Color is brown to grey having small spots. Tongueless, tapered heads. Eyes lidless, circular, and flat. Long-legged, claws on rear feet. Looks simliar to H. curtipes but H. curtipes has wartier skin. Females reach a larger size than males (up to 35 mm), have a longer tail and also have a more stout abdominal region. The posteriorlateral portion on the head of a male has a swollen appearance due to a large orbiculate tympanum (2.5 mm). Orbiculate tympanus in males is twice as large as in females. Males also have a post axillary subdermal gland which appears as a whitish spot on the surface of the skin. The post-axillary subdermal gland is located on the back of the front leg. The gland enlarges during periods of sexual activity. Females lay eggs with a diamter of about 1.3 mm (Rabb 1963).
Tadpoles have spinose tubercules on the sides of thigh. Silvery iridocytes on a gray dorsum and a weakly pigmented tail. The iridocytes may be golden or silver. The tail has a longitudinal arrangement of dark coloration where melanophores surround the aorta, caudal vein, and the top and bottom of the caudal musculature. Golden iridocytes are also found on the top of the caudal muscles. The tail fin is pigmentless (Rabb 1963).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Cameroon, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the, Gabon, Nigeria
Nigeria, Cameroon through Zaire Basin to east Zaire.
The best conditions for H. boettgeri are at a pH of 7.6 to 7.8 and a temperature of 25 degrees Celsius (Rabb 1963).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Both adults and tadpoles of this species are predatory suction feeders (Deban 2002).
Only males sing. Males can mate throughout the year under laboratory settings. Amplexus occurs at night and can last several hours. After the female has laid all the eggs, she will signal the male by going motionless. As Hymenochirus boettgeri progresses through metamorphosis it losses the ability to regenerate hind-limb structures in the proximal-distal region of the limb. Loss of limb is more easily regenerated if it occurs more distally (Girvan 2002).
In development, ossification occurs relatively early in comparison to other pipid species (Olson 2000).
Relation to Humans
H. boettgeri is a common frog in aquarium trade and is often kept as a household "aquarium pet". The preservation of this species may in fact be due to artificial breeding. H. boettgeri was also introduced in Florida non-indigenously.
See Steve Deban's video of a H. boettgeri tadpole feeding.
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Deban, S. M., and Olson, W. M. (2002). ''Suction feeding by a tiny predator tadpole.'' Nature (London), 420(6911), 41-42.
Girvan, J. E., and Olson, W. M., and Hall, B. K. (2002). ''Hind-limb regeneration in the dwarf African clawed frog, Hymenochirus boettgeri (Anura: Pipidae).'' Journal of Herpetology, 36(4), 537-543.
Olson, W. M. (2000). ''Phylogeny, ontogeny, and function: Extraskeletal bones in the tendons and joints of Hymenochirus boettgeri (Amphibia: Anura: Pipidae).'' Zoology, 103(1-2), 15-24.
Rabb, G. B. and Rabb, M. S. (1963). ''On the behavior and breeding biology of the African pipid frog Hymenochirus boettgeri.'' Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie, 20(2), 215-241.
Written by Veronica Garza (vgarza AT berkeley.edu), URAP
First submitted 2004-03-23
Edited by Tate Tunstall (2010-04-26)
Feedback or comments about this page.
Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on
amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. 2016. Berkeley, California:
(Accessed: Feb 5, 2016).
AmphibiaWeb's policy on data use.