Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Phrynomatis bifasciatus is a medium-sized frog that can grow up to 75 mm. It has a moderately robust body, more elongated and depressed than many frogs. The body is carried high on its slender limbs when moving, which is generally by walking, or occasionally running, but not hopping. The head is mobile and able to move somewhat laterally. Eyes are relatively small and have circular pupils. Digit tips are expanded into truncated discs. Fingers lack webbing completely and toes have vestigial webbing (Wager, 1986; Passmore and Carruthers, 2005).

The common name derives from the rubber-like appearance and texture of the frog's smooth and shiny skin, which feels dry when handled. This frog has shiny black or dark brown skin with continuous or interrupted vivid red or orange bands extending from the snout over the eyelids to the back of the body. There is also a large red or orange spot on the posterior dorsum, in the caudal region. Limbs have red bars or spots. Ventrally this frog is light brown or gray with dense, distinct white spotting (Wager, 1986; Passmore and Carruthers, 2005). Males have a black throat. (Wager, 1986; Zweifel, 2003).

The tadpole of P. bifasciatus reaches 37 mm in total length, with a body length of 12 mm and tail length of 25 mm (Wager, 1986). It has a tail that narrows to a thin, whiplike flagellum (Wager, 1986). Eyes are at the sides of the head (Zweifel, 2003). Both external gills and suckers are present at hatching. The tadpole's appearance is unusual, with a pointed head and slit-like terminal mouth that lacks keratinized jaws, teeth, and papillae. The upper lip is straight and flat, while the lower lip is spatulate, shaped like a V and projecting slightly (Donnelly et al., 1990). No flaps are present on the lips, unlike the related species P. annectens, which has labial flaps on either side of the lower lip, adjacent to the infralabial prominence, and P. microps, which has a large flap on the upper lip (Donnelly et al., 1990). The spiracle is medial and opens near the vent (Donnelly et al., 1990) and is somewhat enlarged, at 2 mm wide (Wager, 1986). The body is mostly transparent, except for the coiled intestine, and has tiny black dots on the mid-back (Wager, 1986). Tail fins have black, sometimes red, narrow bands along the outside edges (Wager, 1986).

This frog is collected for the pet trade (IUCN, 2006). The specific name "bifasciatus" refers to the two red stripes running down the back (Wager, 1986).

  • Wager, V. A. (1986). Frogs of South Africa: Their Fascinating Life Stories. Delta Books, Craighall.
  • Donnelly, M.A., de Sa, R.O., and Guyer, C. (1990). ''Description of the tadpoles of Gastrophryne pictiventris and Nelsonophryne aterrima (Anura: Microhylidae), with a review of morphological variation in free-swimming microhylid larvae.'' American Museum Novitates, 2976, 1-19.
  • IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2006. Global Amphibian Assessment: Phrynomantis bifasciatus. www.globalamphibians.org. Accessed on 11 January 2008.
  • Jaeger, R. G. (1971): ''Toxic reaction to the skin secretions of the frog, Phrynomerus bifasciatus.'' Copeia, 1971, 160-161.
  • Meyers, J. J., O'Reilly, J. C., Monroy, J. A., and Nishikawa, K. C. (2003). ''Mechanism of tongue projection in microhylid frogs.'' The Journal of Experimental Biology, 207, 21-31.
  • Zweifel, R. G. (2003). ''Banded rubber frog, Phrynomantis bifasciatus.'' Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Volume 6, Amphibians. 2nd edition. M. Hutchins, W. E. Duellman, and N. Schlager, eds., Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan.
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Distribution

Range Description

This species ranges from extreme southern Somalia and from Lake Baringo in the Kenyan Rift Valley, south through Tanzania and eastern and southern Democratic Republic of Congo to western Angola, northern Namibia, northern and eastern Botswana, northeastern South Africa and Swaziland. It also occurs on the islands of Zanzibar and Mafia. It occurs from sea level up to at least 50-1,450 m asl.
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Distribution and Habitat

This frog occurs in a broad swath from southern Somalia southeastward to Angola, and extending southward into Namibia, Botswana, and South Africa. It inhabits open country grassland or savanna (Zweifel, 2003), up to 1450 m above sea level, and is also found in agricultural areas (IUCN, 2006). It can be found in loose sand under large rocks on dry hillsides, miles from the nearest water, in cavities of dead trees, and in holes in the ground or in a bank (Wager, 1986).

  • Wager, V. A. (1986). Frogs of South Africa: Their Fascinating Life Stories. Delta Books, Craighall.
  • Donnelly, M.A., de Sa, R.O., and Guyer, C. (1990). ''Description of the tadpoles of Gastrophryne pictiventris and Nelsonophryne aterrima (Anura: Microhylidae), with a review of morphological variation in free-swimming microhylid larvae.'' American Museum Novitates, 2976, 1-19.
  • IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2006. Global Amphibian Assessment: Phrynomantis bifasciatus. www.globalamphibians.org. Accessed on 11 January 2008.
  • Jaeger, R. G. (1971): ''Toxic reaction to the skin secretions of the frog, Phrynomerus bifasciatus.'' Copeia, 1971, 160-161.
  • Meyers, J. J., O'Reilly, J. C., Monroy, J. A., and Nishikawa, K. C. (2003). ''Mechanism of tongue projection in microhylid frogs.'' The Journal of Experimental Biology, 207, 21-31.
  • Zweifel, R. G. (2003). ''Banded rubber frog, Phrynomantis bifasciatus.'' Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Volume 6, Amphibians. 2nd edition. M. Hutchins, W. E. Duellman, and N. Schlager, eds., Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan.
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This widespread species is distributed from the Democratic Republic of Congo, eastern Ethiopia and Somalia, south through East Africa to northeastern South Africa. Its range extends westward through northern Botswana and northern Namibia to southern Angola (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).

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Physical Description

Size

Males are up to 53 mm and females up to 65 mm in snout-vent length (Harper et al., 2010).

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Diagnostic Description

This is a large shiny black frog with two bright red-orange stripes running from the eyes to the groin. There is also a large red spot above the vent. The arms and legs are covered in red spots. The tympanum is visible and slightly smaller than the eye. Toe and finger tips are expanded and end in small truncate disks. The ventral surface is gray with white spots (Text from Harper et al., 2010).

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Look Alikes

Comparisons

The coloration of this species is distinctive (Text from Harper et al., 2010).

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It is a species of savannah woodland and grassland. It also occurs in agricultural habitats. It breeds in temporary pans and pools, and in flooded grassland and small dams.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Habitat and Ecology

P. bifasciatus inhabits a variety of bushveld vegetation types in the Savanna Biome, at altitudes of 50–1450 m. It appears to be adapted to living in hot, semi-arid environments (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).

This species is found in grasslands and wooded savanna at elevations between 50 and 1450 m. It tolerates some habitat modification and can be found in agricultural areas (Harper et al., 2010).

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Associations

Pienaar et al. (1976), Wager (1986) and Lambiris (1989) all found that during the dry season, P. bifasciatus takes shelter under rocks or logs, in holes excavated by other animals, in termitaria, in holes in trees or under loose bark, in the axils of banana leaves and in drain pipes. Jacobsen (1989) report that P. bifasciatus often shelters with other frogs, lizards, scorpions and whip scorpions. The adults feed mainly on ants, but also consume other Hymenoptera, termites, grasshoppers and spiders (Jacobsen 1982). Channing (2001) found the Hamerkop Scopus umbretta prey on this species (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Modes and Mechanisms of Locomotion

This frog seldom jumps, but walks or runs. Although this species is not a true climber, the expanded digits enable it to climb rock surfaces and tree trunks with ease (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).

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Activity and Special Behaviors

When disturbed, it inflates and arches its body, tucking its head in and raising its rump to accentuate the aposematic colours and markings (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).

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Life Cycle

Metamorphosis

Wager (1989) report that tadpoles usually reach metamorphosis after about a month, depending on the availability of food (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 10.3 years (captivity)
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Reproduction

Advertisement Call

Males usually call from concealed positions under vegetation or rocks, in holes in trees, the ventilation shafts of termitaria, or from the hoofprints of cattle, but also from more exposed sites. Males begin to call when they are some distance from the water’s edge, but as the intensity of the chorus increases they move closer to the water, calling from exposed sites at the water’s edge or from emergent or flooded vegetation (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).

Channing and Howell (2006) describe the call as “a long melodious trill, lasting up to 3 seconds.”

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P. bifasciatus breeds during spring and summer, after sufficient rain has fallen to produce shallow pools and pans. Breeding takes place in temporary pans and pools, flooded grassland and small, shallow dams. Channing (2001) found that these frogs are opportunistic in that they will breed in the smallest bodies of water. For example, tadpoles have been seen in the water-filled prints of animals such as elephants (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).

P. bifasciatus eggs are light brown at one pole, 1.3–1.5 mm in diameter, and are surrounded by a jelly capsule that expands from 4 to 7 mm in diameter (Stewart 1967). Clutches of 300–1500 eggs are laid in a mass of jelly, c.75 mm across, that is attached to vegetation or sinks to the bottom of the pool. Power (1927) reports that tadpoles hatch after four days (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).

Breeding takes place in flooded grasslands and temporary pools during the summer rainy season. Clutches are deposited directly in water and contain 300 – 1500 eggs (Text from Harper et al., 2010).

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Growth

Tadpole morphology

The tadpoles are gregarious. They resemble Xenopus tadpoles, but lack tentacles and have deeper, pigmented fins (black or red). They are filter-feeders, maintaining their position in the water column by means of a rapidly undulating tail tip (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Phrynomantis bifasciatus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There is 1 barcode sequence available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is the sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen.

Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.

GAC---GACCAAATTTACAACGTTATCGTCACTGCCCACGCCTTTGTCATAATTTTTTTTATGGTAATGCCAATCATAATTGGGGGCTTCGGAAACTGACTAGTCCCGCTAATG---CTAGGCGCACCCGACATGGCTTTTCCTCGAATAAACAACATGAGTTTCTGACTCCTGCCACCATCATTCCTTCTCCTACTTGCCTCCTCAGCCGTTGAAGCCGGTGCCGGGACAGGTTGAACGGTTTACCCCCCACTTGCTGGGAACCTTGCCCACGCAGGCCCATCCGTAGACCTA---ACAATCTTTTCCCTTCACTTGGCCGGGATTTCTTCTATCCTCGGAGCAATTAACTTTATCACAACTATTATTAATATGAAGCCCCCCTCAGTTACCCAATATCAAACCCCCCTCTTCGTATGATCAGTCCTTATTACAGCCGTTTTACTACTTTTATCACTCCCAGTCTTAGCCGCA---GGCATTACCATGCTTCTTACAGATCGAAACCTTAACACCACCTTTTTTGACCCGGCAGGCGGAGGAGACCCTGTTCTCTACCAACACTTATTCTGATTCTTTGGCCACCC
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Phrynomantis bifasciatus

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

These frogs may be handled without ill effects, but if unduly alarmed or hurt, they produce copious skin secretions with an unpleasant odour. The secretions are toxic, irritant and lethal to other frogs confined in the same container. They are cardiotoxic, affecting the potassium channels in the membranes of human heart cells, and cause cell death within a short time (Van der Walt et al. 1992). In humans, prolonged skin contact, or assimilation of the toxin via cuts or scratches on the hands, can cause extremely painful swelling and other symptoms such as nausea, headache, respiratory distress and an increased pulse rate (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).

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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
Balletto, E., Poynton, J. & Minter, L.

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

Because of its striking colouration and appearance, P. bifasciatus is well known in the pet trade. It was imported into Germany before 1931 (Channing 2001) and is presently offered for sale on the internet. Nevertheless, the species is common throughout its range and occurs in a number of national parks and provincial nature reserves. It is not threatened and no additional conservation measures are needed (Text from Minter et al., 2004, © SI/MAB Biodiversity Program).

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Population

Population
It is a common species.

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

This species is nocturnal but may occasionally be seen in the daytime following a period of precipitation. Although it has expanded discs on the fingertips, it is generally found at or near ground level (Passmore and Carruthers, 1995). However, it is also an adept climber of trees and rocky walls (Wager, 1986). During the dry season it shelters underground in burrows in loose sand or earth, in termite mounds, or in cavities within dead trees (Wager, 1986; Passmore and Carruthers, 2005). Phrynomantis bifasciatus digs backwards to make its burrow, although it does not have specialized digging "spades" on the hind feet (Wager, 1986). This frog prefers to walk slowly rather than take long hops (Wager, 1986). Ants and possibly termites form a large part of the diet in this genus (Passmore and Carruthers, 2005).

During the mating season, P. bifasciatus breeds in temporary rain pools (Zweifel, 2003). These frogs will gather in a large chorus, which may sometimes consist only of this species (rather than a multi-species group) to breed soon after a rainstorm (Wager, 1986). While swimming, they inflate and float, with all four legs kicking over short distances; in contrast, over long swimming distances they kick only with the back legs (Wager, 1986). Males call from shallow water or the water's edge, remaining exposed while calling (Passmore and Carruthers, 2005). The call is loud and audible for over a kilometer, and consists of a melodious high-pitched "porreeeee," or a slightly lower "perrooooo" with a duration of about 2 seconds and a pause of about 5 seconds in between calls (Wager, 1986).

Amplexus is axillary (Zweifel, 2003). Females deposit a clutch of about 600 eggs (Wager, 1986) up to 1,500 eggs (Zweifel, 2003). The egg mass is attached to floating vegetation (Wager, 1986). Eggs have a diameter of 1.3 mm within jelly capsules of 5 mm, and the whole egg mass is about 75 mm in diameter (Wager, 1986).

Tadpoles hatch after four days (Wager, 1986). The tadpole of P. bifasciatus is a midwater nektonic filter-feeder (Passmore and Carruthers, 2005). The V-shaped lower lip constantly moves in and out, to suction in water containing microorganisms such as unicellular algae, desmids, diatoms, and Volvox (Wager, 1986). Since a large amount of water needs to be suctioned, the spiracle through which the water enters is correspondingly enlarged at 2 mm in width (Wager, 1986). During filter-feeding, the tadpole suspends itself motionless at a steep angle in the water column, except for the tail tip vibration and sucking mouth (Wager, 1986). However, it is also capable of rapid and agile movement (Wager, 1986). Larval development takes approximately a month (Wager, 1986). Metamorphosis occurs at a body size of about 13 mm (0.5 inches) (Zweifel, 2003).

The secretions from P. bifasciatus skins can cause skin irritation in humans (Jaeger, 1971), and are lethal to many other anurans, in addition to being highly toxic to mammalian heart cells (Passmore and Carruthers, 2005). The mechanism of toxin action appears to be through potassium channels (Passmore and Carruthers, 2005).

Frogs of the families Microhylidae and Hemisotidae have the ability to aim their tongues laterally, independent of head or jaw movements, when shooting them out to capture prey. Phrynomantis bifasciatus shows the most extreme lateral aim of any frog known, extending its tongue over an arc of more than 200 degrees in the frontal plane. This means P. bifasciatus can extend its tongue to capture prey at an angle of greater than 90 degrees from the midline of the head (in other words, it can even aim slightly backwards). This lateral tongue aiming is controlled by a muscular hydrostatic mechanism (in common with other frogs of the families Microhylidae and Hemisotidae) (Meyers et al., 2003).

  • Wager, V. A. (1986). Frogs of South Africa: Their Fascinating Life Stories. Delta Books, Craighall.
  • Donnelly, M.A., de Sa, R.O., and Guyer, C. (1990). ''Description of the tadpoles of Gastrophryne pictiventris and Nelsonophryne aterrima (Anura: Microhylidae), with a review of morphological variation in free-swimming microhylid larvae.'' American Museum Novitates, 2976, 1-19.
  • IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2006. Global Amphibian Assessment: Phrynomantis bifasciatus. www.globalamphibians.org. Accessed on 11 January 2008.
  • Jaeger, R. G. (1971): ''Toxic reaction to the skin secretions of the frog, Phrynomerus bifasciatus.'' Copeia, 1971, 160-161.
  • Meyers, J. J., O'Reilly, J. C., Monroy, J. A., and Nishikawa, K. C. (2003). ''Mechanism of tongue projection in microhylid frogs.'' The Journal of Experimental Biology, 207, 21-31.
  • Zweifel, R. G. (2003). ''Banded rubber frog, Phrynomantis bifasciatus.'' Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Volume 6, Amphibians. 2nd edition. M. Hutchins, W. E. Duellman, and N. Schlager, eds., Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan.
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Threats

Major Threats
It is an adaptable species that is not facing any significant threats. It is well known in the pet trade but this is not currently at a level to constitute a threat to the species.
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Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors

This species does not appear to be threatened and can tolerate a range of habitats (IUCN, 2006).

  • Wager, V. A. (1986). Frogs of South Africa: Their Fascinating Life Stories. Delta Books, Craighall.
  • Donnelly, M.A., de Sa, R.O., and Guyer, C. (1990). ''Description of the tadpoles of Gastrophryne pictiventris and Nelsonophryne aterrima (Anura: Microhylidae), with a review of morphological variation in free-swimming microhylid larvae.'' American Museum Novitates, 2976, 1-19.
  • IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2006. Global Amphibian Assessment: Phrynomantis bifasciatus. www.globalamphibians.org. Accessed on 11 January 2008.
  • Jaeger, R. G. (1971): ''Toxic reaction to the skin secretions of the frog, Phrynomerus bifasciatus.'' Copeia, 1971, 160-161.
  • Meyers, J. J., O'Reilly, J. C., Monroy, J. A., and Nishikawa, K. C. (2003). ''Mechanism of tongue projection in microhylid frogs.'' The Journal of Experimental Biology, 207, 21-31.
  • Zweifel, R. G. (2003). ''Banded rubber frog, Phrynomantis bifasciatus.'' Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Volume 6, Amphibians. 2nd edition. M. Hutchins, W. E. Duellman, and N. Schlager, eds., Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
It occurs in many protected areas.
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Wikipedia

Banded Rubber Frog

Phrynomantis bifasciatus walking on a level surface

The Banded Rubber Frog (Phrynomantis bifasciatus) is a species of frog in the Microhylidae family. It is found in Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Its natural habitats are 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, intermittent freshwater lakes, intermittent freshwater marshes, arable land, pastureland, water storage areas, ponds, and canals and ditches.The female can reach a maximum size of 65 mm whereas the tadpoles can reach a size of 37 mm. The maximum size of the male is yet unknown, but sizes differ from 45 mm to 68 mm.

Characteristics: Greyish underside with white spots (sometimes not apparent). Skin is smooth and rubbery. Arms and legs have reddish spots. To distinguish between gender, the male has a darker throat.

References[edit]

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