The Awesome African Bullfrog

When one thinks of African giants, one usually conjures up images of charismatic megafauna such as elephants or rhinos. A frog is probably among the last creatures one would think to fit this description, especially a frog with a moniker like “pixie.” However, there is more to this frog than just a misleading name. A titan among anurans, the African bullfrog deserves a place of honor amongst the Dark Continent’s other behemoths.

Why are they called pixie frogs?

The name “pixie frog” has nothing whatsoever to do with the animal’s size. Indeed, the African bullfrog is amongst the largest frogs in the world, growing up to nine inches in length and weighing three pounds or more. It is derived from the genus name, Pyxicephalus, which means “box-head” in Latin.

Where do African bullfrogs live?

African bullfrogs inhabit a wide swathe of southeastern Africa. Like all frogs, they require water to survive and are often found around lakes, marshes, and ponds. They can also be found in manmade canals, ditches, and farmland. They can even be found in dry, arid savannah. During the dry season, the estivate underground and can remain in this state for years at a time if necessary.

What do African bullfrogs eat?

Frogs are voracious carnivores and the African bullfrog is no exception. Thanks to its large size, it is capable of taking a wide range of prey items. In addition to insects, they will readily consume small reptiles, rodentsbirds, fish, pretty much anything they can stuff into their gaping maws. They are also highly cannibalistic. The name pixie frog conjures up a cute, friendly animal, but these are on of the few frog species with teeth befitting their predatory nature and will not hesitate to bite when provoked.

How to African bullfrogs reproduce?

African bullfrogs breed during the rainy season. Males produce deep calls to attract potential mates. They gather in small ponds in large groups called leks with the biggest, most dominant frogs positioned in the center. Competition can be intense, and it is not uncommon for males to come to blows. These fights can result in serious injury and even death. Females lay up to 4000 eggs at a time, which the males fertilizes in the water. Like frog species they are sexually dimorphic, but it is the male that is the larger whereas in both other species it is the female. Once the female has laid her eggs, the male watches over them. He will continue to look after them even once the tadpoles have hatched, aggressively driving off perceived threats and even helping to relocate them if their pool is in danger of drying out.

Are African bullfrogs endangered?

The African bullfrog is extremely common within its range. It is not endangered and is classified as least concern. Indeed, this species is quite popular as pet and it is from the pet trade that the name pixie from originates. Due to their size and thick skin, they are more handleable than most pet frogs and their generalist diet means most captives can be maintained on crickets, cockroaches, or even rats. With proper care, an African bullfrog can live 30 years or longer.