Leiopelma hamiltoni
Hamilton's Frog
family: Leiopelmatidae

© 2004 Phil Bishop (1 of 6)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Vulnerable (VU)
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.

A small frog with snout-vent length up to 43 mm for males, 49 mm for females. Mostly brown, occasionally green. No or little webbing on the hind toes. No external eardrum (Gill and Whitaker 1996). Has defensive granular glands in skin, which are concentrated into discrete dorsal patches arranged down the back and sides in about six longitudinal rows. The middle row is the most prominent. The glands are also on the dorsal surface of legs and feet, and to a lesser extent, the arms (Green 1988).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: New Zealand


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
Stephens and Maud Islands in Marlborough Sounds area. Subfossil bones indicate the species used to be more widespread, in areas such as Waitoma, Hawkes Bay, Wairarapa and northwest Nelson areas (Gill and Whitaker 1996).

Terrestrial; can be found in coastal forest and deep boulder banks. Nocturnal; likes to take shelter in damp crevices by day (Gill and Whitaker 1996).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Call: No loud breeding call (Gill and Whitaker 1996). Squeak or chirp when annoyed, distressed, or during sexual activity. Has no true voice-box; dominant frequencies and overtones of call notes depend on resonance frequencies in head and body, not vibration frequency of vocal chords (Green 1988).

Defense: Can remain motionless for long periods of time. Assumes stiff-legged stance, rearing up and extending the legs (Green 1988).

Reproduction: Sometimes frogs, particularly males, occupy the oviposition sites for weeks or longer prior to the laying of eggs. Takes froglets at least 3 to 4 years to reach maturity. In their development, they have narrow tail fins, and only the base of the forelimbs is covered by the gular fold (Bell 1978).

Named after Harold Hamilton who first collected the species (Gill and Whitaker 1996).


Bell, B.D. (1978). ''Observations on the ecology and reproduction of the New Zealand native frogs.'' Herpetologica, 34, 340-354.

Gill, B., and Whitaker, T. (1996). New Zealand Frogs and Reptiles. David Bateman Limited, New Zealand.

Green, D. M. (1988). ''Antipredator behavior and skin glands in the New Zealand native frogs, genus Leiopelma.'' New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 15, 39-46.

Written by Chih Wang (chihwang AT, AmphibiaWeb
First submitted 2003-04-22

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2003 Leiopelma hamiltoni: Hamilton's Frog <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Sep 30, 2020.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2020. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 30 Sep 2020.

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