Tuesday, December 27, 2011

ABC Wednesday: X is for Xenopus

Xenopus means strange foot. These guys are Xenopus laevis (smoooth strange foot), African clawed frogs. They are often mixed up with African drwaf frogs when sold as pets, Xenopus grow much, much bigger, so take care when planning to get either species. The easiest way to tell the difference are the feet: dwarf frogs have four webbed feet, Xenopus have only webbed hind feet. If it's an albino, it's a Xenopus. Also, these frogs can live up to 25 years, so it shouldn't be a spur of the moment decision (well, not pet should be that).

photo via Wikipedia, note the claws on the hind feet

They are completely aquatic, very good swimmers and will eat almost anything. Since they have no tongue, they use their hands to shove foot into their mouths or just suck it in. They also have no ears, but can sense vibrations with lateral lines. Those also pick up the vibrations made by the frogs when they call during mating season.

Xenopus frogs shed their skin once every year and will eat the discarded skin, which looks very strange. The species has been a popular research subject for many years and at times, they were used for pregnancy tests, the hormones in the urine of pregnant women will cause Xenopus females to produce eggs themselves.

More Xs at ABC Wednesday

Sources and further reading:
Krallenfrosch.de (German)

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