AmphibiaWeb - Leptopelis bocagii


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Leptopelis bocagii (Günther, 1865)
Bocage's Tree Frog
family: Arthroleptidae
genus: Leptopelis

© 1998 Miguel Vences and Frank Glaw (1 of 6)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Least Concern (LC)
National Status None
Regional Status None



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
View Bd and Bsal data (10 records).

A large fossorial form (males to 50 mm, females to 58 mm) from the eastern and southern savannas at higher altitudes. Very reduced webbing and no, or very small, discs. Males with pectoral glands. The interorbital distance versus the nostril-tympanum distance is smaller (less than 36%) than in the similar L. parbocagii (greater than 36%). Dorsum brown with a dark 'n'- or 'm'-shaped blotch, or with a uniformly darkened dorsal patch which sometimes covers the whole head. Juveniles have a uniform green to brown-green dorsum.

Distribution and Habitat

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


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
View Bd and Bsal data (10 records).
Distribution may extend from Ethiopia southwards to northern Namibia and Zimbabwe, and possibly into northern Transvaal (Northern Province). Leptopelis bocagii is seldom seen although it can occur in great numbers at the start of the rainy season. It is terrestrial and fossorial, and probably spends the greater part of the year buried underground.

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
The eggs are laid in deep holes underground.

Largen (1977) describes the call as a low "cluck", distinctly deeper and quieter that the voice of L. gramineus. Schiøtz (1975) has described the voice as an unmelodic, slow "waab", sometimes two in succession. Although this species usually calls from the ground there are a few reports of males calling from low vegetation. This has been reported by Poynton and Broadley (1987) from Zimbabwe, and again in the case of the aberrant green Leptopelis from Kakamega, Kenya, described above.


The name L. bocagii is used for a ground-dwelling, fossorial Leptopelis from the eastern and southern savannas and grasslands. It is probable that this name covers more than one species, and all students of this form seem to believe that several cryptic species are involved. One form (L. parbocagii) has recently been separated from the complex. Several subspecies have been described, but our understanding of the geographical and non-geographical variation is too incomplete to recognise subspecies at this stage, either within this form or within the bewildering complex of savanna-living Leptopelis in the southern part of Africa. In Kakamega Forest, Kenya, a peculiar Leptopelis occurs in clearings in the forest. In morphology it seems identical to L. bocagii but the ground colour is green, not brown. It cannot be decided whether this form deserves recognition as a separate subspecies or species.

Amiet (2004) reports on a Leptopelis cf. bocagii from a number of localities in northern Cameroun. His reluctance to refer his specimens firmly to L. bocagii Günther derives from his doubt about the identity of Günther's type specimen, now lost, moreover that several species may be involved in the complex, including L. mossambicus and L. parbocagii. The call, a two-syllable "wa-la", and the calling position on branches seem, however, to distinguish L. mossambicus from the group. Amiet (2004) provides a sonogram and photos for L. cf. bocagii.

This account was taken from "Treefrogs of Africa" by Arne Schiøtz with kind permission from Edition Chimaira publishers, Frankfurt am Main. Updated by A. Schiøtz, 2008.


Amiet, J.-L. (2004). ''A propos de deux Leptopelis nouveaux pour la faune du Cameroun.'' Alytes, 21(3-4), 111-170.

Largen, M. J. (1977). ''The status of the genus Leptopelis (Amphibia Anura Hyperoliidae) in Ethiopia, including descriptions of two new species.'' Monitore Zoologico Italiano, N.S. Supplemento, 9, 85-136.

Poynton, J. C. and Broadley, D. G. (1987). ''Amphibia Zambesiaca 3. Rhacophoridae and Hyperoliidae.'' Annals of the Natal Museum, 28, 161-229.

Schiøtz, A. (1975). The Treefrogs of Eastern Africa. Steenstrupia, Copenhagen.

Schiøtz, A. (1999). Treefrogs of Africa. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt am Main.

Originally submitted by: Arne Schiøtz (first posted 2001-02-07)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker (2008-09-30)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2008 Leptopelis bocagii: Bocage's Tree Frog <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Feb 21, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 21 Feb 2024.

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