The African bullfrog is one of the largest frogs in Africa. It has a chubby round body and big broad head, with a large mouth. Its front feet have short blunt toes, with no webbing, while its hind legs are strong and are used to dig holes where it hides itself.
Its hind feet are webbed. Its skin is bumpy and olive green in color, with a cream or yellow-colored belly and throat. Juveniles have several yellowish stripes on their backs, which fade as they mature. This coloring allowed the bullfrog to blend into its surroundings and lie in wait for its prey undetected.
The African bullfrog will eat almost anything that it can fit into its mouth. This includes insects, small fish, mice, and even small birds. It may even eat lizards or other frogs, if it can overpower them. It has several large tooth-like projections in its lower jaw that helps it to grip and then chew its prey.
The African bullfrog is found near waterways, rivers, streams, and other wet spots in open country or the arid and semiarid areas throughout Central, Eastern, and South Africa.
The African bullfrog’s biggest advantage against its predators is its size. It also uses its teeth to fight off would-be enemies, and will swell its body up to make itself look even bigger and more intimidating. Its aggressive behavior and a tendency to defend itself by attacking intruders with mouth agape can often protect it from predators such as larger wading birds, pelicans, Nile monitor lizards, driver ants, mammals, and even humans (who consider this bullfrog a delicacy to eat).
During the dry season the African bullfrog hibernates underground for up to 10 months or even as long as 2 years. It is protected by the mud it has burrowed into, as well as a mucous cocoon which becomes hard once it dries. When the rainy season returns, the rains seep into the ground and soften the cocoon, allowing the bullfrog within to free itself and emerge from the mud.
It will then spend much of its time either sitting quietly or burrowed partly into the mud near watering holes or other wet areas, hidden from its prey by the mud. It waits until something appealing wanders close enough to its hiding place, and then lunges out to grab its victim. When not hunting the bullfrog will just spend its time sitting in puddles or in shallower water.
Birth & Offspring
Breeding season for the African bullfrog begins when the rainy season arrives and the bullfrog comes out of hibernation. The eggs are laid in the temporary shallow pools of water left behind by the seasonal rains. On the second day after the eggs are laid, they hatch and the tadpoles emerge. At this stage they still remain in the water.
The tadpoles that do survive and are not eaten by predators grow quickly, and after several weeks they loose their tadpole features and grow into small striped frogs. At this stage they are able to move onto land and spend less time in the water. The young bullfrogs become mature at 1 ½ to 3 years. However it may take 20 years or more for the African bullfrog to reach its full size.
The African bullfrog has a good sense of smell and sight. However its hearing is one of its most important senses, for bullfrogs use their calls (voices) to locate one another, especially during mating season. The loud, roar-like bellowing call of the African bullfrog is especially notable, and seems to suit its large size.
Lydia King is a huge animal lover and has always been fascinated with learning about the animal kingdom. She enjoys writing about anything animal related from scientific information about rare species to animal references in pop culture.