Scaphiophryne calcarata
family: Microhylidae
subfamily: Scaphiophryninae

© 1994 Miguel Vences and Frank Glaw (1 of 1)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN (Red List) Status Least Concern (LC)
Other International Status None
National Status None
Regional Status None



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A small to medium-sized burrowing frog; males 20-27 mm, females 28-33 mm. Back islight brown, with dark brown flanks. The border between colouration of the back and flanks very distinct, along a dorsilateral line. A colour morph with a narrow beige median dorsal line exists, as well as a uniformly light green morph. Venter whitish, sometimes with dark spots. Skin on the back ranges from smooth to slightly granular. Tympanum rather indistinct. Tibiotarsal articulation reaches the tympanum (females) or the eye (males). Fingertips are not enlarged. Finger 4 is as long as finger 1 and shorter than finger 2. A very large inner metatarsal tubercle, longer than the first toe. Hands are without webbing,and foot with a trace of webbing. Males have a black pigmented single subgular vocal sac.

One dissected female contained 465 white-brown eggs, diameter 1 mm. Tadpoles from Ampijoroa measure in stage 25: 7.5-9.5 mm in total length; in stage 38-40: 18-20 mm in total length. Their head and body are flattened above, ovoid below. The eyes are directed dorsilaterally. The mouth is terminal, the horny beak is rudimentary and labial teeth are not present. The lower lip has an extended flap, which is even richer in papillae than the remaining contour of the lips. The spiracle is mediosinistral. The tadpole is mainly transparent with some black pigmentation. They are mainly filter feeding tadpoles swimming in midwater, but also feed on larger particles. Juveniles measure 5.5-7.5 mm from snout to vent length. They are beige or green, and the dorsum is smoother than in adults.

The single note is an unharmonious screaming sound lasting 850-900 ms, and is repeated after 2200-2500 ms. Frequency ranges from 3 to 4.3 kHz. At a distance of some metres it becomes impossible to recognize single calls in the noise of a large chorus. On the sonagram the noise of such choruses shows a distinct, dense frequency band.
Scaphiophryne brevis is larger and usually lacks a distinct border between the back and flanks colouration. Confusion is also possible with Dyscophus insularis and some Plethodontohyla species.

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Madagascar


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Terra Typica: Madagascar; Maromandia; Andranoboka ; Mahajanga ; Andranolava ; Baly ; Ankarafantsika ; Ampijoroa ; Namoroka ; Ambongo ; Antsingy ; Bemamanga ; Andranohinaly ; Tolagnaro.
Observed at elevations from sea level to about 300 m.

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
A typical explosive breeder.Metamorphosis was completed, from stage 25 onwards in tadpoles, in 2.5-3.5 weeks. Calling males and couples in axillary amplexus were found (in December) at night after heavy rain in sun-exposed swamps in lowlands around Tolagnaro. Even in the city, a large number of specimens were observed. During drought it was impossible to find any specimens.

For references in the text, see here


Glaw, F. and Vences, M. (1994). Amphibians and Reptiles of Madagascar. M. Vences and F. Glaw Verlags GbR., Köln.

Written by Frank Glaw and Miguel Vences (m.vences AT, Assistant Professor and Curator of Vertebrates at the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics in the Zoological Museum at the University of Amsterdam
First submitted 2001-10-22
Edited by Rachna Tiwari (2010-07-19)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2010 Scaphiophryne calcarata <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Sep 26, 2020.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2020. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 26 Sep 2020.

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