Zaire Dwarf Clawed Frog

Hymenochirus boettgeri

The Congo or Zaire dwarf clawed frog ranges widely through the forested areas of central Africa, from southeastern Nigeria and Cameroon, south through Gabon to the Mayombe region of western Democratic Republic of Congo, and east through the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Congo dwarf clawed frog is entirely aquatic, though it needs to rise to the surface to breathe. The species is fairly small, weighs only a few ounces, and has short claws on the hind feet. Its life expectancy ranges from 5 to 15 years.

Did You Know?

The Congo dwarf clawed frog is entirely aquatic, though it needs to rise to the surface to breathe.

Sustainability

Does the harvest for wildlife trade or captive breeding of this species harm wild populations?

Little Cause for Concern

Populations of Congo dwarf clawed frogs appear to be thriving in the wild.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

When purchasing a Congo dwarf clawed frog, ask for proof that it is captive bred from domesticated animals. Only acquire a pet that is from a reputable breeder or dealer to ensure that you are not buying an illegally wild-caught and/or imported animal.

Invasion Threat

Does the release or escape of this species into the wild harm the environment and/or economy?

Some Cause for Concern

Congo dwarf clawed frogs were introduced to Florida in the first half of the 20th century. However, there is no evidence that the species has had detrimental effects on native species or ecosystems. Congo dwarf clawed frogs have been known to carry an infectious fungus that causes the disease Chytridiomycosis, which can kill native amphibian species if infection spreads.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

Before obtaining any non-traditional pet, check that it is legal to own one in your state of residence and check for permitting requirements. Only acquire a pet that is from a reputable breeder or dealer to ensure that you are not buying an illegally imported or wild-caught animal. Always keep your pet inside a safe and secure enclosure. Never release a pet into the wild.

Ease of Care

Does harvest, captive breeding, transport, or being kept as a pet harm individual animals?

Little Cause for Concern

Ease of care of many non-traditional pets depends on the individual owner’s years of experience and knowledge caring for a particular species. For the purposes of this website, we have geared information toward the benefit of the beginner.

Congo dwarf clawed frogs are fairly easy to maintain. They require a warm temperature gradient and good water quality. They require an adequate size tank (at least 10 gallon) and should be provided opportunities to hide in their enclosure.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

When purchasing a pet Congo dwarf clawed frog, be sure to research the animal’s specific care requirements. Talk to your veterinarian about the proper diet and housing for your pet.

Health Threat

Does this animal pose a health risk to native wildlife, humans, livestock and agriculture?

Significant Cause for Concern

Congo dwarf clawed frogs are known carriers of the highly infectious amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), which causes the disease Chytridiomycosis. Bd fungus is a significant threat to most frog species and has been linked to massive die-offs and recent extinctions of native frogs around the world.

Congo dwarf clawed frogs are also known carriers of infectious, parasitic worms called camallanid nematodes. These parasites do not appear to harm the host frogs, but they are a potential threat to animals that prey on the frogs. Frogs may also carry Salmonella, which if ingested can cause vomiting and diarrhea; these symptoms are usually mild in healthy adults but can be fatal to infants and young children, or anyone with a compromised immune system. It is important to wash hands before and after handling an animal.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

When purchasing a pet, ask for a list of any medical treatments the animal has received. The fungal disease chytridiomycosis may be harmful to the health of your frog and native frogs. To learn more about chytridiomycosis and the symptoms of disease, we recommend reviewing the information on Amphibian Ark.

EcoHealth Alliance works at the intersection of ecosystem, animal and human health through local conservation programs and develops global health solutions to emerging diseases.
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