top of page

The Summer of the Clawed Frog: Part I

Greetings, fellow aquatic adventurers!



If one has been keeping a close watch on fishkeeping and aquatic related social media, one cannot help but notice that there seems to be an explosion of amphibian-related content out there! This is exciting!


Quite recently, one of my videos about Sir Froggy, my African Clawed Frog friend, got 26.7 thousand views (for the visual learners out there: 26,700 views!), as well as 732 ‘likes’. This shows a growing interest in the Kingdom Amphibia, and it is up to those of us in the hobby and active on social media to make sure we are educating the public!


So stay tuned and read on for my summer of African Clawed Frog observation and study, and thanks for digitally dropping by!


Sir Froggy’s Physical Growth: Coloration and Patterning


When I first adopted Sir Froggy from my sister, he was an adorable little frog, albeit a frog inhibited. Sir Froggy lacked color, looked a little flat like a pancake (presumably from burrowing under the substrate to hibernate in his old tank), and would run from human contact. In his switch from the old small 5 gallon tank to the 20 gallon tall, he blossomed.


One of the first and most prominent changes, at least in his physical appearance, has been a distinct change in patterning and coloration. Sir Froggy’s physical appearance and camouflage patterning are as unique as a human fingerprint, and through my observations, I have been able to understand why. While it is known that camouflage is an adaptation to environmental stimuli, I have been able to document the evolution of Sir Froggy’s color changes, which ran parallel to the growth of the plants within his tank. There are also dark brown and red tones in his camouflage, which are a result of the hardscape feature in his tank.


The process by which Sir Froggy undergoes these changes in coloration and patterning is called molting, and this is a process by which he sheds his dead skin (much like humans do). However, unlike a human, Sir Froggy also observably produces a dye of sorts which he will consume along with his molt for nutrition.


The dye mentioned above is NOT THE SAME DYE used to color things like food. African Clawed Frogs produce a dye that is internal (made inside) and inherent to the frog’s biology. According to the AskNature Team at AskNature.Org, “Some frogs, such as the African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis), change colour to cope with sunlight and heat and also to improve their camouflage. They do this by activating cells in their skin that contain granules of melanin, the dark brown pigment. These colour-changing cells, called melanophores, are normally dark but can be triggered by a particular hormone released in the frog.” (The Biomimicry Institute, 2016- Full Text Here) In other words, the African Clawed Frog has the ability to change its own appearance on a cellular level based on things present in the environment, and the frog’s reaction to it.


Sir Froggy’s biology told him to change his colors to match his environment, and his cells listened! Science!


PLEASE DO NOT DYE YOUR AFRICAN CLAWED FROG, OR ANY CREATURE FOR THAT MATTER! It has come to my attention that African Clawed Frogs have been sold in some stores having been dyed with a synthetic dye to give them a more “colored” appearance. Please make sure that wherever you chose to adopt your aquatic friends from does not dye their frogs or fish! (Source Here: That Pet Place Blog)


Sir Froggy’s Physical Growth: Arms, Legs, and Body Development


Having a larger environment to swim around in has also caused Sir Froggy’s leg muscles to become defined, and his arms are strengthened; this has allowed Sir Froggy to have a larger range of motion in his arms and hands, and has allowed him to stand on two legs and eat like a perfect gentleman… or should I say…gentlefrog?




Sir Froggy’s body has slimmed down, and grown longer. He no longer looks like a pancake. Sometimes, from far away and in the right position, Sir Froggy looks very human. The manner in which Sir Froggy manipulates objects in his hands, such as when he is tending to his plants, is quite indicative of a thumb-like finger on his hands. While Sir Froggy has only 4 fingers and does not have what we would consider a thumb, he does use his bottom finger in the same way we would use our thumb.


Lastly, the three ‘black claws’ on Sir Froggy’s feet have become very defined, and have grown large enough to see detail. As far as the usage of these claws, I notice that he uses them to stand upright in the substrate when he is eating or observing his plants and/or the world outside his tank. Sir Froggy also uses his claws in the molting process, and to clean algae off of his plants.


Please stay tuned for Part II of this series where I discuss my observations on Sir Froggy’s behavior, and highlight just how much like us frogs are! Signing off for now, and thank you for reading,


David G., MSEd


Works Cited


https://www.facebook.com/AskNature. (2016, August 18). Pigments cells respond to hormones : African Clawed Frog - AskNature. AskNature. https://asknature.org/strategy/pigments-cells-respond-to-hormones/


‌Indiviglio, F. (2011, December 23). Amphibian Abuse - Neon Dyed Frogs Wildly Popular in Chinese Pet Stores. That Reptile Blog. http://blogs.thatpetplace.com/thatreptileblog/2011/12/23/amphibian-abuse-neon-dyed-frogs-wildly-popular-in-chinese-pet-stores/


31 views0 comments
bottom of page