Rana saharica is a large frog, with one female from Morocco reported to measure 104.5 mm SVL (Schleich et al. 1996).
The published description for this species from Schleich et al. (1996) actually reflects a mixture of Rana saharica and Rana perezi. Schleich et al. (1996) describes the morphology for R. saharica/ R. perezi as follows: The head is equally as wide as long, with an oval snout and horizontal pupils. The nostrils and upper eyelids are connected by a ridge, which continues behind the eyes, separating the flanks from the back. Males have two vocal sacs, which are protruded through slits just behind either side of the mouth. Hindfeet are webbed, and the digits often have small bulges at the termini. The skin is granular on the posterolateral venter (sides) and the posterior margins of the thighs. Males have thicker arms and nuptial pads on the innermost finger (Schleich et al. 1996).
The description of color and pattern for R. saharica /R. perezi almost certainly reflects a mixture of taxa (Schleich et al. 1996). Thus it is not clear to what extent the pattern and color elements reflect within-taxon variability. Coloration is reported to be green, brown, or mixed; a yellow or green vertebral line may be present or absent; spots may be present or absent, and if present may be random or symmetrical. However, spots (bars) on the limbs are always present (Schleich et al. 1996).
The taxonomic status of Rana saharica and the closely related Rana perezi has been under debate. Mitochondrial data show that Rana saharica and Rana perezi are closely related but genetically distinct, with R. saharica occurring in NW Africa (Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria) and R. perezi on the Iberian peninsula (Harris et al., 2003). Within Rana saharica, both allozyme and mitochondrial data indicate that there are two distinct clades: R. s. saharica, from Algeria, and R. s. riodeoroi, from Morocco (Arano et al. 1998; Harris et al. 2003).
- Schleich, H. H., Kastle, W., and Kabisch, K. (1996). Amphibians and Reptiles of North Africa. Koeltz Scientific Publishers, Koenigstein.
- Arano, B., Llorente, G. A., Montori, A., Buckley, D., and Herrero, P. (1998). ''Diversification in north-west African water frogs: molecular and morphological evidence.'' Herpetological Journal, 8(1), 57-64.
- Buckley, D., Arano, B., Herrero, P., Llorente, G., and Esteban, M. (1994). ''Moroccan Water Frogs vs. R. perezi: allozyme studies show their differences.'' Zoologica Poloniae, 39(3-4), 377-385.
- Buckley, D., Arano, B., Herrero, P., and Llorente, G. (1996). ''Population structure of Moroccan Water Frogs: genetic cohesion despite a fragmented distribution.'' Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research, 34(3), 173-179.
- Esteban, M., Garcia-Paris, M., Buckley, D., and Castanet, J. (1999). ''Bone growth and age in Rana saharica, a water frog living in a desert environment.'' Annales Zoologici Fennici, 36(1), 53-62.
- Harris, D.J., Batista, V., and Carretero, M.A. (2003). ''Diversity of 12S mitochondrial DNA sequence in Iberian and northwest African water frogs across predicted geographic barriers.'' Herpetozoa, 16, 81-83.
- IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2006. Global Amphibian Assessment. www.globalamphibians.org. Accessed on 08 April 2007.