AmphibiaWeb - Fritziana ulei
Fritziana ulei
family: Hemiphractidae
Species Description: Revalidation of Miranda-Ribeiro 1926 by Folly, Hepp, Carvalho-e-Silva, and Duellman, 2014, Zoologia, Curitiba, 31: 393
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status
National Status None
Regional Status None



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.

Fritziana ulei is a egg-brooding frog that was redescribed in 2014 based on the 1926 holotype and five newer specimens. The snout-vent length for males ranges from 19.2 - 26.9 mm, based on three specimens, and is 20.3 - 21 mm in females, based on two specimens. The head is almost the width of the body and slightly broad, with the head width being slightly wider than the length. From the dorsal view, the snout appears acuminate, and laterally, it appears to protrude. The tip of the snout also has a sharp vertical keel. Like other frogs in this genus, F. ulei has large, lateral nostrils, and narrow spaces between them. The canthus rostralis is rounded and distinct. The loreal region is concave. The eyes are large and the eye pupil is horizontal and relatively round. The tympanum is distinct and smaller than the width of the disk on the third finger. The supratympanic fold is also clearly visible and extends from the eye to the insertion of the arm (Folly et al. 2014).

The skin is mainly smooth dorsally, but has fine tubercles on the head. Females have dorsolateral folds that laterally borders and surround the brood pouch. When eggs are present, the folds expand dorsally and the dorsal pouch completely encompasses the eggs. The pouch opens longitudinally from a medial slit with the skin of the brood pouch laterally bordering eggs that are arranged in a rosette pattern. Males have single vocal sacs that are sub-gular. The skin around the cloaca is granular (Folly et al. 2014).

The arms are long and robust. The outer margins of the hands and arms are crenulated. The palmar tubercles are large. There is a variable number of large subarticular and small supernumerary tubercles on each finger. Finger I can have 3, 5, or 8 tubercles, finger II can have 2, - 5, finger III can have 4, 6, or 7, and finger IV has 2 subarticular tubercles and no supernumerary tubercles. The subarticular tubercles are not bifid. There is no webbing between the fingers. The relative length of the fingers are I < II < IV < III. The fingers have well developed discs on their tips. Nuptial pads are not described in any of the literature (Folly et al. 2014).

The hindlimbs are large with the outer margins of the thigh, tibia, knee, and tarsus being crenulated. There is also a variable number of subarticular and supernumerary tubercles on each toe. Toe I can have 3 or 5 tubercles, toe II can have 3 - 4, toe III can have 4, 5, or 7, and toe IV can have 6 - 7. The webbing formula is I - II2 - 3 III2½ - 3½ IV3½ - 2½ V with only vestigial webbing present between toes 1 – 2. The relative length of the toes are I < II < V < III < IV (Folly et al. 2014).

Fritziana ulei can be differeniated from other members of the genus based on patterning, tubercle shape, tympanum size, and brood pouch characters. The main distinguishing feature of F. ulei is the pentagonal/hexagonal interorbital pattern. Fritziana fissilis has an interorbital pattern that is hourglass or trapezoidal shaped. Fritziana goeldii also has an interorbital hourglass patten, but it extends onto the body. Fritziana ohausi has a marbled pattern dorsally and has stripes on the interorbital pattern connected to an open triangle marking. Fritziana fissilis and F. ulei also both have unmarked ventral surfaces, while F. goeldii and F. ohausi both have brown flecks. Fritziana ulei has circular shaped tubercles, similar to those of F. goeldii and F. ohausi. In comparison, F. fissilis has bifid distal subarticular tubercles. The size of the tympanum also differs between F. ulei and F. fissilis. In F. ulei, F. goeldii, and F. ohausi, the diameter of the tympanum is less than the diameter of the third finger disk. Contrastingly, in F. fissilis, the diameter of the tympanum is equal to or larger than the diameter of the third finger disk. Lastly, F. goeldii and F. ohausi have dorsal folds that do not cover the eggs in the brood patch in their entirety, leaving them exposed. The brood pouch of F. ulei encompasses all of the eggs, which are arranged symmetrically, whereas the eggs of F. fissilis are not arranged symmetrically (Folly et al. 2014).

In life, the dorsal coloration ranges from uniformly brown to more green dorsally with bronze only on the tip of the nose or on the nose and on the tips of their heels and forearms (Menegucci et al. 2017). Fritziana ulei also has a bronze pentagonal or hexagonal pattern between the eyes that often continues onto the eyelid and reaches the tympanum. The anterior edge of the hexagonal pattern is often near the tip of the nose, however, this is variable. The pattern is also bordered by a prominent, dark brown line. Fritziana ulei also has a dark brown line that extends from the eye to just past arm insertion, crossing the supratympanic fold. The ventrum is uniformly beige. The thighs, shanks, tibia, and forearms are usually beige with brown spots, but color is variable. The dorsal surfaces of the finger disks may be almost black in color (Folly et al. 2014). The iris is variable in color ranging from beige, to green and red (Menegucci et al. 2017).

When preserved, the interorbital pattern is beige and the border may fade, but is usually still visible. The brown spots present in life may be unrecognizable in preservation (Folly et al. 2014).

There is variation in the number of tubercles on the digits and on the coloration of individuals. Additionally, the anterior edge of the hexagonal/pentagonal pattern on the head has a variable position between the snout and the eyes. There did not appear to be any sexual dimorphism in regards to patterning or size. Instead, males can be recognized by the presence of vocal pouches. In some cases, females can also be recognized by the presence of a brooding pouch or brooding pouch folds on their backs (Folly et al. 2014).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Brazil


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
Fritziana ulei can be found in Southeastern Brazil. In the state of Rio de Janeiro, within the municipalities of Paratay (Menegucci et al. 2017), Resende, and Nova Friburgo (Folly et al. 2014). Additionally, they are found in the state of São Paulo, in the municipality of São José do Barreiro, Parque Nacional da Serra da Bocaína, and the municipality Ubatuba (Folly et al. 2014).

The elevation range for the species has been documented near sea level in coastal plains (Menegucci et al. 2017) to as high as 2200 meters (Folly et al. 2014). Fritziana ulei have been observed in bromeliads ranging from 150 cm to 250 cm off the ground, as well as in bromeliads in the forest canopy. The species has a range of occurrence of approximately 11,000 km2. Their habitat appears to be in tropical forests, more specifically, the Atlantic Forest, however, at least one specimen was collected in a backyard garden (Folly et al. 2014).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
The species has been documented on tropical terrestrial bromeliads. The species does not appear to associate with a body of water (Folly et al. 2014).

Like most of the species in the family Hemiphractidae, females of this species carry their eggs on their back. Female F. ulei have a dorsal pouch that completely encompasses the eggs, separated by a medial line that runs down the center of the folds and opens longitudinally. The females have been observed carrying between 8 (Menegucci et al. 2017) and 11 (Folly et al. 2014) eggs in a rosette shaped pattern on their back. It is believed that the larvae are nourished through an egg yolk and are thus endotrophic and non-feeding. These larvae are believed to be deposited onto bromeliads or bamboos, based on the behavior of other frogs in this genus (Folly et al. 2014).

Males have been documented calling, but the specific calls were not described (Menegucci et al. 2017).

Trends and Threats
Because of the limited data available on this species, as of 2019, F. ulei has not been assessed for the IUCN red list. While no assessment has been made, their known range is encompassed by the Atlantic Forest, a biome that is rapidly shrinking in size, and as of now only 15% of the original forest cover remains. Because of this, F. ulei may be at risk for serious habitat loss (Menegucci et al. 2017).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Habitat modification from deforestation, or logging related activities
Habitat fragmentation

The species authority is: Miranda-Ribeiro, A. de. (1926). “Notas para servirem ao estudo dos Gymnobatrachios (Anura) Brasileiros.” Arquivos do Museu Nacional. Rio de Janeiro 27: 1–227.

This species was originally placed in the genus, Flectonotus, but was moved to Fritziana based on osteology and resurrected as a unique species in 2014 based on morphology. Between 1966 and 2014, the species was thought to be synonymous with F. fissilis (Folly et al. 2014).

The species epithet “ulei” was given in honor of the holotype collector, botanist Ernesto Ule (Folly et al. 2014).

Individuals in the family Hemiphractidae are known as the ‘marsupial frogs,’ because they carry the developing eggs and larvae on their backs—either in a pouch or otherwise attached (Folly et al. 2014).


Folly, M, Hepp, F, Carvalho-e-Silva, SP, Duellman, WE. (2014). ''Taxonomic status and redescription of Flectonotus ulei (Anura: Hemiphractidae), with a key for the species of Fritziana.'' Zoologia (Curitiba), 31(4), 393-399. [link]

Menegucci, RC, Gaiga, R, Machado, IF. (2017). ''Fritziana ulei (Miranda-Ribeiro, 1926): geographic extension, with comments on the natural history of this species.'' Check List, 13(2), 2061. [link]

Originally submitted by: Giulia B. de Gennaro (first posted 2019-03-13)

Edited by: Ann T. Chang (2019-03-13)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2019 Fritziana ulei <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Apr 17, 2021.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2021. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 17 Apr 2021.

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