Rana warszewitschii

Subgenus: Trypheropsis
family: Ranidae
Taxonomic Notes: This species is placed in Lithobates by some authors, following Frost et al., 2006. This has been a controversial decision, because such well-known species as Rana catesbeiana, with an enormous literature, are made more obscure to many. What is not controversial is that Lithobates is the sister taxon of Rana, so the argument is simply one of Linnean ranks. AmphibiaWeb recommends treating Lithobates as a subgenus of Rana, with species names to be written as Rana (Lithobates) catesbeiana, as an example. This option preserves the maximal amount of phylogenetic information and preserves a long-standing taxonomy.

© 2010 Sean Michael Rovito (1 of 40)

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Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Least Concern (LC)
See IUCN account.
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None


This is a smaller member of the palmipes group of frogs. (Hillis and de Sa 1988) Adult females have a maximum snout to vent length of 63 mm and adult males, 48 mm (Villa 1990). The head is pointed with a snout that is longer than it is wide. The tympanum is very evident in these frogs, but smaller than the eyes. The dorsal tubercles are reduced and the skin is smooth, Villa noted the presence of a very "fine, pearly" tubercle covering on the dorsum (Villa 1990). Color is variable, dorsal coloration ranges from bronze to metallic green and the brown variety may have green spots. They are darker laterally than dorsally and have a thin, light dorsolateral fold, border by darker stripes, the fold ends in the groin area. Ventral color varies from cream to dusky and the undersides of their limbs are distinctly red. Another very distinct marker on R. warszewitschii is the yellow spots found on both the posterior surface of the thighs and the axillae. The vocal slits and sacs are missing, along with Mullerian ducts in males. The first finger is larger than the second, and the fingers have greatly reduced webbing. The toes are, "2/3 webbed" as noted by Villa (Villa 1990), and are have expanded toe tips. Two metatarsal tubercles are present on each foot. (descriptions from Villa 1990 and Hillis and de Sa 1988).

The tadpoles are large (115mm), dark and heavily mottled on the tail and fins. They have a muscular tail and low tail fins (Villa 1990).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama

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This species is usually found on the forest floor in very humid environments from sea level to 2000m. They are common within their range from southeastern Honduras south and east to eastern Panama (Villa 1990; Hillis and De Sa 1988).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Rana warszewitschii and R. vibicaria are the only frogs from the palmipes group to vocalize without vocal slits or sacs. The calls of R. warszewitschii have been described as short and trilled and soft in sound (Hillis and De Sa 1988).

The name warszewitchii has gone through many misspellings, starting with its first describer. Schmidt, in the original description in 1857, used the spelling R. warszewitchii, but later in a subsequent detailed description in 1858 the spelling used was R. warschewitchii. The original spelling has been declared the correct spelling, according to the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (see Frost, 1999, Amphibian Species of the World, AMNH).

A Spanish-language species account can be found at the website of Instituto Nacional de Biodiversidad (INBio).


Hillis, D. M. and De Sa, R. (1988). ''Phylogeny and taxonomy of the Rana palmipes Group (Salientia: Ranidae).'' Herpetological Monographs, (2), 1-26.

Villa, J. D. (1990). ''Rana warszewitschii (Schmidt).'' Catalogue of American Amphibians and Reptiles. Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles, 459.1-459.2.

Written by Amy Jess (amyj AT, University of California, Berkeley
First submitted 1999-06-02
Edited by M. J. Mahoney (2009-11-02)

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. 2016. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: (Accessed: Jun 26, 2016).

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