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Xenopus laevis African Clawed Frog

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Publication 11343

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Xenopus laevis, the African clawed frog is originally from southern Africa. It inhabits shallow ponds or lakes with warm, stagnant water. This amphibian is entirely aquatic with olive-brown to grayish-black dorsal coloration. The ventral side is typically a pale beige. They have strong hind limbs and forelimbs that end with claws. Their sensitive fingertips are used to locate prey, which they shove into their mouths with their front feet since they lack a tongue and teeth. African clawed frogs are used regularly in research laboratories. They were once used to detect pregnancy in women. When injected with female urine, they would produce eggs within 48 hours due to their ability to detect hCG, human chorionic gonadotropin. This frog was the first vertebrate successfully cloned and some were even taken into space to study the effect of zero-gravity on breeding cycles and development. Although extremely useful in laboratory studies, African clawed frogs pose a serious threat to native populations when released into the wild. Their voracious, predatory appetite wreaks havoc on native wildlife such as fish, other frogs and tadpoles.