AmphibiaWeb - Pipidae
AMPHIBIAWEB

Pipidae

41 species in 4 genera

Commonly Called Tongueless Frogs, African Clawed Frogs, Suriname Toad


Pipa pipa
Photo by Hugo Classen
(Click for family gallery)

Members of this family can be found in almost every kind of water body in Africa and South America. Two members of the genus Xenopus have become model lab organisms (the tetraploid Xenopus laevis and more recently the smaller, diploid Xenopus tropicalis), due to their hardiness and ability to be easily maintained in a laboratory, as well as ease of inducing ovulation and mating year-round by gonadotropin injection. The early development of Xenopus laevis has been studied by developmental biologists for over a hundred years.

These frogs lack a tongue, have dorsoventrally flattened bodies, fully webbed hind feet, small dorsally placed eyes, and retain a lateral line system. Tadpoles resemble small catfish due to their paired anterior barbells (absent in Hymenochirus whose tadpoles are carnivorous). Males in this family lack vocal cords but are able to communicate underwater via "clicking" sounds generated through a modified laryngeal apparatus. The Surinam Toad, Pipa pipa, amplexes (mates) in a circular motion underwater, allowing for the eggs to be deposited on the female's back. The fertilized eggs are later enveloped by skin and complete their development within the female's dorsal skin, so that eventually froglets emerge fully formed.

Written by AmphibiaWeb

Notable Family Characteristics

  • Aquatic, living a variety of water bodies, such as lakes, ponds, and streams
  • Males lack vocal cords and vocal sacs, but some are known to snap their hyoid apparatus and produce clicking sounds underwater
  • Tadpoles may be free-living and resemble small catfish due to their paired anterior barbells (Xenopus), or lack barbells and carnivorous (Hymenochirus), or deposited on females back until hatching as metamorphosed froglets (Pipa)
  • Morphological characters include: 1) epipubis present; 2) unpaired epipubic muscle; 3) quadratojugal absent; 4) free ribs in larvae; 5) sacrococcygeal articulation fused; 6) short, stocky sacrum; 7) elongate septomaxillae; 8) lateral line system present in adults; 9) tongues absent; 10) non-pedicellate teeth in Xenopus and some Pipa (other Pipa are edentate, i.e., with very few or no teeth); 10) fully webbed hindfoot; 11) small dorsally oriented eyes; 12) skull palatines absent, single frontoparietal
  • Distribution limited to parts of Africa and South America
Pipidae Richness map

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

Relevant Reference

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 Hymenochirus (4 species)
Hymenochirus boettgeri account photos no sound/video
Hymenochirus boulengeri no account no photos no sound/video
Hymenochirus curtipes no account photos no sound/video
Hymenochirus feae no account no photos no sound/video

Genus Pipa (7 species)
Pipa arrabali no account photos no sound/video
Pipa aspera no account photos no sound/video
Pipa carvalhoi account photos no sound/video
Pipa myersi account photos no sound/video
Pipa parva account photos sound/video
Pipa pipa account photos no sound/video
Pipa snethlageae no account no photos no sound/video

Genus Pseudhymenochirus (1 species)
Pseudhymenochirus merlini no account photos no sound/video

Genus Xenopus (29 species)
Xenopus (Silurana) calcaratus no account no photos sound/video
Xenopus (Silurana) epitropicalis no account photos sound/video
Xenopus (Silurana) mellotropicalis no account no photos sound/video
Xenopus (Silurana) tropicalis account photos sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) allofraseri no account photos sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) amieti no account photos sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) andrei no account no photos sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) borealis no account photos no sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) boumbaensis no account no photos sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) clivii no account no photos sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) eysoole no account photos sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) fischbergi no account no photos sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) fraseri account photos no sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) gilli account photos sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) itombwensis no account no photos sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) kobeli no account photos sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) laevis account photos sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) largeni no account no photos sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) lenduensis account photos sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) longipes account photos no sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) muelleri account photos no sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) parafraseri no account photos sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) petersii no account photos no sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) poweri no account photos sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) pygmaeus no account no photos no sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) ruwenzoriensis no account no photos no sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) vestitus no account no photos sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) victorianus no account photos sound/video
Xenopus (Xenopus) wittei no account no photos sound/video


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

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