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).
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).
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).
Males are up to 53 mm and females up to 65 mm in snout-vent length (Harper et al., 2010).
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).
The coloration of this species is distinctive (Text from Harper et al., 2010).
Highveld Grasslands Habitat
This species can be found in the Highveld grasslands ecoregion in southern Africa. This ecoregion now provides the last remaining stronghold of a number of grassland species that have suffered major reductions in abundance in the grassland biome, and which are consequently threatened with extinction (e.g. the Blue Crane (Anthropoides paradisea). There is a relatively biodiverse vertebrate fauna, with 608 taxa recorded.
The dominant vegetation comprises grasses, with geophytes and herbs also being well represented. Dominant and diagnostic grass species are Thatching Grass (Hyparrhenia hirta) and Catstail Dropseed Grass (Sporobolus pyramidalis). Non-grassy forbs include False Paperbark Thorn (Acacia sieberiana), Rhus vulgaris, Selago densiflora, Spermacoce natalensis, Aandblom (Kohautia cynanchica), and Phyllanthus glaucophyllus. Relatively high precipitation levels sustain the grasslands during the austral summer, with the mean annual range between 400 to 900 millimetres.
The Highveld grassland ecoregion can be divided into three habitat types: (1) Kalahari/Karoo-highveld transition zone; (2) sweet grasslands; and (3) sour grasslands. In the western half of the ecoregion, a gradual transition occurs from the Karoo/Kalahari-highveld transition zone to the grassland habitats of the Highveld. Shrubs and trees grow in the transition zone, although grasses still dominate this zone.
Bird species richness is relatively high within this ecoregion. However, Botha’s Lark (Spizocorys fringillaris) is the only bird species strictly endemic to the ecoregion, where it inhabits heavily grazed grassland. An additional six avian species are near-endemics including White-winged Flufftail (Sarothrura ayresii), Blue Korhaan (Eupodotis caerulescens), White-bellied Bustard (Eupodotis senegalensis), Rudd’s lark (Heteromirafra ruddi), the Near Threatened Melodious lark (Mirafra cheniana), Buff-streaked chat (Saxicola bifasciatus), and the Vulnerable Yellow-breasted pipit (Anthus chloris).
This ecoregion contains a higher number of mammals, although only the Orange Mouse (Mus orangiae) is restricted to the ecoregion, and the Rough-haired Golden Mole (Chrysospalax villosa) is near-endemic. The ecoregion also supports populations of several large mammal species, some of which are rare in southern Africa (Stuart and Stuart 1995). Among these are the Vulnerable Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), Brown Hyena (Hyaena brunnea), African Civet Cat (Civettictis civetta), Leopard (Panthera pardus), Sable Antelope (Hippotragus niger), Ground Pangolin (Manis temminckii), Honey Badger (Mellivora capensis), African Striped Weasel (Poecilogale albinucha), Aardwolf (Proteles cristatus), Oribi (Ourebia ourebi), and Hartmann's Mountain Zebra (Equus zebra hartmannae). Herds of large mammals, including Black Wildebeest (Connochaetes gnou) and White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum), previously occurred in the Highveld grasslands, but were extirpated by the local human population. Other notable mammalian taxa occurring in the ecoregion include the Vulnerable Juliana's golden mole (Neamblysomus julianae).
Relatively few reptile species occur within the Highveld grasslands, mainly due to its cool climate. However, the ecoregion supports some of Africa’s most characteristic reptile species, including Nile Crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus), African Rock-python (Python sebae), Nile Monitor (Varanus niloticus) and Veld Monitor (Varanus albigularis albigularis). There are also two strictly endemic reptiles: Giant Girdled Lizard (Cordylus giganteus) and Agama aculeata distanti (Branch 1998). Several additional reptile species are near-endemics, including Drakensberg Rock gecko (Afroedura niravia), the Vulnerable Giant Girdled Lizard (Cordylus giganteus), and Breyer's Whip Lizard (Tetradactylus breyeri) (Branch 1998).
Twenty-nine amphibians occur within the ecoregion but none are endemic (Passmore and Carruthers 1995). Example anuran species in the Highveld grasslands are the Kimberley Toad (Amietophrynus poweri), African Dwarf Toad (Poyntonophrynus vertebralis), who breeds in temporary shallow pans, freshwater pools or depressions containing rainwater; the Red Toad (Schismaderma carens); Cape River Frog (Amietia fuscigula). endemic of the high slopes of the Drakensberg Mountains and Lesotho Highlands; South African Snake-necked Frog (Phrynomantis bifasciatus), typically found under loose sand below large rocks or boulders.
- C. Michael Hogan & World Wildlife Fund. 2015. Highveld grasslands. Encyclopedia of Earth. National Council for Science and Environment. Washington DC
- J.P.H. Acocks. 1988. Veld types of South Africa. Memoirs of the Botanical Survey of South Africa 57: 1-146. (An update of the first edition published in 1953),
Southern Africa Bushveld
Garman's toad (Amietophrynus garmani) is found in the Southern African bushveld, among other ecoregions. The Southern Africa bushveld is an element of the vast savannas that cover much of southern Africa. There is low endemism in this ecoregion for both flora or fauna, but the charismatic large mammals and rich birdlife characteristic of African savannas are in evidence. The rugged Waterberg Mountains contain the highest levels of species richness and endemism in the region, and are noted for their reptilian endemism. The ecoregion occurs on an extensive, undulating interior plateau, which lies at an elevation between 700 metres (m) to 1100 m. The soils of this plateau are chiefly coarse, sandy and shallow, overlying granite, quartzite, sandstone or shale. The most distinctive topographical feature of the ecoregion is the rugged and rocky Waterberg Mountains, which rise up from the plateau to an elevation of between 1200 m to 1500 m.http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/51cbeeed7896bb431f69b38d/554565bb0cf24df5070a17ee/?topic=51cbfc79f702fc2ba8129ee0
The ecoregion amphibian associates of the Southern African bushveld are: Savanna ridged frog (Ptychadena anchietae); Angola frog (Rana angolensis); African gray treefrog (Chiromantis xerampelina); Senegal running frog (Kassina senegalensis); Striped stream frog (Strongylopus fasciatus); African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis); African split-skin toad (Schismaderma carens); Uzungwe grassland frog (Ptychadena uzungwensis); African ornate frog (Hildebrandtia ornata); Mababe river frog (Phrynobatrachus mababiensis); Marbled sand frog (Tomopterna marmorata); Marbled snout burrower (Hemisus marmoratus); Knocking sand frog (Tomopterna krugerensis), which is found broadly in southern Africa; and the Transvaal short-headed frog (Breviceps adspersus); Mozambique ridged frog (Ptychadena mossambica); Lukula grassland frog (Ptychadena taenioscelis); Horseshoe forest treefrog (Leptopelis bocagii); South African snake-necked frog (Phrynomantis bifasciatus); Boettger's dainty frog (Cacosternum boettgeri); Natal ghost frog (Heleophryne natalensis); Cryptic sandfrog (Tomopterna cryptotis); Mozambique rain frog (Breviceps mossambicus); Long reed frog (Hyperolius nasutus); Muller's clawed frog (Xenopus muelleri); Common reed frog (Hyperolius viridiflavus); Gray's stream frog (Strongylopus grayii); Natal puddle frog (Phrynobatrachus natalensis); Painted reed frog (Hyperolius marmoratus); Garman's toad (Amietophrynus garmani); Gutteral toad (Amietophrynus gutturalis); Transvaal dwarf toad (Poyntonophrynus fenoulheti); and the Flat-back toad (Amietophrynus maculatus).
Example reptilian associates within this ecoregion are: Bibron's worm snake (Typhlops bibronii); Vine snake (Thelotornis capensis); Black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis); Angola garter snake (Elapsoidea semiannulata); Annobon lidless skink (Panaspis annobonensis); Bark snake (Hemirhagerrhis nototaenia); Bell's hingeback tortoise (Kinixys belliana); Blue throated agama (Acanthocercus atricollis); Blunt-tailed worm lizard (Dalophia pistillum); Bradfield's dwarf gecko (Lygodactylus bradfieldi); the endemic gecko Broadley's rock gecko (Afroedura broadleyi); and the endemic lizards Platysaurus minor and Platysaurus monotropis.
Some of the many mammalian taxa found within the Southern African bushveld are: Burchell's zebra (Equus quagga burchelli); Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius), a herbivore classified as Vulnerable; Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus), a carnivore classified as Vulnerable; the Near Threatened White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum); Commerson's roundleaf bat (Tomopterna cryptotis), classified as Near Threatened; Spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta); and the Mauritian tomb bat (Taphozous mauritianus).
There are numerous avian species found in this ecoregion, a few examples being: the Near Threatened Red footed falcon (Falco vespertinus); Kori bustard (Ardeotis kori); Long-crested eagle (Lophaetus occipitalis); Olive bee eater (Merops superciliosus); Marabou stork (Leptoptilos crumeniferus); Martial eagle (Polemaetus bellicosus); and the Pink-backed pelican (Pelecanus rufescens).
Habitat and Ecology
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).
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).
Life History and 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).
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).
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).
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
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.”
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).
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).
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Phrynomantis bifasciatus
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.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Phrynomantis bifasciatus
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
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).
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 2004Least Concern
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).
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).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
This species does not appear to be threatened and can tolerate a range of habitats (IUCN, 2006).
Banded rubber frog
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.
This species of Microhylid has been kept in captivity
- Minter, L., Poynton, J.C. & Balletto, E. 2004. Phrynomantis bifasciatus. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on 23 July 2007.
- Prof.S.Jansen, Tuks, University of Pretoria,E. 2012.
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