AmphibiaWeb - Brevicipitidae
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Brevicipitidae

36 species in 5 genera

Commonly Called Rain Frogs


Breviceps adspersus
Photo by Thomas Eimermacher
(Click for family gallery)

Previously considered as part of the Microhylidae, there is now strong support that the five genera comprising the monophyletic Brevicipitidae, following Frost et al. (2006), are part of a larger lineage of African frogs including the Hemisotidae, Hyperoliidae and Brevicipitidae. Several studies confirm Brevicipitidae is the sister group of Hemisotidae.

All Brevicipitids are rounded in body and exhibit reductions in their skull. Breviceps is notable for its extreme difference in male and female body sizes. Male frogs are so much smaller and have such short limbs relative to their volume that they are unable to amplex. Instead, they have an adhesive secretion from the skin that allows males and females to "stick" together during mating. Roughly spherical clutches of eggs are deposited in subterranean chambers. All five genera are believed to have direct development in which fully metamorphosed young hatch directly from eggs.

Brevicipitids are restricted to the eastern and southern parts of sub-Saharan Africa, from Ethiopia south to Angola and South Africa.

Written by David Blackburn and AmphibiaWeb

Notable Family Characteristics

  • Terrestrial and fossorial
  • Found in forests and desert habitats
  • Direct development
  • Many species inflate their body when perturbed
  • Characters uniting this clade include: (1) lack of ossified sphenethmoids; (2) an extremely short head; (3) middle ear absent.
  • Distribution limited to the sub-Saharan Africa, from Ethiopia south to Angola and South Africa
Brevicipitidae Richness map

Cartography Credit: Zoe Yoo, UC Berkeley
Range maps sources: AmphibiaWeb, UC Berkeley, and IUCN RedList

Relevant Reference

Frost, D. R., T. Grant, J. Faivovich, R. H. Bain, A. Haas, C. F. B. Haddad, R. O. de Sá, A. Channing, M. Wilkinson, S. C. Donnellan, C. J. Raxworthy, J. A. Campbell, B. L. Blotto, P. E. Moler, R. C. Drewes, R. A. Nussbaum, J. D. Lynch, D. M. Green, and W. C. Wheeler. 2006. The amphibian tree of life. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 297: 1–370.

Pough, F. H., R. M. Andrews, M. L. Crump, A. H. Savitzky, K. D. Wells, and M. C. Brandley. 2015. Herpetology. Fourth Edition. Massachusetts: Sinauer.

Vitt, L. J., and J. P. Caldwell. 2013. Herpetology. An Introductory Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles. Fourth Edition. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Genus Balebreviceps (1 species)
Balebreviceps hillmani account no photos no sound/video

Genus Breviceps (19 species)
Breviceps acutirostris no account photos no sound/video
Breviceps adspersus account photos no sound/video
Breviceps bagginsi account no photos no sound/video
Breviceps branchi no account no photos no sound/video
Breviceps carruthersi no account photos no sound/video
Breviceps fichus no account no photos no sound/video
Breviceps fuscus account photos no sound/video
Breviceps gibbosus no account photos no sound/video
Breviceps macrops account photos no sound/video
Breviceps montanus no account photos no sound/video
Breviceps mossambicus no account photos no sound/video
Breviceps namaquensis no account photos no sound/video
Breviceps ombelanonga no account no photos no sound/video
Breviceps passmorei no account no photos no sound/video
Breviceps poweri no account photos no sound/video
Breviceps rosei no account photos no sound/video
Breviceps sopranus no account no photos no sound/video
Breviceps sylvestris account photos no sound/video
Breviceps verrucosus account photos no sound/video

Genus Callulina (9 species)
Callulina dawida no account photos no sound/video
Callulina hanseni no account photos no sound/video
Callulina kanga no account no photos no sound/video
Callulina kisiwamsitu no account photos no sound/video
Callulina kreffti no account photos no sound/video
Callulina laphami account photos no sound/video
Callulina meteora no account no photos no sound/video
Callulina shengena no account photos no sound/video
Callulina stanleyi no account photos no sound/video

Genus Probreviceps (6 species)
Probreviceps durirostris no account no photos no sound/video
Probreviceps loveridgei no account no photos no sound/video
Probreviceps macrodactylus no account photos no sound/video
Probreviceps rhodesianus no account no photos no sound/video
Probreviceps rungwensis no account no photos no sound/video
Probreviceps uluguruensis no account no photos no sound/video

Genus Spelaeophryne (1 species)
Spelaeophryne methneri no account no photos no sound/video


Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: https://amphibiaweb.org/. (Accessed:

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