AmphibiaWeb - Arthroleptis stenodactylus


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Arthroleptis stenodactylus Pfeffer, 1893
Common Squeaker, Shovel Footed Squeaker, Dune Squeaker, Savanna Squeaking Frog, Umanswininiza onyawo zingamafosholo (Zulu)
family: Arthroleptidae
genus: Arthroleptis
Species Description: Pfeffer, G. (1893). Ostafrikanische Reptilien und Amphibien, gesammelt von Herrn Dr. F. Stuhlmann im Jahre 1888 und 1889. Jahrbuch der Hamburgischen Wissenschaftlichen Anstalten 10: 69–105.
Arthroleptis stenodactylus
© 2006 John Measey (1 of 14)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Least Concern (LC)
National Status None
Regional Status None


Berkeley mapper logo

View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
amphibiandisease logo View Bd and Bsal data (16 records).

Arthroleptis stenodactylus is known as the Common Squeaker, Shovel Footed Squeaker, or the Dune Squeaker (Minter et al. 2004). The male reaches up to 33 mm in length, and has a dark throat. It also has small spines on its back and limbs, a narrower head than the female, and an elongated third finger that grows quickly after it reaches sexual maturity. The female reaches up to 44 mm, and has a white throat with some pectoral spots. This species is heavily built with relatively short rear legs. Each hind foot has an inner metatarsal tubercle shaped like the edge of a shovel (thus giving rise to one of this frog's common names: Shovel Footed Squeaker). The soles of the feet are dark, and the toes are unwebbed. The ground color is brown. Dorsal patterning features include a pair of dark spots near the sacrum, a dark line on each side running from the snout over the tympanum to the shoulder, and various combinations of 3-lobed dorsal bands. There is also sometimes a light vertebral line. Ventral patterning ranges from heavily speckled to none (Channing 2001).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Angola, Botswana, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, United Republic of, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Berkeley mapper logo

View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
amphibiandisease logo View Bd and Bsal data (16 records).
Arthroleptis stenodactylus occurs at least up to 1500 m (IUCN, 2006). In Malawi this species can be found at altitudes ranging from 40-2000 m (Channing 2001). Its primary habitat consists of dry forests with ample bushes and trees (Stewart 1967), but it can make use of a wide variety of other habitats such as thickets, savannah woodland, and suburban gardens (IUCN 2006).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
This frog is terrestrial, living in leaf litter. It is common within its range, but it is far more often heard than seen. Males call from hiding places in leaf litter and vegetation. The call consists of a high pitched, loud, metallic “squeak”, repeated at half-second intervals. A recording of the call can be found here. It has been reported that this call sounds similar to Hyperolius marmoratus, the Marbled Reed Frog (Channing 2001).

The breeding season is between December and February. Females deposit eggs in burrows or small depressions in damp earth, under cover or bushes. Egg clutches consist of 33-80 eggs which are creamy white in color and approximately 2 mm in diameter. This species has direct development; there are no free swimming tadpoles (Channing 2001).

Arthroleptis stenodactylus becomes most active late in the day (Stewart 1967). This frog eats a variety of insects and other arthropods, along with snails, earthworms, and other frogs. It is preyed upon by many types of snakes including the Olive Marsh snake Natriciteres olivacea and the Green Water snake Philothamnus hoplogaster, as well as other frogs (Channing 2001).

It has been reported to hibernate in low-branched trees (Passmore and Carruthers 1995).

Trends and Threats
This species is not threatened.

Relation to Humans
The Common Squeaker Frog is found in gardens as well as natural vegetation (Channing 2001).

The species name stenodactylus refers to the elongated third finger of mature males (Channing, 2001).


Channing, A. (2001). Amphibians of Central and Southern Africa. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.

IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe. 2006. Global Amphibian Assessment. Accessed on 18 July 2007.

Minter, L.R., Burger, M., Harrison, J.A., Braack, H.H., Bishop, P.J., and Kloepfer, D. (eds.) (2004). Atlas and Red Data Book of the Frogs of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Volume 9 SI/MAB Series. Smithsonian, Washington D.C..

Passmore, N. and Carruthers, V. (1995). South African Frogs, a Complete Guide. Witwatersrand University Press, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Phaka, F.M., Netherlands, E.C., Kruger, D.J.D., Du Preez, L.H. (2019). Folk taxonomy and indigenous names for frogs in Zululand, South Africa. J Ethnobiology Ethnomedicine 15, 17. [link]

Stewart, M.M. (1967). The Amphibians of Malawi. State University of New York Press, New York.

Originally submitted by: Rupi Mudan (first posted 2005-11-01)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker (2023-05-31)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2023 Arthroleptis stenodactylus: Common Squeaker <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed May 28, 2024.

Feedback or comments about this page.


Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 28 May 2024.

AmphibiaWeb's policy on data use.