Are Albino Frogs Safe as Pets?
Albinism affects many animals, including fish, birds, reptiles, humans, and amphibians such as albino frogs. It is a congenital disorder where the animal has an absence of melanin pigment – the compound that gives skin color. Albinism is also known as achromia, achromasia, or achromatosis, and animals with the disorder are known as albinos.
On now to albino frogs…
An albino frog is just a regular frog with a genetic defect that means it does not have skin pigmentation. There is nothing else that is different about the frog. But these glistening white amphibians capture the hearts of a lot of pet owners looking for something a bit different from the crowd.
So if you are familiar with regular frog behavior and how to care for them, then your albino won’t be any problem.
Just has human albinos have the same mortality as other humans, the albino frog has no special health issues. It is fair to say that in the wild these frogs don’t live as long as their colorful counterparts, but that is because they are more vulnerable to attack because they lack camouflage.
Human albinos are more susceptible to skin cancer, but myths that they are infertile and become blind in adulthood are simply nonsense, and don’t let anyone tell you that your albino frog isn’t perfectly healthy.
So is there no difference other than the white skin of albino frogs?
Sometimes an albino will look more pinkish than white because of the blood vessels running through the skin, and in addition to this the eyes may seem red because the retina’s blood vessels show through the iris. Your pet’s eyes will make quite sensitive to light, but other than that you don’t need to worry.
The African clawed albino frog as a pet
Pet owners looking for an albino frog often select the African clawed frog. This is an aquatic frog that has only been known to venture onto land in times of drought, and only then to get to a fresh water source.
One of the reasons it is so popular is that it is so easy to look after – it can share an aquarium with other frogs and fish that are of a larger size (it grows to up to 12cm), and does well on a diet of bloodworms, shrimp and the occasional guppy. Do remember though that this predator will eat anything smaller that it!
The African clawed frog is also known as Xenopus laevis, or platanna. If comes from Southern Africa, and gets its name from its clawed hind legs. It is thought that these claws developed to stir up mud on pond and river beds to hide them from predators.
You will find that your African clawed albino frog shares the same features as its normally pigmented counterpart: it has eyes with circular pupils sat on top of its head and pointed upwards, a flat and incredibly slippery body, no tongue or movable eyelids, no webbing on the fingers, fully webbed toes, and of course distinctive black claws.
The African clawed albino frog also has the same characteristics as its pigmented counterpart: its front limbs are used in feeding to supplement the lack of a tongue, calls are made from underwater due to a lack of a vocal sac, mating occurs by the male grabbing the female at the waist and using special black pads that appear on the males fingers during mating season to hold on during mating.
Albinos are pretty common within all breeds of frog, but the ease of keeping and African clawed frog makes it the number one choice for a pet albino frog. They don’t even require live food, which is a rarity in an amphibian pet.
Sexing your African clawed frog
Some distinctions to help you tell a male and female apart (whether albino frogs or not):
- Females are larger than the males, and broader
- Males front arms have dark stripes running underneath them
- Females have a tail-like stub which they use to lay eggs
- The male’s mating call is a whirring noise, whereas the female mating calls are a series of clicks, with the pace of the clicks communicating her readiness to mate
Click for more on all kinds of amphibians.