Comprehensive DescriptionRead full entry
Hemisus guttatus females can reach 80 mm (Channing, 2003), or 3 inches; the males can reach up to 2 inches (Wager, 1965). This frog has a globular body with a small pointed head and pointed snout, and tiny eyes (Channing, 2003). It is dark purple or brown, with numerous yellow dots on the dorsum (Channing, 2003). The snout is hardened and flattened, with the mouth on the underside (Wager, 1965) and is used for burrowing head-first, as the common name of Spotted Snout-Burrower suggests (Channing, 2003). The arms and fingers are strong and muscular (Channing, 2003). Fingers bear strong claws, like those of a mole (Wager, 1965). Toes are not webbed and the skin is smooth (Channing, 2003). Each heel bears a small, keratinized ridge on the inner surface, facilitating burrowing (Wager, 1965). The inner metatarsal tubercle is not as long as the second toe (Channing, 2003). The male does not appear to have a vocal sac, but in males the throat is dark-colored (Wager, 1965).
The tadpole of Hemisus guttatus reaches 62 mm in length, with a body of 21 mm and tail of 41 mm (Wager, 1965). It is brown to olive-brown in color, with gray under the chin and a white belly (Wager, 1965). The tail is broad with a distinctive cream stripe on either side (Rose, 1950). The first third to half of the tail has a thickened sheath (Channing, 2003), looking almost as though the tail has been broken off and regenerated there; in this thickened section, the center portion horizontally is enlarged and darkened (Wager, 1965). When the tadpole reaches 25 mm in length, the posterior half of the tail and fins darkens to black. The jaws are keratinized, with 2 complete and 4 divided rows of denticles above the jaws and three complete rows below the jaws, and a tooth formula of 6(3-6)/3. The mouth has 3 to 4 rows of small papillae at the sides, plus 2 rows of papillae below, and an additional 6 larger papillae below. The head rapidly changes to being pointed when the front legs are formed (Wager, 1965).
The specific name "guttatus" refers to the spotting on this species (Channing, 2003).