Hemisus guttatus (Rapp, 1842)
Spotted Snout-Burrower, Spotted Shovel-nosed Frog, Spotted Burrowing Frog
© 2010 Division of Herpetology, University of Kansas (1 of 1)
The tadpole of Hemisus guttatus reaches 62 mm in length, with a body of 21 mm and tail of 41 mm (Wager, 1965). It is brown to olive-brown in color, with gray under the chin and a white belly (Wager, 1965). The tail is broad with a distinctive cream stripe on either side (Rose, 1950). The first third to half of the tail has a thickened sheath (Channing, 2003), looking almost as though the tail has been broken off and regenerated there; in this thickened section, the center portion horizontally is enlarged and darkened (Wager, 1965). When the tadpole reaches 25 mm in length, the posterior half of the tail and fins darkens to black. The jaws are keratinized, with 2 complete and 4 divided rows of denticles above the jaws and three complete rows below the jaws, and a tooth formula of 6(3-6)/3. The mouth has 3 to 4 rows of small papillae at the sides, plus 2 rows of papillae below, and an additional 6 larger papillae below. The head rapidly changes to being pointed when the front legs are formed (Wager, 1965).
Distribution and Habitat
Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: South Africa
Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
The male grasps the female in amplexus as the female digs a burrow in wet soil, with the female then dragging the amplectant pair inside the burrow. After mating, the female lays a clutch of about 200 eggs in jelly capsules, within the burrow (Channing, 2003). (Although Wager (1965) says the clutch is 2000 eggs, the photo in his book looks more like 200.) The eggs are deposited in a compact mass approximately 15 cm (8 inches) below the surface, in a chamber or cavity. The cavity has smoothened walls and is about 3 inches in diameter (Wager, 1965). Several layers of empty, hard, transparent jelly capsules are laid on top of the clutches, to help protect the eggs from desiccation (Channing, 2003) and perhaps from the weight of the mother frog (Wager, 1965). The nest of eggs is nearly the same diameter as the large female frog (photo in Wager, 1965), at 2.5 inches in diameter and 1.25 inches in thickness. Females remain with the eggs (Channing, 2003). Once the eggs are ready to hatch, at 12 days, the female digs a tunnel towards and into the water (Wager, 1965). The tadpoles are very active (Rose, 1950; Wager, 1965) and wriggle their way down the tunnel to reach the water (Wager, 1965). Also, when the pond fills with rainwater, the burrows fill and the tadpoles may be transported to the pond by the rising water (Channing, 2003). Tadpoles of this species do not have external gills, but do possess a well-vascularized venter, which likely functions for oxygen absorption (Wager, 1965). They are able to live out of water for at least two weeks (Wager, 1965). Tadpoles of the related Hemisus marmoratum are able to survive out of the water for seventeen days (Wager, 1965).
The adult diet consists of termites and earthworms (Channing, 2003).
Trends and Threats
Channing, A. (2003). ''Spotted snout-burrower, Hemisus guttatus.'' Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Volume 6, Amphibians. 2nd edition. M. Hutchins, W. E. Duellman, and N. Schlager, eds., Gale Group, Farmington Hills, Michigan.
Passmore, N. and Carruthers, V. (1995). South African Frogs, a Complete Guide. Witwatersrand University Press, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Rose, W. (1950). The Reptiles and Amphibians of Southern Africa. Maskew Miller, Limited, Cape Town.
Wager, V. A. (1965). The Frogs of South Africa. Purnell and Sons, Cape Town, South Africa.
Originally submitted by: Peera Chantasirivisal (first posted 2005-11-03)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker (2008-01-09)
Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2008 Hemisus guttatus: Spotted Snout-Burrower <https://amphibiaweb.org/species/1511> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed May 29, 2023.
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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2023. <https://amphibiaweb.org> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 29 May 2023.
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