Invasive African clawed frogs, initially brought into the US to be used in pregnancy tests, spreading in Washington

Representational imageRichard Sagredo

African clawed frogs were first identified in Washington in 2015 and have since been confirmed in many cities in Western Washington. Scientists have caught about 300 frogs since the trapping began in January and they believe it’s just a fraction of the population.

The frogs were initially brought into the United States to be used in pregnancy tests as until the 1960s, the only reliable pregnancy test was to inject a woman’s urine into a female African clawed frog. If the woman was pregnant, the frog would ovulate within 12 hours.

Washington state wildlife scientist Max Lambert said:

These are considered one of the worst invasive species on earth. The frogs reproduce so rapidly, that they can double their population, and range, within 10 years.They’ll eat a lot of native insects, which are good forage food for our fishes and our amphibians, they will eat tadpoles of our native salamanders, and they’ll eat fish. We looked at some of their stomach contents - and they’re full of baby fish.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is reminding the public to be on the lookout for an African clawed frog that is gaining a foothold in the State. The DNR asks residents to report the sighting in a previously unreported waterbody by calling 1-888-WDFW-AIS (1-888-933-9247).

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