African Dwarf frog

If you have never thought of having an African dwarf frog as a pet, then this is your calling. These little guys are one of the best animals to have as pets because they are cute, fascinating to watch, and very easy to take care of. They are also called dwarf-clawed frogs because of their webbed feet. They are fully aquatic amphibians who love to prey on smaller fish and float leisurely with their limbs stretched out. They are generally very good pets because of their social and easy nature. Before buying any animal to keep as a pet, it is essential to gather all necessary information about it. These include common habitats, nature, eating habits, survival techniques, etc. The same goes for African dwarf frogs as well. If you wish to have them as pets, then keep reading this article till the very end to learn all about them!

What are African Dwarf Frogs?

The African Dwarf Frogs are fully aquatic amphibians belonging to the Pipidae family. The members of the Pipidae family do not have tongues or teeth. They grab food and push it inside their throats with their webbed feet. This species does not have gills. Hence, they need to the surface of the water to breathe through their lungs from time to time. Although they have lungs, they can still die of dehydration if they are left out of the water for more than 15 to 20 minutes. The African dwarf frogs prefer staying at the bottom of lakes and streams so that they can use the muddy surfaces as camouflage to hide from their predators. These frogs usually prey on smaller fishes and sometimes other smaller frogs. These African frogs are tiny, generally growing to a maximum of three inches in length.

More than this is considered unusual for this species. These frogs can live up to twenty years, but the average lifespan of an African dwarf frog is five years.

What do African Dwarf Frogs Look Like?

As the name suggests, African dwarf frogs are very small, mainly two inches long. These frogs are usually olive, green, or brown colored with black or dark brown spots. There are not many African dwarf frog morphs, however, they do have certain spots and markings on their skin to provide them camouflage. This specific morph helps them in hiding from their predators in the wild. Their abdominal area is usually lighter in color than other body parts. These frogs weigh just a few grams and have small, flat bodies. They have rough skin, pointed snouts, webbed feet, claws, and eyes situated on the side of the head.

Where do African Dwarf Frogs Come From?

African dwarf frogs are commonly found in the waters of Central Africa, Nigeria, Congo River, Cameroon, and Gabon. They can be easily found in their most common habitat, i.e., shallow water bodies like lakes, ponds, and streams. They also like staying amongst the submerged foliage in forests during the monsoon season. As these frogs are completely aquatic, they spend their whole lives inside the water. However, they are not the strongest swimmers, which is why they prefer living in still and shallow water bodies.

Are African Dwarf Frogs Good with Other Animals?

African dwarf frogs are pretty friendly towards other animals and fishes, however, they sometimes tend to eat tiny fish. The African dwarf frogs are very social. Hence, it is important to pair them with companion fish, other frogs, or other small amphibians. They prefer to stay in community aquariums and do not like to be alone.

Important: It is crucial to keep in mind that you should never keep these frogs with aggressive fishes, as they can get easily injured by them.

Do African Dwarf Frogs Make Good Pets?

These frogs make good pets because of their easy-going and social nature. They are very friendly and usually remain asleep for long hours. When they are awake, they show activity and do not like to sit in one place. This is the perfect time for you to watch them. They also love floating, and you will see them on the top surface a lot, with their limbs stretched out. We assure you that African dwarf frogs are great pets. If you are considering getting one as a pet for your aquarium, here is a guide on how to safely keep them:

  • Keep them with two or more companion fishes or frogs.
  • Maintain a low water pressure, as these frogs are not good at swimming.
  • Since they do not have gills, ensure that the aquarium is not too deep. The most suitable depth is 24 inches or less.
  • They like to stay low, hiding behind rocks and plants. Hence do not keep the aquarium too open or empty. Otherwise, they could get stressed and exhibit abnormal behavior.
  • These frogs get dehydrated if kept out of the water for too long. The minimum time limit is 10 to 15 minutes.
  • These frogs are tiny and fragile, so make sure to handle them with care.

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What do African Dwarf Frogs Eat?

African dwarf frogs are omnivorous, so they eat both plant and animal matter. In the wild, their diet consists of small aquatic insects, such as water beetles, mosquito larvae, and water bugs, as well as tadpoles, small fish, and shrimp. In captivity, they can be fed a variety of commercially prepared foods that are designed for aquarium fish or reptiles such as sinking pellet food (amazon link – opens in a new tab). They will also eat freeze-dried bloodworms, tubifex worms, boiled spinach or lettuce leaves, soft-bodied insects like fruit flies or houseflies, and small crayfish.

Is Aquarium Salt Safe for African Dwarf Frogs?

Usually, frogs are sensitive to salts, just like some scaleless or newborn fishes. Exposure to excessive amounts of salt can be very harmful. The reason is that salt dehydrates them and also disturbs their bodily functions. For the African dwarf frogs, only add salt to the aquarium in moderate amounts. We do NOT recommend using any aquarium salts at all, particularly as too much can make them ill or cause them to die.

How Often do African Dwarf Frogs Come Up for Air?

African Dwarf frogs do not have gills. These frogs breathe through their lungs. They will come up to breathe air from the surface maybe every 10 minutes and quickly return to the bottom. If your frog keeps coming out of the water every 10 to 15 seconds, this is not considered normal. It is recommended to see a vet or a pet consultant in this case.

How to tell Male from Female African Dwarf Frogs?

It is fairly easy to tell a male African dwarf frog from a female one. Male frogs are much slimmer and have small, white bulging glands on their front legs. These are glands that play a key role in reproduction. Male frogs also tend to make a loud humming or buzzing when they start mating. Female African dwarf frogs are much larger than males. When fully mature, they can be more than double in size of the male frogs. Their bodies are much curvier, resembling the shape of pears. The female frogs also tend to have much more prominent genitals. This size and shape allow them to carry a large number of eggs in their abdomen during the mating seasons.


So, do African dwarf frogs make good pets? The answer is a resounding yes! They are low-maintenance and entertaining creatures that can be enjoyed by both children and adults. If you’re thinking of adding an African dwarf frog to your family, we hope this article has helped you make the decision. Any questions, let us know. Thanks for reading!

African Dwarf Frog Fact Profile Infographic

Reptile Wrestler Tips!

“Keep the tank at a moderate temperature – 68 to 75°f is ideal!”

“Make sure your frogs can reach the surface at all times, they will need to come up for air!”

“African dwarf frogs need a lot of hiding places in their tank, so provide plenty of rocks, plants, and driftwood!”

“They love to eat live food, so feed them a variety of insects like crickets, mealworms, and waxworms!”


What do African dwarf frogs need in their tank?

African dwarf frogs need a tank that is at least 10 gallons in size. This gives them enough room to swim and explore, while still feeling secure. The tank should also have plenty of hiding spots, as African dwarf frogs like to feel hidden away at times. They are also social creatures, so it’s best to keep at least two frogs together but they will thrive in groups of 3 or 4.

Can you handle African dwarf frogs?

Generally speaking, handling an African Dwarf Frog is not recommended although if you do decide to handle your African dwarf frog, make sure that you wash your hands thoroughly before and after, as these amphibians are known to carry salmonella, plus they are very fragile and sensitive to chemicals and pollutants.

Do African dwarf frogs need land?

No, African dwarf frogs do not need land. They are fully aquatic that live their entire lives in water.

About Me

Hi, I’m Stuart and I’ve had reptiles for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I studied for a master’s in Herpetology. Over the years I have worked at several zoos before opening my very own reptile sanctuary. In my spare time, I run this website – which is a resource for people who want to learn more about their little beasties.

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