Kraus, 2009).

Florida: Dodd (2013) speculates the individual X. laevis from Brevard County could be indicative of a population, and more recent collections (December 2013-January 2014) indicate African Clawed Frogs are established in Riverview, near Tampa, Hillsborough County. These Riverview frogs are from a population inhabiting a surrounding complex of aquaculture ponds (many abandoned) and could have been established since the 1970s. It is not known if African Clawed Frogs are currently established in Miami-Dade County.

Wisconsin: No further X. laevis were collected from the artificial pond in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in subsequent years after 1972, indicating they are not established (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; Kraus, 2009).

Colorado: Further collecting at the nonindigenous site in Summit County, Colorado, in June 1991 revealed no more African clawed frogs (Bacchus et al., 1993); thus, they are not established (Kraus, 2009).

Arizona: The only established population of X. laevis in Arizona is in the golf course ponds in Tucson, Pima County (Stebbins, 1985, 2003; Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; D. Swann, personal communication 1997; Crayon, 2005; Brennan and Holycross, 2006; Kraus, 2008, 2009, 2012; Elliott et al., 2009; Measey et al., 2012; Powell et al., 2012; Dodd, 2013). It is probably this population that caused Howland (1996) to consider them established but not widespread in Arizona. African Clawed Frogs are unlikely to spread from the Tucson area, due to the surrounding desert habitat (Brennan and Holycross, 2006).

California: African Clawed Frogs are well established in California (Stebbins, 1985, 2003; Laudenslayer et al., 1991; McCoid and Fritts, 1993; McCoid and Kleberg, 1995; Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; Lemm, 2006; Kraus, 2008, 2009, 2012; Elliott et al., 2009; Measey et al., 2012; Powell et al., 2012; Dodd, 2013). Those populations of X. laevis in Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Riverside, Imperial, Kern, and Ventura Counties are clearly established and invasive (Lenaker, 1972; St. Amant and Hoover, 1973; Bury and Luckenbach, 1976; McCoid and Fritts, 1980, 1989, 1993; Stebbins, 1985, 2003; Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; Lafferty and Page, 1997; Kuperman et al., 2004; Crayon, 2005; Measey et al., 2012; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012; Dodd, 2013). The population of X. laevis at the University of California Davis campus, Davis, Yolo County, was successfully eradicated through poisoning by the California Department of Fish and Game, and as of 1992 was no longer present (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; Stebbins, 2003; Measey et al., 2012; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012). Efforts to eradicate X. laevis in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco (Lagos, 2004) appear successful as of 2011 (Measey et al., 2012). In southern California, X. laevis will continue to spread, assisted by the presence of numerous irrigation canals and ditches that are seasonally or anthropogenically flooded with water.

Other U.S. western states: The rumors of X. laevis existing in Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming have never been verified (Smith and Kohler, 1978). Although collected in Texas, they are not established (Dixon, 2013).

Mexico: Xenopus laevis was considered established in Baja California, Mexico (Murphy, 1983; Flores-Villela, 1993; Smith and Smith, 1993; Mahrdt et al., 2003; Stebbins, 2003; Kraus, 2009). Although these populations need to be monitored to determine their current status (Measey et al., 2012), another established population in Baja California has been verified (Peralta-García et al., 2014).

Other worldwide localities: African Clawed Frogs are established in the United Kingdom but might be extirpated on Ascension Island (Arnold, 1995; Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; Measey, 1998a, 2001; Measey and Tinsley, 1998; Arnold and Ovenden, 2002; Kraus, 2009; Measey et al., 2012; Tinsley et al., 2011a, 2011b, 2012), and in Chile they are an established, highly invasive species (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; Jaksic, 1998; Lobos and Garín, 2002; Lobos and Measey, 2002; Lobos and Jaksic, 2005; Kraus, 2009; Measey et al., 2012). The status of X. laevis in Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Israel remains unknown (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996; Kraus, 2009; Measey et al., 2012; Rabitsch et al., 2013). African Clawed Frogs were eradicated from Spain (Measey et al., 2012). This pipid is established in France, Italy (Sicily), Portugal, and Japan (Fouquet, 2001; Lillo et al., 2005, 2011, 2013; Eggert and Fouquet, 2006; Fouquet and Measey, 2006; Faraone et al., 2008; Kraus, 2009; Rebelo et al., 2010; Measey et al., 2012).

Impact of Introduction: In many parts of its indigenous and nonindigenous range, X. laevis is regarded a pest (Rundquist, 1978; Channing, 2001). In South Africa, mass migrations lead to large numbers of clawed frogs invading houses and clogging up irrigation pipes (Tinsley et al., 1996). Migrating individuals in Africa also invade fish farms, consuming both fish and fish food, and are difficult to keep out (McCoid and Fritts, 1993; Channing, 2001).

In Riverside and San Diego Counties, California, X. laevis consumes native invertebrates, the eggs, tadpoles, and adults of native frogs, and the nonindigenous Western Mosquito Fish, Gambusia affinis (McCoid and Fritts, 1980; Stebbins, 2003). Nonindigenous X. laevis inhabiting the Santa Clara River estuary in Ventura County, California, includes the endangered Tidewater Goby, Eucyclogobius newberryi, in its diet (Lafferty and Page, 1997; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012; Dodd, 2013). Additional native Californian vertebrates consumed by X. laevis include Western Toads (Anaxyrus boreas), Arroyo Chubs (Gila orcutti), and locally endangered Three-spined Stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) (Stebbins, 2003; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012; Dodd, 2013). In Sicily, Italy, X. laevis has caused population and, perhaps, recruitment declines in many indigenous amphibian species (Lillo et al., 2011). It in turn is prey for indigenous Two-striped Garter Snakes, Thamnophis hammondii, fish, and the nonindigenous Bullfrog, Lithobates catesbeianus (Lafferty and Page, 1997). African Clawed Frogs also carry a rather diverse parasite load (Prudhoe and Bray, 1982; Tinsley, 1996; Lafferty and Page, 1997; Crayon, 2005; Tinsley et al., 2011a, 2011b, 2012; Dodd, 2013) and individuals from nonindigenous populations in California harbor a variety of parasites (Kuperman et al., 2004); however, there are no studies to verify if these parasites pose a direct threat to nonindigenous ecosystems. Moreover, they are asymptomatic carriers of the virulent amphibian fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (chytrid) and may be responsible for infecting indigenous amphibians in California and other localities worldwide (Kraus, 2009; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012; Vredenburg et al., 2013). In Chile, nonindigenous X. laevis are consumed by several species of native birds (Lobos and Jaksic, 2005). Overall, the impact of these hardy, adaptable, invasive frogs requires further study throughout its nonindigenous range.

Remarks: The taxonomy and nomenclature of X. laevis have been summarized or reviewed by Frost (1985, 2000, 2015), Kobel et al. (1996), Collins and Taggart (2002, 2009), Measey and Channing (2003), Frost et al. (2006), Evans et al. (2008), and Kraus (2008, 2012), and Fouquette and Dubois (2014). Numerous authors have summarized the biology and natural history of X. laevis (von Filek, 1973; Deuchar, 1975; Thompson and Franks, 1978, 1979; McCoid and Fritts, 1980, 1989, 1993; Wever, 1985; Nieuwkoop and Faber, 1994; Passmore and Carruthers, 1995; Tinsley et al., 1996; Lafferty and Page, 1997; Bernardini et al., 1999; Sire et al., 2000; Channing, 2001; Stebbins, 2003; Brennan and Holycross, 2006; Lemm, 2006; Elliott et al., 2009; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012; Tinsley et al., 2012; Dodd, 2013; and various contributions compiled by Tinsley and Kobel, 1996).

Stebbins (1985) and Frost (2000) discussed the possibility that nonindigenous X. laevis may represent a composite of different undescribed species; thus, the actual identity of frogs in the United States may be unclear. However, Kobel et al. (1996), in listing the six tentatively identified subspecies of X. laevis in Africa, suggest that several could be full species. Since all reports of nonindigenous and aquarium-raised X. laevis are typically of the nominate subspecies, X. laevis laevis from the Cape region of South Africa (Tinsley and McCoid, 1996), the question of species identity is rendered moot if X. l. laevis is treated with full specific status, and the origin of captive populations continues to be the Cape of South Africa (Measey and Channing, 2003).

The possession or importation of X. laevis is prohibited or regulated in the states of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Louisiana, Kentucky, Virginia, North Carlolina, and New Jersey (Levell, 1997; Stebbins, 2003; Lemm, 2006; Elliott et al., 2009; Stebbins and McGinnis, 2012). Black market sales of this species in the aquarium hobbyist trade continued at least into the 1980s (Stebbins, 1985). Lobos and Jaksic (2005) have proposed that the pet trade of X. laevis be banned in Chile.

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Other Resources:
Xenopus laevis (African clawed frog) (Global Invasive Species Program)

Exotic and Nongame Species Requiring a Permit (New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife)

Author: Somma, L.A.

Revision Date: 7/21/2015

Citation Information:
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