These medium sized frogs with huge back legs make an interesting pet that is easy to care for and good for beginners.
There are many variations in recommendations for tank size for these critters, but
being a fairly large frog they will need a good sized tank. Approximately 10 gallons
per frog is a good rule of thumb. The frogs are strictly aquatic and do not need
a land area. However, the water should only be about 12 inches (30 cm) deep so that
the frog will be able to easily reach the surface, as they must breathe oxygen at
the surface (a minimum of 6 inches is recommended to allow the frog room to maneuver).
A secure lid is also a must - these frogs are adept at propelling themselves out
of the water and escaping, given the chance.
A gravel substrate can be used, but small gravel should be avoided to prevent accidental
ingestion of the substrate. Rocks, wood, and flower pots can be used to decorate
the tank and provide hiding places (frogs with no place to hide may be stressed).
Artificial plants can also be used, but the frogs will dig up and generally destroy
The water in the tank must be dechlorinated - using a product from the pet store
designed to remove chorine (and chloramine, if necessary). It is also said that
these frogs are very sensitive to toxic effects of metal ions in the water, so it
is important to ensure that their water does not come in contact with metal (e.g.
on the tank cover).
The tank can be kept at room temperature - 68-75 F (20-24 C). No special lighting
is required (indirect lighting is fine and may be preferred). A 12 hour light:12
hour dark light cycle can be used.
The issue of filtration is somewhat controversial. The frogs have a sensory system
(lateral line) that allows them to sense vibrations in the water, so some experts
believe that using filters provides constant stressful stimuli to the frog (compared
to a human constantly being exposed to the noise from a jackhammer). However, gentle
filtration is used by some owners with success, and this will keep the water a lot
cleaner. These frogs live in stagnant water in the wild, but that is not the same
as dirty water in an aquarium. If no filtration is used, the water should be nearly
fully changed every week, if not more often.
These frogs will take many kinds of foods, live or not. Many owners are feeding
floating reptile sticks with success. While these are relatively well balanced,
feeding a variety of food is still a good idea. Items such as bloodworms, waxworms,
earthworms, feeder fish such as guppies, brine shrimp, and dog and cat food can
all be fed. In addition, a commercial food for clawed frogs can be purchased via
mail order from companies such as
Xenopus Express (these frogs are used fairly extensively in research so are
available along with supplies quite readily). As long as a balanced food is used
as the basis for the diet, supplementation with vitamins and minerals is not necessary.
Feed the amount they will clear from the water in 10-15 minutes, daily. Some
sources say fully grown frogs only need to feed 3-4 times a week. In general over
feeding is more of a problem than under feeding, so you can feed daily and keep
an eye on the body shape of your frog--if it seems to be getting overweight, then
you can cut back a bit.
Clawed frogs often become quite tame over time, taking food directly from the
fingers of their owners. They do sometimes accidentally nibble on the fingers, but
lack teeth so this is not a big problem. These frogs are also lack tongues, and
feed by stuffing food into their mouths with their front legs. They can be quite
messy as a result!
Note: These frogs are in the same family but different genus than the
dwarf African frog, Hymenochirus boettgeri which has become very popular
in recent years. However, the care of dwarf frogs is similar (on a smaller scale).
Frogs as Pets