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).
- 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.
- Wager, V. A. (1986). Frogs of South Africa: Their Fascinating Life Stories. Delta Books, Craighall.
- 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.