A very small terrestrial microhylid; males 10-12 mm, one gravid female
measured 11 mm with a weight of less than 0.2 g. Back light brown, with some
small dispersed black patches. The upper jaw is usually with dark
pigmentation. Venter greyish. Skin on the back is smooth. Tympanum distinct,
tympanum/eye ratio is 1/3 - 2/5. Tibiotarsal articulation reaches the
tympanum. Four fingers, the inner finger reduced, and 5 toes, the inner
toe reduced. Males with a distinct, largely distensible, single subgular
vocal sac (Glaw and Vences 2007).
Similar species: Stumpffia tridactyla has extremely reduced fingers and toes. Other Stumpffia are larger with longer hindlimbs (Glaw and Venecs 2007).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Madagascar
Species is located in Nosy Be, Nosy Komba, Lokobe (Glaw and Vences 2007) from sea level up to 300 m asl (Vences and Andreone 2008).
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Habits: At Nosy Be, common in the leaf litter of secondary and primary forest, ylang-ylang cultivations and on road verges. Males call mainly in the late afternoon until sunset, during rainy weather also at night. One specimen, captured as adult, lived 3.5 years in a vivarium. In captivity, several foam nests were found which did not contain eggs but were guarded by calling males. In contrast to other foam-nest building frogs, in which the foam is produced during the amplexus, just before egg deposition, the foam nests of Stumpffia are possibly built only by the male. Three foam-nests were found, on 21 February 1992, in leaves on the forest floor. One contained 7 tadpoles and 5 embryos, another 8 tadpoles and 5 embryos and the third 4 tadpoles in stage 42. The tadpoles had a maximum total length of 8 mm. One of these tadpoles developed within 1.5 days into a froglet measuring less than 3 mm (SVL). To our knowledge this is the smallest known frog specimen in the world (Glaw and Vences 2007).
Calls: Regular series of chirping notes of high frequency (Glaw and Vences 2007).
Trends and Threats
Species is listed as vulnerable because it is known from only two locations (Vences and Andreone 2008).
Major Threats: High human population density and urbanization on the islands of Nosy Be and Nosy Komba are undoubtedly contributing to a reduction in the availability of suitable habitat. Any factors resulting in the loss of humid leaf-litter, such as expanding sugarcane cultivation, will be very detrimental for this species. Other possible threats include fires and pollution from agricultural pesticides (Vences and Andreone 2008).
Conservation Actions: It occurs in Rï¿½serve Naturelle Intï¿½grale de Lokobe on Nosy Be. There is a need for close population monitoring of this species given its very limited range (Vences and Andreone 2008).
Possible reasons for amphibian decline
General habitat alteration and loss
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Local pesticides, fertilizers, and pollutants
Taken with permission from Glaw and Vences (2007) and Vences and Andreone (2008).
Glaw, F., and Vences, M. (2007). Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. Third Edition. Vences and Glaw Verlag, Köln.
Vences, M. and Andreone, F. (2008). Stumpffia pygmaea. In: IUCN 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. www.iucnredlist.org. Downloaded on 22 April 2009.
Written by Miguel Vences and Frank Glaw (m.vences AT tu-bs.de), Assistant Professor and Curator of Vertebrates at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics in the Zoological Museum at the University of Amsterdam
First submitted 2001-10-29
Edited by Catherine Aguilar (2010-07-19)
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on
amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. 2015. Berkeley, California:
(Accessed: Aug 31, 2015).
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