4 minute read

Parsley Frogs: Pelodytidae

Parsley Frog (pelodytes Punctatus): Species Account

Physical characteristics: Also known as the common parsley frog or mud-diver, adults of this species are thin, somewhat flattened frogs. They have brown, light brownish green, or gray backs with dark green blotches and have numerous, small warts. The belly and the throat are whitish, and the underside of their legs is yellow-colored. They have a thin, black stripe on each side of the head from the snout, through the middle of the eye, and to the foreleg, as well as dark blotches on the upper lip. Their eyes are large and copper-colored and have vertical pupils. They do not have obvious eardrums showing on the sides of the head. Their forelegs are smaller and thinner than their hind legs, and all four limbs are brown with green blotches. The parsley frog has long toes. The toes on the front feet have no The warts on the skin of parsley frogs contain a bad-tasting poison, which is useful if a predator happens to catch and try to eat one. (Illustration by Bruce Worden. Reproduced by permission.) webbing between them, and the toes on the back feet have only a little webbing at the bottom. Adults grow to 1.4 to 1.8 inches (3.5 to 4.5 centimeters) from the tip of the snout to the end of the rump. The tadpole is greenish brown with noticeable dark eyes. It has an oval-shaped head and body and a long tail. Tadpoles can reach 1.6 to 2.6 inches (4 to 6.5 centimeters) long from head to tail before they change into froglets.

Geographic range: The common parsley frog lives in southwestern Europe, including Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal.

Habitat: The common parsley frog lives in many habitats, including forests, shrubby woods, and farmland, that either have very damp ground or are near a pond or stream. They mate in streams and small ponds.

Diet: It eats insects and other small invertebrates.

Behavior and reproduction: During the day, these frogs hide under stones or in small dips or holes in the ground, but they sometimes will venture out during or after a good rain. They become active from dusk to dawn. Animals that are active only at sunup and sundown are crepuscular (kreh-PUSS-kyoo-ler). Animals active at night are called nocturnal (nahk-TER-nuhl). Using these terms, the parsley frog is both crepuscular and nocturnal. The parsley frogs that live in warmer areas are active almost all year long. Those that live in cooler areas may survive the winter by hibernating. Some hibernate from October to February or March.

When outside from dawn to dusk, the frogs protect themselves from predators in several ways. The colors of the back and head help blend them into the background and make them less noticeable to predators. If a predator does approach them on land, however, they are excellent jumpers and can often leap away. When they are near the water, they will jump in and swim. Although their hind feet do not have much webbing to help boost them through the water, they are still good swimmers. If a predator happens to catch a parsley frog, the warts in its skin ooze a mild poison that may taste bad enough to convince the predator to leave the frog alone.

Their mating season usually begins in the spring, but if the weather is right, they may mate almost any time of year, including the summer and fall. The male's call sounds a bit like a heavy, old door quietly creaking open. Females lay about 50 to 100 eggs at a time and may lay as many as 1,000 to 1,600 eggs a year in small strings or clumps. The eggs are tiny and brown and coated with a thick, see-through gel. The eggs stick to underwater plants and stems and hatch into tadpoles that may grow to be larger than the adult frogs.

Parsley frogs and people: Like most other frogs, this species eats insects that people may consider pests.

Conservation status: This species is not generally considered to be at risk, but Belgium, France, and other countries have listed it as Endangered or Vulnerable. In these areas, the numbers of parsley frogs have declined because of habitat destruction, especially the draining of water. ∎



Arnold, E. Nicholas. Reptiles and Amphibians of Europe (Princeton Field Guides). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003.

Arnold, E. N., J. A. Burton, and D. W. Ovenden. Reptiles and Amphibians of Britain & Europe (Collins Field Guide). London: HarperCollins, 1999.

Duellman, William E., and Linda Trueb. Biology of Amphibians. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.

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

Zug, George R., Laurie J. Vitt, and Janalee P. Caldwell. Herpetology. 2nd edition. San Diego: Academic Press, 2001.

Web sites:

"Dramatic Declines for European Amphibians." IUCN press release. http://www.countdown2010.net/documents/european%20frog%20and%20toad-2.pdf (accessed on February 14, 2005).

Heying, H. "Pelodytidae" Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Pelodytidae.html (accessed on February 14, 2005).

"Iberian Parsley Frog." Amphibians and Reptiles of Europe. http://www.herp.it/indexjs.htm?SpeciesPages/PelodIberi.htm (accessed on February 14, 2005).

"Parsley Frog, Common Parsley Frog, Mud-diver." Amphibians and Reptiles of Europe. http://www.herp.it/indexjs.htm?SpeciesPages/PelodPunct.htm (accessed on February 14, 2005).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceAmphibiansParsley Frogs: Pelodytidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Parsley Frog (pelodytes Punctatus): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, PARSLEY FROGS AND PEOPLE