Skip to content

Signs Of African Dwarf Frog: Everything You Need To Know To Identify These Frogs

Signs Of African Dwarf Frog

African dwarf frogs, scientifically known as Hymenochirus, are fascinating and tiny amphibians that have gained popularity as aquatic pets. Their petite size and endearing appearance make them an excellent choice for hobbyists and beginners alike. But how do you identify them?

What are the signs of African dwarf frog? These frogs are small aquatic creatures, measuring 1-2.5 inches on average. They have webbed feet, smooth skin, and intriguing behaviors like burbling and social tendencies.

Read on to explore their physical attributes, behaviors, and habitat preferences right below.

Table Summarizing All The Signs Of African Dwarf Frogs

Here is a table showing all the attributes you need to know to differentiate them from other amphibians.

Size1-2.5 inches on average, with males 40% smaller
FeetFour webbed feet with strong hind limbs and tiny black claws
ColorTypically brown or olive green with dark spots
EyesSmall, lateral eyes with limited eyesight
SkinSmooth, soft, and permeable
HeadFlattened head, pointed snout, with no ears or teeth
Shy NaturePrefers solitude, hides among vegetation
BurblingFloating motionlessly beneath the water’s surface
Activity PatternsNocturnal
Social PreferenceThrives in groups and can coexist with tropical fish
MoltingSheds skin and may consume it
Feeding HabitsOmnivorous
VocalizationMales hum to attract females during mating
Aquatic LifestyleFully aquatic, briefly surfacing for air
Habitat PreferenceMarshes, slow rivers, shallow ponds
LifespanUp to 5 years in the wild, but up to 20 in captivity

Physical Signs Of African Dwarf Frogs

Physical Signs Of African Dwarf Frogs

These frogs have physical attributes that can help you differentiate them from other frogs. Here’s a delve into these attributes:

1. Size

African Dwarf Frogs, as their name suggests, are really small amphibians. On average, they measure 1-2.5 inches in length, with some reaching up to 3 inches. Notably, males are roughly 40% smaller than females.

2. Feet

A distinctive feature of these frogs is their four webbed feet, with strong and flattened hind limbs. Their hind legs also have tiny black claws to help them hold their prey. These specialized feet also allow them to navigate their aquatic environments with ease.

3. Color

In their natural habitat, African dwarf frogs typically sport earthy hues, primarily brown or olive green. Their skin color is also adorned with dark spots that serve as a form of camouflage. 

However, in captive breeding, enthusiasts have developed color variations, such as gold and albino, adding a vibrant touch to these frogs.

African Dwarf Frogs Color

4. Eyes

You can also distinguish them by their eyes. These aquatic amphibians have small, lateral eyes positioned on the sides of their heads. Their small eye size results in them having limited eyesight, making them somewhat clumsy in their movements.

5. Skin

The skin of African dwarf frogs is a remarkable adaptation for their aquatic lifestyle. It is not only smooth but also soft and permeable, allowing them to absorb oxygen through their skin. This feature plays a vital role in their respiration, as they surface periodically to replenish their air supply.

6. Head

Their flattened heads and pointed snouts set these Frogs apart from other frog species. Notably, these amphibians lack ears but rely on lateral lines similar to those found in fish to detect their surroundings. 

In addition, they do not have teeth or a tongue, which impacts their feeding habits. Here is a video to help you see these physical attributes.

Behavioral Signs of African Dwarf Frogs

The behavior of African dwarf frogs can also help you in distinguishing them. Such behavioral traits include the following.

1. Shy Nature

These aquatic frogs are renowned for their shy and reclusive nature. In aquarium settings, they often choose to dwell at the bottom of their tanks or seek refuge amid aquatic vegetation. If you attempt to handle them, they tend to dart away.

Behavioral Signs of African Dwarf Frogs

2. Burbling

An intriguing behavior exhibited by these frogs is their occasional burbling or floating motionlessly just beneath the water’s surface. While you might think this behavior seems unusual, it’s a natural occurrence.

However, if you spot them doing this above the water surface, it could be an indication of water contamination. The water could have particularly high ammonia levels, which they are attempting to avoid.

3. Activity Patterns

African Dwarf Frogs are predominantly nocturnal creatures. During the day, they often rest or sleep 8 to 12 hours. 

When night falls, they emerge from their resting places and become active, feeding and exploring. This nocturnal lifestyle is their natural rhythm, although you can adapt them to a diurnal lifestyle.

4. Social Preference

These frogs exhibit sociable tendencies and tend to thrive in group environments. 

They can coexist harmoniously with other aquatic species, including small tropical fish and water snails. Which means these companions are both too aggressive and small enough to be considered prey.

African Dwarf Frogs Social Preference

5. Molting

African Dwarf Frogs undergo molting, shedding their skin approximately every two weeks as they grow. What’s particularly intriguing is their tendency to consume their own shed skin. However, continuous shedding after reaching their full size may signal an underlying skin condition that requires attention.

6. Feeding Habits

Although omnivorous by nature, African Dwarf Frogs predominantly favor a carnivorous diet. Their menu often includes items like:

  • Bloodworms
  • Small fish
  • Blackworms
  • Earthworms

Due to their lack of teeth and a tongue, they rely on their strong, clawed feet to manipulate and ingest their food. When feeding these frogs, you should ensure that the food reaches the bottom of the tank, aiding their food location and consumption.

African Dwarf Frogs Feeding Habits

7. Vocalization

During mating season, you will hear the male frogs singing, especially at night. This singing usually sounds more like a buzz or humming sound. The males usually do this to attract their female counterparts as prospective of being mating partners.

Sometimes, it does not have to be mating season for the male frogs to embark on this activity. They could be doing it just because they are in the mood to do it.

Habitual Signs of African Dwarf Frogs

Habitual Signs of African Dwarf Frogs

Understanding the habitual signs and tendencies of African Dwarf Frogs can also help you distinguish them. Here are habitual signs to look out for.

1. Aquatic Lifestyle

African Dwarf Frogs are fully aquatic amphibians who spend their entire lives underwater. They possess fully developed lungs instead of gills and will occasionally surface to replenish their air supply.

When they require air, they will briefly surface, taking only a few seconds to replenish their oxygen supply before returning to their aquatic habitat. It’s worth noting that these frogs are highly susceptible to dehydration. If you leave them out of water for more than 20 minutes, they will dehydrate and die.

2. Habitat Preference

These frogs are indigenous to the equatorial regions of Africa, preferring habitats like marshes, slow-moving rivers, and shallow ponds. Thus, these habitats offer the ideal conditions for their somewhat limited swimming abilities.

When you keep them as pets, they thrive in tap water with temperatures ranging between 23°-25°C. Therefore, replicating their natural environment as closely as possible is crucial to their well-being and longevity in captivity.

African Dwarf Frogs Habitat Preference

3. Lifespan

African Dwarf Frogs typically have a natural lifespan of about five years in the wild. However, their longevity can be significantly extended in a well-maintained captive environment. With proper care, these frogs can live for up to 20 years.


Here are some related questions you might be asking about these African dwarf frogs.

Q1: What is the difference between African dwarf frogs and African clawed frogs?

African Dwarf Frogs are smaller, have all four of their feet webbed, and are peaceful aquatic creatures. On the other hand, African Clawed Frogs are larger, with only hind webbed feet, and are known for their aggressive behavior.

Q2: How can I tell whether I have a male or female African Dwarf Frog?

Males possess post-axillary subdermal glands positioned discreetly on the posterior aspect of each of their front limbs. These glands manifest externally as small, conspicuous white or off-white dots adorning their skin.

Q3: Is it easy to take care of African Dwarf Frogs?

Yes. Taking care of these frogs is rather easy as they are low maintenance. However, you should regularly monitor their water quality and provide a lid for their tank to prevent them from jumping out.


African dwarf frogs, with their small size, distinctive features, and intriguing behaviors, are captivating creatures that many people prefer to have as pets. Plus, these signs of African dwarf frog make it quite easy to distinguish them from other amphibians. 

By understanding and appreciating these signs, including physical, behavioral, and habitual, you can provide the best care for your African dwarf frogs. This will in turn ensure their well-being and allow them to thrive for as long as possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *