Xenopus was the second animal I had an idea for, and the first poem and picture I drew. Following my wondering about other animals I could research and see if they were a new favorite, I wondered if there were any animals that started with the letter X! Turns out most animals that start with x were named after some guy named Xantus, ex: Xantus’s leaf toed gecko, or are an “X-ray _insert animal here_”. However, there are in fact two animals that properly start with an X: a xenopus and a xeme. The xeme is an artic gull that was named specifically with the purpose of starting with an X. But when I saw the cute walleyed face of the xenopus I knew that one was the new favorite, and had to be included in the book.
Xenopus live in ponds most of the year. They rarely leave the water unless forced out. When the water dries up they bury themselves in the mud and wait. All twenty species live in the lower half of Africa. Xenopus have no teeth, tongues, vocal sacs, eyelids, or eardrums. This leads to their rather silly look. Because xenopus have no vocal sacks they can’t croak, so they make clicking noises instead. Their feet are webbed and on each foot there are only three claws. They are scavengers and use their claws to find and “chew” food. They are often used in research about how to cure birth defects or cancer due
to their easy to work with genetics.