AmphibiaWeb - Breviceps fuscus


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Breviceps fuscus Hewitt, 1925
Black rain frog
family: Brevicipitidae
genus: Breviceps
Breviceps fuscus
© 2023 Stuart Nielsen (1 of 9)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Least Concern (LC)
National Status None
Regional Status None


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Breviceps fuscus is a relatively small frog at about 40 - 51mm snout-vent length. Like most species of the genus, B. fuscus is a round frog with short limbs and toes, and a flattened, spade-like inner metatarsal that lacks a cutting edge (Hewett 1925; Channing 2001). The fourth finger is about 3mm long, and the free portion of the second finger about 3.5mm long. The second toe is considerably longer than the first toe, but only slightly longer than the fifth toe (no measurements given; Hewett 1925). The skin lacks warts, but has pronounced widely spaced granules or small tubercles and pitting (more so than in Breviceps gibbosus), particularly on the dorsal surface and around the face, which conceals the tympanum (Hewett 1925; Channing 2001).

Breviceps fuscus is typically dark brown or nearly black with a slightly lighter ventral surface and no pigmented patterns (Hewett 1925; Channing 2001).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: South Africa

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Breviceps fuscus was originally collected from a settlement (Knysna) on the southern coast of South Africa (Hewett 1925) and is endemic to the Cape Fold Mountains in the southern tip of South Africa. It occurs from sea level to just over 1000 m and is common on the floor of forests and heathlands on mountain slopes and plateaus (Carruthers and Robinson 1977; Branch and Hanekom 1987; Channing 2001; Minter et al. 2004).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Breviceps fuscus is a locally abundant burrowing frog, found in tunnels up to 150 mm deep or among vegetation up to about 30 cm above the ground; it is not usually in association with bodies of water (Channing 2001; Minter et al 2004).

The breeding season takes place during summer starting in October and lasting at least through February (Branch and Hanekom 1987; Channing 2001). Males call from within burrows, sometimes while guarding eggs, and above ground in vegetation using “a short chirp, 0.2s long, at a dominant frequency of 1.8kHz” (Channing 2001). Yellow eggs are laid within burrows with 15 mm openings about 30 – 40 mm deep in spherical nests about 30 mm across. Each nest consists of approximately 42 - 43 eggs that are 5 mm in diameter within 8 mm capsules. The nest is covered with a layer of 25 - 30 empty eggs cases on top (Channing 2001). Males continue to guard eggs in the nest while calling, until direct-developing froglets hatch (Channing 2001; Minter et al. 2004).

This species is eaten by the local bushpig Potamochoerus porcus (Channing 2001), and the colubrid snake Crotaphopeltis hotamboeia (Keogh et al. 2000).

Trends and Threats
Potential threats to Breviceps fuscus are loss of habitat due to invasive plants and wildfire, but much of the species' range is protected and its population is currently stable (Minter et al. 2004).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss

The species authority is Hewett, J. (1925). "Descriptions of three new toads belonging to the genus Breviceps Merrem." Annals of the Natal Museum, 2, 189-194.

The species epithet "fuscus" refers to the frog’s dark coloration (Channing 2001).


Branch, W. R. and Hanekom, N. (1987). The herpetofauna of the Tsiktsikamma Coastal and Forest National Parks. Koedoe, 30, 49-60.

Carruthers, V. C. and Robinson, G. A. (1977). ''Notes on Amphibia in the Tsiktsikamma National Parks.'' Koedoe, 20, 115-123.

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

Hewett, J. (1925). ''Descriptions of three new toads belonging to the genus Breviceps Merrem.'' Annals of the Natal Museum, 5, 189-194.

Keogh, S. J., Branch, W. R., and Shine, R. (2000). ''Feeding ecology, reproduction and sexual dimorphism in the colubrid snake Crotaphopeltis hotamboeia in southern Africa.'' African Journal of Herpetology, 49, 129-137.

Minter, L., Channing, A., Harrison, J. (2004). Breviceps fuscus. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. . Downloaded on 17 March 2013.

Originally submitted by: Lauren T. English (first posted 2013-07-08)
Edited by: David Cannatella and Ann T. Chang (2013-07-22)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2013 Breviceps fuscus: Black rain frog <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jul 23, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 23 Jul 2024.

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