These “flat frogs” live in natural water-bodies, but you might see them in your garden pond. They also don’t mind living in the local sewerage works. At the end of the rainy season, they bury themselves under wet mud, where they hibernate until the next rains.

Also known as African clawed frogs, these “flat frogs” have powerful back legs and sharp claws on three of their toes. They hold prey in their mouths and tear it with an overhead “kick” by their back legs.

Common platannas feed in the water on any living creatures they can overpower. Their prey includes frogs and tadpoles (including their own kind), insects and other invertebrates (mosquito larvae are consumed by young frogs), small fish, young birds and mice that fall into the water. They even feed on carrion in the water.

In the 1930s, it was discovered that a female common platanna would spawn if injected with the urine of a pregnant woman (the hormone chorionic gonadotropin being the active ingredient). In the 1940s and ‘50s, this was the only available pregnancy test and many hospitals around the world kept and bred platannas so that they could perform such tests.


Species Facts

  • Hibernates in the mud until spring rains fall
  • Has claws on three toes
  • Size: 60 to 100mm