Xenopus laevis 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Amphibia Anura Pipidae

Scientific Name: Xenopus laevis (Daudin, 1802)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English African Clawed Frog, African Clawed Toad, Clawed Frog, Clawed Toad, Common Clawed Frog, Common Clawed Toad, Common Platanna, Platanna, Smooth Clawed Frog, Upland Clawed Frog
Bufo laevis Daudin, 1802
Dactylethera boiei (Wagler, 1827)
Dactylethra bufonia (Merrem, 1820)
Dactylethra capensis Cuvier, 1830
Dactylethra delalandii Cuvier, 1849
Dactylethra laevis (Daudin, 1802)
Engystoma laevis (Daudin, 1802)
Leptopus boiei (Wagler, 1827)
Leptopus oxydactylus Mayer, 1835
Pipa africana Mayer, 1835
Pipa bufonia Merrem, 1820
Pipa laevis (Daudin, 1802)
Tremeropugus typicus Smith, 1831
Xenopus boiei Wagler, 1827
Xenopus laevis ssp. bunyoniensis Loveridge, 1932
Xenopus laevis ssp. sudanensis Perret, 1966
Taxonomic Source(s): Frost, D.R. 2016. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 6.0 (31 March 2016). New York, USA. Available at:
Taxonomic Notes: Channing and Howell (2006) and Pickersgill (2007) treated the East African X. l. victorianus as a species in its own right, and we follow that arrangement. However, this leaves the odd situation of X. laevis being a southern African species, but with an isolated subspecies, X. l. sudanensis, in north-central Africa (which probably also needs to be recognized as a full species).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2009
Date Assessed: 2008-12-14
Assessor(s): Tinsley, R., Minter, L., Measey, J., Howell, K., Veloso, A., Núñez, H. & Romano, A.
Reviewer(s): Cox, N. & Temple, H.J. (Global Amphibian Assessment)
Listed as Least Concern in view of its very wide distribution, its tolerance of a broad range of habitats, its presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining to qualify for listing in a more threatened category.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The range of this species is unclear following the removal from Xenopus victorianus from X. laevis. For the purposes of this assessment we have assumed that all animals from southern Angola, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique southwards (including in almost all of Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland) belong to X. laevis. In addition we treat all animals in Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo west of 28ºE as belonging to X. l. sudanensis. Records from Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo east of 28ºE refer to this X. victorianus. There is an isolated record from Gabon (M. Beier pers. comm. January 2006).

It is introduced in several places outside its native range, including the USA where it was first introduced in the 1930s and 1940s for laboratory use and later as an aquarium pet. It was introduced and established locally in California (San Diego, Orange, Riverside, Los Angeles, Ventura, and Imperial counties) and Arizona (Tucson area) (Stebbins 1985, Lafferty ad Page 1997). It has been recorded from, but it is not established in Colorado. It has also been introduced to Chile (introduced in the 1970s to central Chile, Valparaiso to Concepción Provinces), parts of the United Kingdom (extant in south Wales and presumed extirpated from the Isle of Wight [not mapped here], and a number of occasional records from other locations [not mapped], the Departments of Deux-Sèvres and Maine et Loire in France and Java (Indonesia) [not mapped here]. It is introduced also in the Lage stream, about 20 km W of Lisbon, Portugal (Rebelo et al. 2007) and there is a large invasive population in Sicily (Lillo et al. 2005, Faraone et al. 2008) [not mapped here]. It is presumed to occur in southwestern Sudan, but there do not appear to be confirmed records from this country (there is an uncertain record assigned to X. l. sudanensis from Jebel Marrah, Sudan (M. Beier pers. comm. January 2006) [not mapped here]). Records from Congo refer to X. petersii. Its range is also extending in parts of Africa, often by introduction because it is used for live bait, and it has spread extensively in South Africa. This species ranges from sea-level up to 3,000 m asl.
Countries occurrence:
Angola; Botswana; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Gabon; Lesotho; Malawi; Mozambique; Namibia; Nigeria; South Africa; South Sudan; Swaziland; Zambia; Zimbabwe
Chile; France; Indonesia; Italy (Sicilia); Mexico; Portugal; United Kingdom; United States
Additional data:
Upper elevation limit (metres):3000
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:It is an extremely abundant, and often increasing, species.
Current Population Trend:Increasing
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:It is a water-dependent species occurring in a very wide range of habitats, including heavily modified anthropogenic habitats. It lives in all sorts of waterbodies, including streams, but tends to avoid large rivers, and waterbodies with predatory fish. It reaches its highest densities in eutrophic water. It breeds in water; there are no records of it breeding in flowing water. It has very high reproductive potential. It is a highly opportunistic species, and colonizes newly recreated, apparently isolated, waterbodies with ease. It can migrate in large numbers when breeding ponds start to dry up, and the weather is wet.
Systems:Terrestrial; Freshwater

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The species is harvested and traded both for human consumption and research.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): It is very successful and adaptable, and is an invasive species in many areas. Recent studies show that it is not impacted by the herbicide atrazine. Chytridiomycosis was detected in museum specimens of this species dating back to 1938, and it is hypothesized that the international trade in this species might have introduced this fungal disease to other regions of the world. The disease does not appear to have any detrimental affect on populations of this species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It occurs in many protected areas.

Citation: Tinsley, R., Minter, L., Measey, J., Howell, K., Veloso, A., Núñez, H. & Romano, A. 2009. Xenopus laevis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2009: e.T58174A11730010. . Downloaded on 19 June 2018.
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