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Disease and Illness                   

These frogs are relatively hardy but can be prone to some afflictions.  Red leg disease, bloat and fungus and bacterial skin infections often affect these frogs - luckily if caught early they can be treated successfully. 

Red Leg Disease

Caused by Aeromonas hydrophila, Proteus hydrophilus and Pseudomonas hydrophilus. These types of bacteria are often present in the aquarium but do not affect the frog. The bacteria is opportunistic and attacks frogs which have a weak immune system or have been stressed. Ulcers and haemorrhages can often be seen in the legs and belly of the frogs.  The frogs suffering with red leg often die suddenly without warning. Symptoms of the disease include excess mucus production, skin discolouration and reddening of the belly and legs of the frog. Treaments that are effective include administering Tetracycline orally or using Baytril. Adding salt to the water while treatment is going on may increase survival rates of the frogs.

Bloating Disease

Common affliction of African Clawed and African Dwarf clawed frogs. Bloating Disease as it is often referred to is when large amounts of fluids collect in the abdomen, legs and chin of the frog giving the frog the appearance of a blown up latex rubber glove.  The frog can live with this condition for a short period of time but soon the frog will stop eating and become buoyant due to the pressure of the fluids on the internal organs.  From my research I have discovered that it appears to be caused by the infection of a certain type of bacteria (still looking into exactly which type) which seems to affect the lymph ducts which drain the bodies fluids properly, the bacteria seems to block or stop function and ability of these ducts which leads to the accumulation of large amounts of fluid.  This fluid can naturally be broken down by the frogs body if proper conditions or medication is administered. Aquarium salt and Anti-Internal Bacterial tropical  fish remedy has appeared to be successful.  Some accounts have shown that a pure diet of bloodworm can often lead to BD, especially in ADFs. This is perhaps because the bacteria which causes BD may be present in the digestive tract or epidermis of the bloodworms.

Fungal & Bacterial Skin Infections

Fungal and Bacterial skin infections are very common in these frogs and other amphibians too. Abscesses can be seen in the organs but usually there are ulcers and reddening on the skin, often with fur like white strands emanating from it (for Fungus). The fungus can be treated successfully with fungicides such as Tetra Fungistop but internal infections may require treatment with Sulfadiazine. Fungal infection may recur but with proper treatment and hygiene they can be easily controlled.  For Bacterial infections aquarium salt and anti-bacterial tropical fish treatment can be used successfully.


Can be caused by organsims such as Mycobacterium xenopi, Mycobacterium marinum or Mycobacterium ranae. The organisms often gain entry to the frogs body by entering skin wounds or soars, especially open or bleeding ones. Tuberculosis usually only affects frogs which are already sick from one thing or another, this is because their immune system is not up to full strength to fight off the disease. Ulcers can occur on the surface of the skin. Tuberculosis also affects the major organs of the body therefore making the frog very ill. This disease is not said to be very contagious and is prevented by good hygiene.


Has symptoms similar to those of bacteria infections although necrosis of the liver, kidneys, spleen and heart is also present. Tetracycline may be effective in treating this disease.

Epidermal chytridiomycosis

Afflicting skin.  Symptoms include sloughing and peeling of the skin and extreme buyancy.  Malachite gren baths may help. 

Gas Bubble Disease

Caused when the water in the tank is over saturated with air. Bubbles can be seen in the foot webbing of effected frogs. Death is not usually caused by this but by the infection this causes. This is why it is a good idea not to have pumps on for 24 hours a day.  

Rectal or Cloacal Prolapse

Where the linings of the digestive or reproductive tracts extends out of the body, the frogs usually recover spontaneously. If not, an amphibian vet should be sought.


Such as lungworms (Rhabdias) may cause breathing problems and pneumonia infections because adult worms live in the frogs lungs, hence the name lungworms (duh!). Egggs and larvae can be present in the gut. Lungworms can be treated with oral or subcutaneous treatments of 0.2 to 0.4 mg/kg of Ivermectin.


Skin protozoa such as Trichnodina, Costia, Oodinium and Vorticella often infect ACFs. Symptoms can be skin irritation, cloudiness and excess muus production or skin shedding. Salt therapy may be effective.

Heart Attack

This may cause death, although if it doesn't symptoms will include - Lethargic behaviour, Not eating, Paler than usual skin, strange swimming stroke. Heart Attacks can be caused if the water is too warm, their heart rate is affected by their external surroundings. If it is cold then their heart rate will be slow, if it is hot their heart rate will be fast, if it's too hot the heart may not be able to take the strain.


This is when blood flow to the brain is decreased due to a blocked vessel or burst small vessel. Symptoms of this may include Lethargic behaviour, not eating, unable to move back or front legs/arms, continuous trembling of a limb or unable to regulate balance in the water. Strokes can caused by stress caused by handling or movement of the tank, they can also be caused by feeding too much fatty food, and temperature fluctuations can also be a cause.

Spinal Injuries

Spinal Injuries are rare, but they can occur. If the frogs is startled it may swim quickly smack bang straight into the side of the tank with it's head, this can damage the spine or if the frog has managed to get itself stuck in a tight spot and it has to bend a lot to escape an injury may occur. Rough handling can also be a cause. Symptoms include back or front legs not working well, squirming when at rest or unusually slow swimming.

Broken Bones

Broken bones can also occur if the frog is attacked, escapes or is handled roughly. Fingers and toes that are broken do not pose a problem to the frog but broken arms or legs may do. I suggest you visit a vet if this happens.

Metabolic Bone Disease

Clawed frogs can also suffer from something called Metabolic Bone disease, this is where bones grow weak or deformed through lack of correct vitamins and calcium. If a correct diet is fed then this will not be a problem.

Bowel Obstruction

Bowel Obstructions are quit common, many owners get worried that they've seen their frogs eat a piece of gravel. It usually passes through. On some occasions, though, it doesn't. It cause a bowel obstruction. Symptoms of this include Lethargic Behaviour, not eating and a large lump visible in the bowel. You should watch carefully to see if it passes, if it doesn't it may cause death. You should seek the advice of a vet if feeding chicken liver does not work. 


Tumours occasionally occur in African clawed frogs, they appear as a small or large reddened or pale lump underneath the skin. They can be fatal but many frogs will have it for their whole lives with no adverse affects.