Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

A medium-sized Phrynobatrachus with a pointed, but rounded snout and a warty skin. Males reach 25-30 mm, females 26-31 mm (SVL). The index head width/SVL is 0.24-0.29. Four warts forming two longitudinal groups of two are found at shoulder level, converging slightly towards the head. A feebly developed supratympanal fold is present. The tympanum is barely visible. Males have a single subgular vocal sac. Inactive it forms numerous folds on the throat, running either irregularly or parallel to the jaw. This feature is probably visible only during the breeding season. Feet with a small inner metatarsal tubercle. An outer metatarsal tubercle at the base of the fifth toe. Tarsal tubercle present. Webbing formula: 1 (0); 2 i/e (1-0) or (1-0.5); 3 i/e (1); 4 i/e (2); 5 (0.5) or (1). Tips of toes and fingers not enlarged. Hands not webbed; those of males bear a thenar tubercle which is enlarged at least during the breeding season.
Voucher specimens: SMNS 8960 1-9; SMF 78634, 78636.
The very uniform color of the dorsum is light to dark brown. Only the areas around the warts, the latter and the transversal bands on the extremities may be somewhat darker. No lateral lines. At night, some breeding males occasionally show green dorsal patches and interorbital lines. The longitudinal line on the posterior parts of the thighs is either feebly defined or absent. The vocal sac of the male is black with numerous prominent white spots. The color of female throats varies from white to white with black spots or even black. The edge of the lower jaw is spotted black. A narrow black line occasionally runs from the feebly spotted flanks to the center of the pectoral region. The rest of the venter is white.
Lambiris (1989) and Passmore & Carruthers (1995) show animals with broad vertebral bands. Lamotte & Xavier (1966a) report on vaguely marbled mottled posterior parts of the thighs (sometimes irregular bordered longitudinal lines), a light interorbital line and large black dorsal blotches. In alcohol, the dorsum is uniform drab brown, and just the patches on the extremities are feebly discernible. The ventral color does not change.
The voice is an amplitude modulated, very loud "craa" resembles the call of a toad. A call sequence consists of 4-230 calls and lasts about 4.6-147 sec. 1-2 calls per second are uttered. Frequency ranges from 1.2-2.3 kHz. Schiøtz (1963) describes the call as a buzzing hum which is uttered in the daytime. This observation however, rather applies to P. francisci and the sonagram he published shows a call which resembles that of P. francisci. It lasts 0.3 sec, and the dominant frequency is 1.5 kHz (Schiøtz 1964c). Van den Elzen & Kreulen (1979) give a call duration of 0.62 sec. The pauses between these calls last 0.69 sec. The dominant frequency ranges from 1.1-1.5 kHz. The sonic pressure has been measured by Passmore (1981). At a distance of 50 cm, it amounts to 104 dB. DuPreez (1996) describes the call as a vibrant ‘ghrr-uu-ghrr-uu’.
A female laid 1652 eggs forming a single floating film. They were brown-white and measured 0.8-1.0 mm (egg diameter incl. jelly: 1.8-2.0 mm). The tadpoles hatched within half a day. According to Passmore & Carruthers (1995), the clutch has a diameter of 8 cm. Wager (1986) describes an egg film of 10 cm diameter, consisting of 500-800 eggs. The eggs measure 1 mm (2 mm incl. jelly). The tadpoles hatch 3-4 days later. Lambiris (1989) reports on a compact mass of 400 eggs laid in the midst of vegetation at the surface of the water. He gives the egg diameter with 1 mm (1.8 mm incl. jelly). They are light brown, with a somewhat lighter ventral side. His tadpoles hatched two days later. According to Balinsky (1969), each egg film consists of several hundred eggs. It floats at the surface, or below, the latter if the eggs stick to vegetation, and if the level of the water rises after spawning. Rose (1959) reports on 200-400 reddish-brown eggs per clutch. The eggs float on the surface. According to DuPreez (1996) a clutch comprises approx. 500 eggs. Fischer & Hinkel (1992) report on small clumps of eggs attached to aquatic plants, immediately beneath the surface.
The keratodont formula of tadpoles from Comoé National Park is 1 // 1+1 / 1. The oral disc is surrounded by one lateral, and two caudal rows of papillae. The caudal one consists of very long, filiform papillae. The horny teeth are short, compact and have six tips. The larvae are nearly indistinguishable from Phrynobatrachus latifrons tadpoles.
According to Lambiris (1988), tadpoles reach up to 35 mm (TL). The fin is feebly spotted, and the oral disc is surrounded lateral and caudal by papillae rows of equal length. Wager (1986) figures a larva whose body is more elongate than that of typical Phrynobatrachus tadpoles. The lateral papilla row is simple before the corners of the mouth, and double caudad of this area. All papillae are of equal length. The keratodont formula of the tadpoles is 1 / 1+1 // 2. They reach a TL of 35 mm (BL: 12 mm) and metamorphose at the age of four to five weeks (Wager 1986, DuPreez 1996). The tadpole described by Lambiris (1989), whose back, tail base and caudal bear black spots, grows as fast as the former and reaches the same length, but its keratodont formula is 1 / 2+2 // 1+1 / 2. According to Balinsky (1969), tadpoles metamorphose at the age of 27-40 days. Their development is normal at water temperatures of 21.5 to 34 °C but stagnates at lower temperatures, and the tadpoles will die when the above-mentioned level is surpassed. SVL after metamorphosis is 12.5 mm (Patterson & McLachlan 1989).

This account was taken from Rödel, M.-O. (2000), Herpetofauna of West Africa vol. I. Amphibians of the West African Savanna, with kind permission from Edition Chimaira publishers, Frankfurt am Main.
For references in the text, see here

  • Rödel, M. O. (2000). Herpetofauna of West Africa, Vol. I. Amphibians of the West African Savanna. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, Germany.
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Taxonomic Notes

Phrynobatrachus natalensis most likely represents a complex of cryptic species due to its widespread distribution, and morphological diversity of eggs, larvae, and adults (Rödel, 2000; Channing, 2001; Largen, 2001; Channing and Howell, 2006; Pickersgill, 2007; Zimkus et al., 2010).

Rödel (2000) reported the variation in clutch size, tadpole morphology, size of the adult frog and period of activity, suggests that this taxon may comprise more than one species (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).

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Summary

This species is likely a complex of multiple cryptic species. Members of this genus are identified by the presence of a midtarsal tubercle, elongate inner metatarsal tubercle, and outer metatarsal tubercle. P. natalensis is a medium to large sized puddle frog (SVL < 40 mm) with variable dorsal coloration and patterns, but most often brown with a light vertebral stripe. Finger tips lack disks or distinct swelling. The tympanum is visible and larger than ½ the diameter of the eye. Webbing is not consistent, possibly because of taxonomic confusion.

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Distribution

Range Description

This species ranges very widely in the savannah zone of Africa, from Senegal and Gambia, east to Ethiopia and Eritrea, south to Angola, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Lesotho. It occurs on the island of Zanzibar (Tanzania). There appear to be no records from Burkina Faso and Chad, though it presumably occurs in these countries. It occurs up to 2,200 m asl in Ethiopia.
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Distribution and Habitat

This species is very widespread in African savannas south of the Sahara (Frost 1985). Records are available for the following countries: Senegal, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Congo, R.D. Congo, Central African Republic, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Angola (Günther 1864b, Peters 1867, 1875, 1878, 1882c, Boulenger 1910, Lönnberg 1910, Nieden 1915, Chabanaud 1919b, 1921, Noble 1924, Loveridge 1929, 1930, 1933, 1936, 1941, 1942, 1957, Parker 1930, Witte 1934, 1941, Mertens ?1938a, 1940, 1955, 1971, Laurent 1952e, 1956b, 1972c, 1979a, Perret & Mertens 1957b, Inger & Marx 1961, Schiøtz 1964a, b, 1967, Poynton 1964a, c, 1966, 1991, Lamotte & Xavier 1966a, Perret 1966, Stewart 1967, ?Walker 1968, Balinsky 1969, Broadley 1971, 1991, Lamotte 1971, Amiet 1973a, Stevens 1974, Böhme ?1975, 1994d, Bowker & Bowker 1979, Van den Elzen & Kreulen 1979, Joger 1981, 1982, 1990, Poynton & Broadley 1985b, Schätti 1986, Wager 1986, Böhme & Schneider 1987, Lambert 1987, Branch 1988, Lambiris 1988, 1989, Channing 1989, Patterson & McLachlan 1989, Fischer & Hinkel 1992, Channing & Griffin 1993, Poynton & Haake 1993, Simbotwe & Mubemba 1993, Bates 1995, DuPreez 1995, 1996, Passmore & Carruthers 1995, Rödel 1996, Joger & Lambert 1997, Largen 1998)
At Comoé National Park, this species is found both in larger savanna ponds harboring an abundant vegetation and in car tracks on the edges of forests which lack any trace of vegetation. This species apparently avoids closed rainforests (Noble 1924, Guibé & Lamotte 1963). Almost any type of habitat is quoted in the literature (Böhme 1994d); however, arid savannas with or without scattered trees are preferred (Mertens 1940, Perret & Mertens 1957b, Schiøtz 1964c, 1967, Broadley 1971, Lambiris 1988, Patterson & McLachlan 1989). Laurent (1979a) quotes both lowland and montane savannas. According to Lambiris (1988b) in Natal P. natalensis inhabits regions of up to 1500 m a.s.l. In South Africa, swamps and smaller temporary water bodies are colonized (Balinsky 1969, Passmore & Carruthers 1995). Smaller water bodies are also quoted by Loveridge (1933) and Fischer & Hinkel (1992). Poynton & Broadley (1985b) and Lambiris (1988) give contrary data. These authors report on permanent or semi-permanent waters. However, in the same publication they underline that these frogs prefer shallow water. Mertens (1955b) reports on animals found in a bat cave.

  • Rödel, M. O. (2000). Herpetofauna of West Africa, Vol. I. Amphibians of the West African Savanna. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, Germany.
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This species ranges very widely in the savannah zone of Africa, from Senegal and Gambia, east to Ethiopia and Eritrea, south to Angola, Namibia, Botswana and South Africa and occurs on the island of Zanzibar, Tanzania. It presumably occurs in Burkina Faso, Chad and Lesotho (Rödel et al., 2004).

P. natalensis is widely distributed in the savannas of sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal in the west to Somalia in the east and southward through East Africa. To the south, it ranges as far as northeastern Namibia, northern Botswana, and Eastern Cape Province of South Africa (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).

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Physical Description

Morphology

Stewart (1974) suggests that the polymorphic colour pattern may be a means of protection against predators, and specific patterns have been correlated with particular habitats (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).

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Diagnostic Description

Most individuals are dark brown with variable dorsal patterns, including light vertebral stripes and bands. Finger tips lack disks or distinct swelling. The tympanum is visible and larger than ½ the diameter of the eye. Webbing is not consistent, possibly because of taxonomic confusion (Harper et al., 2010).

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It is typically associated with herbaceous vegetation along the margins of shallow marshes, lakes, rivers, streams and pools, both permanent and temporary. It is found in semi-desert scrub, arid and humid savannah, agricultural land, and even at clearings deep within forest. It breeds in temporary ponds and puddles associated with pans, streams or vleis.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Habitat and Ecology

It is typically associated with herbaceous vegetation along the margins of shallow marshes, lakes, rivers, streams and pools, both permanent and temporary. It is found in semi-desert scrub, arid and humid savannah, agricultural land, and even at clearings deep within forest. It occurs up to 2200m asl in Ethiopia (Rödel et al., 2004).

P. natalensis inhabits a variety of vegetation types in the Savanna and Grassland biomes where summer rainfall is >500 mm, although some populations along the western edge of the species’ range are found in drier areas (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).

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Associations

Food items recorded north of the atlas region include a variety of insects, especially termites during the rainy season, as well as earthworms, snails and frogs (Inger and Marx 1961). Predators of the species include Blacknecked Spitting Cobra Naja nigricollis (Channing 2001) and Herald Snake Crotaphopeltis hotamboeia (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).

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Population Biology

It is a widespread and often abundant species (Rödel et al., 2004).

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Life History and Behavior

Life Cycle

Metamorphosis

Rödel (2000) found that this species hatches within 3–4 days and took 4–5 weeks to reach metamorphosis, but other authors report considerable variation in the rate of development (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).

Metamorphosis is typically completed within 40 days (Harper et al., 2010).

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Reproduction

Advertisement Call

Males can be heard calling during the day as well as at night. Channing and Howell (2006) describe the call as “a slow quiet snore.”

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Breeding takes place in shallow to fairly deep water in temporary pans and pools, vleis, dams and even small, slow flowing streams. Wager (1986) recorded the species breeding in brackish pools near the high-water mark at the coast. Breeding sites usually have vegetation or other types of cover along their banks. P. natalensis is tolerant of human disturbance and is often found near human habitation (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).

Males usually call from concealed sites and may be heard throughout the day and night in wet weather. Aggressive encounters between males are commonplace (Wager 1965).Breeding begins in spring after the first rains and continues to late summer. Mating pairs swim while depositing the small eggs in a single-layered plate that floats at the surface (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).

It breeds in temporary ponds and puddles, usually in still water associated with pans, streams or vleis (Rödel et al., 2004; Harper et al., 2010). Small dark brown eggs are laid in clutches of approximately 200 (Harper et al., 2010).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Genetics

Phylogenetics

In analyses by Zimkus et al. (2010), samples assigned to P. natalensis formed a clade but exhibited extraordinary genetic diversity. Pairwise sequence divergences of mtDNA among conspecific populations of P. natalensis varied from 0.2% to 12.2%. Five main clades were identified that had pairwise divergences greater than 4.7% (P. natalensis A–E). This complex was sister to a group containing P. acridoides, P. pakenhami, P. bullans, and P. francisci.

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Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Phrynobatrachus natalensis

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 9
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group

Reviewer/s
Stuart, S.N.

Contributor/s
Msuya, C.A., Minter, L., Largen, M.J., Rödel , M.-O., Pickersgill, M. & Lötters, S.

Justification
Listed as Least Concern in view of its very wide distribution, its tolerance of a broad range of habitats and its presumed large population.

History
  • 2004
    Least Concern
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IUCN Red List Category and Justification of Conservation Status

The IUCN Red List (2010) categorizes this species as Least Concern in view of its very wide distribution, its tolerance of a broad range of habitats, its presumed large population, and because it is unlikely to be declining fast enough to qualify for listing in a more threatened category (Rödel et al., 2004).

It is well established in many national parks and provincial nature reserves and does not need additional conservation action (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).

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Population

Population
It is a widespread and often abundant species.

Population Trend
Stable
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Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

Both sexes migrate to the ponds after rainfall. Males call at night from the grass on the edge of the water, or on bare ground. During the dry season, these frogs possibly live on the edges of puddles near the Kongo, a tributary of the Comoé. In March I once heard the call of this species in the day time at this site but did not succeed in locating the frogs. In the late rainy season P. natalensis starts calling regularly at dusk and continues through the night. Most choruses established along water filled car tracks without any vegetation. Here males call from the bare ground or while sitting in shallow water. Population densities were always much lower than in P. latifrons and P. francisci. P. natalensis was never observed at the respective sites during the day. According Lamotte & Xavier (1966a), just a few individuals of this nocturnal species are usually captured. According to Passmore & Carruthers (1995), P. natalensis begins to call only at 1.00 h a.m. and is heard till dawn. This observation is confirmed by Bowker & Bowker (1979), at least as far as the majority of the frogs is concerned. At the Kenyan pond observed by the latter authors, the frogs thus apparently avoided P. acridoides which called in the early evening hours. At Mporokoso, Zambia, P. natalensis began calling around 1 p.m. after heavy rain (Pickersgill pers. comm.). Perhaps calling is only restricted to certain hours were they live in sympatry with other Phrynobatrachus species. In Namibia P. natalensis calls day and night in wet weather (Channing & Griffin 1993).
According to Lambiris (1988), exposed locations on the edges of the pools or plants growing in shallow water are chosen as calling sites. The frogs are usually met near open water. They are diurnal but will also call at night in periods of rainfall (Lambiris 1988b, 1989). Van den Elzen & Kreulen (1979) quote calling sites on plants, in shallow water zones and even beneath the surface. Probably they refer to a distinct cryptic species which lives in the Tanzanian upland (Pickersgill pers. comm.). In Nigeria, Walker (1968) found this species during the dry season. The frogs were usually encountered on riverbanks, i.e. far away from their savanna ponds. As he mentions neither P. francisci nor P. latifrons or P. accraensis, his statements possibly refer to one of the latter species.
Inger & Marx (1961) found that this species mainly preys on terrestrial organisms. In particular, they quote beetles, termites, bugs, spiders, flies, cockroaches, orthopterans and butterflies. Termites are reported to form the bulk of the diet during the rainy season. Noble (1924) and Loveridge (1936) likewise cite termites and ants as prey.
At Comoé National Park, this species is found both in larger savanna ponds harboring an abundant vegetation and in car tracks on the edges of forests which lack any trace of vegetation. This species apparently avoids closed rainforests (Noble 1924, Guibé & Lamotte 1963). Almost any type of habitat is quoted in the literature (Böhme 1994d); however, arid savannas with or without scattered trees are preferred (Mertens 1940, Perret & Mertens 1957b, Schiøtz 1964c, 1967, Broadley 1971, Lambiris 1988, Patterson & McLachlan 1989). Laurent (1979a) quotes both lowland and montane savannas. According to Lambiris (1988b) in Natal P. natalensis inhabits regions of up to 1500 m a.s.l. In South Africa, swamps and smaller temporary water bodies are colonized (Balinsky 1969, Passmore & Carruthers 1995). Smaller water bodies are also quoted by Loveridge (1933) and Fischer & Hinkel (1992). Poynton & Broadley (1985b) and Lambiris (1988) give contrary data. These authors report on permanent or semi-permanent waters. However, in the same publication they underline that these frogs prefer shallow water. Mertens (1955b) reports on animals found in a bat cave.

  • Rödel, M. O. (2000). Herpetofauna of West Africa, Vol. I. Amphibians of the West African Savanna. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, Germany.
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Populations of this species are stable (Rödel et al., 2004).

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Threats

Major Threats
It is an adaptable species that is facing only local threats.
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It is an adaptable species that is facing only local threats (Rödel et al., 2004).

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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
It occurs in many protected areas.
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Conservation Actions and Management

It occurs in many protected areas (Rödel et al., 2004).

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Uses

In Burkino Faso, P. natalensis is one of many frog species that are traded or consumed as a source of animal protein. Frogs are an integral part of the economy in areas with large frog populations because villagers are employed to catch and prepare frogs, and because they are an "important international trading item." Aside from their value as an essential food source, frogs and, more commonly, toads may also be used for cultural reasons and as traditional medicine in areas where Western medicine is not available (Mohneke, 2010).

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Wikipedia

Natal dwarf puddle frog

The Natal dwarf puddle frog (Phrynobatrachus natalensis) is a species of frog in the Phrynobatrachidae family. It is found in Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ivory Coast, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and possibly Burkina Faso, Chad, Lesotho, and Mauritania.

Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical dry forests, subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical moist montane forests, dry savanna, moist savanna, subtropical or tropical dry shrubland, subtropical or tropical moist shrubland, subtropical or tropical dry lowland grassland, subtropical or tropical seasonally wet or flooded lowland grassland, subtropical or tropical high-altitude grassland, rivers, intermittent rivers, swamps, freshwater lakes, freshwater marshes, intermittent freshwater marshes, arable land, pastureland, rural gardens, urban areas, heavily degraded former forest, ponds, and seasonally flooded agricultural land.

Description[edit]

The Natal dwarf puddle frog is a small frog with a rounded snout and warty skin, growing to a snout-to-vent length of about 25 to 31 mm (1.0 to 1.2 in). The digits do not have enlarged tips and the fingers are unwebbed. It has a uniformly coloured greenish or brownish dorsal surface, slightly darker around the warts, and a whitish belly. The male has a prominent white-spotted, black vocal sac on the throat during the breeding season.[2]

Behaviour[edit]

The Natal dwarf puddle frog feeds on a variety of invertebrates including beetles, termites, bugs, flies, cockroaches, grasshoppers, butterflies and spiders. Termites may be the most-frequently eaten food item.

This frog breeds in the rainy season. At this time, males call and both sexes aggregate at ponds, streams, marshes, puddles, water accumulated in wheel ruts, pools and other wet locations. The eggs float and a clutch of several hundred form a raft on the surface and hatch about four days later. The tadpoles take about four to five weeks to develop to metamorphosis.[2]

Status[edit]

The Natal dwarf puddle frog is listed by the IUCN as being of "Least Concern" as it is an adaptable species with a very wide range and its numbers appear to be stable.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b IUCN SSC Amphibian Specialist Group (2013). "Phrynobatrachus natalensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
  2. ^ a b M.O. Roedel (2002-01-12). "Phrynobatrachus natalensis". AmphibiaWeb. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
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