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Narrow-Mouthed Frogs: Microhylidae

Banded Rubber Frog (phrynomantis Bifasciatus): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: The banded rubber frog is black and pear-shaped with a wide body that becomes increasingly narrow toward the head. Two wide, red to orange red stripes run down the sides of the body from the snout over the eye and to the front of the hips. A red to orange red splotch also colors the rump. The body is smooth and quite shiny. Its short, front and back legs have numerous red spots. Its toes, which have almost no webbing, end in small pads. The front toes are quite long. Its underside is decorated with small white spots. Banded rubber frogs grow to about 2.75 inches (6.8 centimeters) long from the tip of the snout to the end of the rump. The tadpoles have a rather fish-like look, because their eyes are on the sides During the day, they dig backward into the soil or into termite hills. Sometimes, they simply climb into holes in trees. They are active at night, when they come out on land. (© E. R. Degginger/Photo Researchers, Inc.) of the head rather than on top, like many other tadpoles' eyes are.

Geographic range: The banded rubber frog lives along the far eastern side of central to southern Africa.

Habitat: Even though they do not have spades on their feet like many other digging frogs have, banded rubber frogs are burrowers. They spend much of their time in underground burrows that they dig themselves.

Diet: The adults eat small insects, especially ants and termites. Tadpoles suck in water and sift out tiny organisms, which they eat.

Behavior and reproduction: During the day, they dig backward into the soil or into termite hills. Sometimes, they simply climb into holes in trees. They are active at night, when they come out on land. Instead of hopping, they either walk or run. By remaining underground during the day, they avoid most predators. When necessary, however, they can also protect themselves by oozing a substance from their skin that predators find to be bad-tasting.

In rainy times of year, the males move into or alongside puddles and small pools of water and begin making their calls. The call is a high-pitched trill that lasts several seconds and then repeats. Like other frogs, the males and females mate when the male crawls up onto the female's back. The female can lay up to 1,500 eggs, which drop into the water and stick to underwater plants. The eggs hatch into tadpoles that float heads up in the water, while wiggling their whip-like tails below. In about a month, the tadpoles change into half-inch (1.3-centimeter) tadpoles.

Banded rubber frogs and people: People rarely see this burrowing frog, except in the pet trade, where it is fairly common. If a person handles the frog, it may ooze from its skin the same substance it uses to protect itself from predators. This substance may bother human skin.

Conservation status: The World Conservation Union (IUCN) does not consider the banded rubber frog to be at risk. This frog lives in a large area and has a large population, even though it is a fairly common pet species. ∎



Halliday, Tim, and Kraig Adler, eds. The Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians (Smithsonian Handbooks). New York: Facts on File, 1991.

Mattison, Chris. Frogs and Toads of the World. New York: Facts on File Publications, 1987.

Parker, H. W. A Monograph of the Frogs of the Family Microhylidae. London: British Museum, 1934.

Passmore, N. I., and V. C. Carruthers. South African Frogs. Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1979.

Showler, Dave. Frogs and Toads: A Golden Guide. New York: St. Martin's Press, 2004.


Milius, Susan. "Frogs Play Tree: Male tunes his call to specific tree hole." Science News, December 7, 2002 (vol. 162): 356.

Web sites:

"Chubby Frog." Frogland. http://allaboutfrogs.org/info/species/chubby.html (accessed on March 26, 2005).

"Eastern Narrow-Mouthed Toad Gastrophryne carolinensis." USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/narcam/idguide/gcarolin.htm (accessed on March 26, 2005).

"The Fragile World of Frogs: Paternal Instincts." National Geographic. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/finaledit/0105/ (accessed on April 8, 2005).

"Gastrophryne carolinensis, Eastern Narrowmouth Toad." Herps of Texas — Frogs and Toads. http://www.zo.utexas.edu/research/txherps/frogs/gastrophryne.carolinensis.html (accessed on March 26, 2005).

"Painted Chorus Frog, Microhyla butleri." Wildlife Singapore. http://www.wildsingapore.per.sg/discovery/factsheet/frogpaintchorus.htm (accessed on March 26, 2005).

"Red-banded rubber frog, Phrynomerus bifasciatus." http://www.calacademy.org/research/herpetology/frogs/list22.html (accessed on March 26, 2005).

"Tomato Frog." Woodland Park Zoo. http://www.zoo.org/educate/fact_sheets/day/tomato.htm (accessed on March 26, 2005).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceAmphibiansNarrow-Mouthed Frogs: Microhylidae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Wilhelm Rainforest Frog (cophixalus Riparius): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, NARROW-MOUTHED FROGS AND PEOPLE