AmphibiaWeb - Pyxicephalidae
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Pyxicephalidae

87 species in 12 genera

Commonly Called African Bullfrogs, Sand Frogs, Moss Frogs


Pyxicephalus edulis
Photo by Peter Janzen
(Click for family gallery)

This family is organized into two subfamilies, Pyxicephalinae and Cacosterninae; the former are large, stocky, robust frogs while the latter are small and slender. These species span a variety of habitats; in general, the Pyxicephalinae species occur in grasslands and are terrestrial while Cacosterninae species can be found in forests and may be semi-arboreal with the exception of Tomopterna, which are semi-fossorial frogs.

News Highlight:
June 27, 2016: To gain a better understanding of the African genus Amietia, which is currently composed of 16 cryptic species, Larson et al. (2016) recently analyzed the genus using newly collected samples from The Albertine Rift, which is home to five Amietia species, and published species sequences. They showed that Amietia is monophyletic, diverged in the late-Oligocene to early-Miocene (17.44–31.97 mya), and contains more species than previously thought. Amongst the 79 samples collected, a known vertebrate biodiversity hotspot, they found six undescribed species. All of the new species were found in unprotected land and all the Amietia species in the Rift are currently threatened by political instability, habitat loss, and chytridiomycosis. Although political instability makes it difficult for researchers to gain access to areas where these undescribed species exist, the researchers are optimistic that more undescribed species can be found there and urge future surveys and conservation efforts in the area.
Written by AmphibiaWeb

Notable Family Characteristics

  • Occurs in a variety of habitats from savannah, grasslands, and scrub to rocky streams in forests
  • Displays a variety of reproductive modes including laying eggs and free-living tadpoles to direct development, e.g., Arthroleptella are known to lay eggs which hatch into nonfeeding tadpoles that metamorphose into small froglets almost immediately
  • Species may be terrestrial, semi-arboreal or semi-fossorial
  • Many species are explosive breeders, appearing en masse after heavy rainfall
  • Distribution throughout sub-Saharan Africa
Pyxicephalidae Richness map

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

Relevant Reference

Bossuyt, F., R. M. Brown, D. M. Hillis, D. C. Cannatella, and M. C. Milinkovitch. 2006. Phylogeny and biogeography of a cosmopolitan frog radiation: Late Cretaceous diversification resulted in continent-scale endemism in the family Ranidae. Systematic Biology 55: 579–594.

Channing, A., Hendricks, D., and Dawood, A. (1994). ''Description of a new moss frog from the south-western Cape (Anura: Ranidae: Arthroleptella).'' South African Journal of Zoology, 29(4), 240-243.

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

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

Subfamily Cacosterninae (80 species)

Genus Amietia (16 species)    [subfamily Cacosterninae]
Amietia angolensis no account photos no sound/video
Amietia chapini no account no photos no sound/video
Amietia delalandii no account photos no sound/video
Amietia desaegeri no account no photos no sound/video
Amietia fuscigula no account photos no sound/video
Amietia hymenopus no account photos no sound/video
Amietia inyangae no account no photos no sound/video
Amietia johnstoni no account no photos no sound/video
Amietia moyerorum account no photos no sound/video
Amietia nutti no account photos no sound/video
Amietia poyntoni no account photos no sound/video
Amietia ruwenzorica no account no photos no sound/video
Amietia tenuoplicata no account photos no sound/video
Amietia vandijki no account no photos no sound/video
Amietia vertebralis no account photos no sound/video
Amietia wittei no account photos no sound/video

Genus Anhydrophryne (3 species)    [subfamily Cacosterninae]
Anhydrophryne hewitti no account no photos no sound/video
Anhydrophryne ngongoniensis account no photos no sound/video
Anhydrophryne rattrayi no account photos no sound/video

Genus Arthroleptella (10 species)    [subfamily Cacosterninae]
Arthroleptella atermina no account no photos no sound/video
Arthroleptella bicolor no account no photos no sound/video
Arthroleptella draconella account no photos no sound/video
Arthroleptella drewesii account photos no sound/video
Arthroleptella kogelbergensis no account no photos no sound/video
Arthroleptella landdrosia no account no photos no sound/video
Arthroleptella lightfooti no account no photos no sound/video
Arthroleptella rugosa no account no photos no sound/video
Arthroleptella subvoce no account no photos no sound/video
Arthroleptella villiersi no account no photos no sound/video

Genus Cacosternum (17 species)    [subfamily Cacosterninae]
Cacosternum aggestum no account no photos no sound/video
Cacosternum australis no account no photos no sound/video
Cacosternum boettgeri no account photos no sound/video
Cacosternum capense no account no photos no sound/video
Cacosternum karooicum account no photos no sound/video
Cacosternum kinangopensis no account no photos no sound/video
Cacosternum leleupi no account no photos no sound/video
Cacosternum namaquense no account photos no sound/video
Cacosternum nanogularum no account no photos no sound/video
Cacosternum nanum no account photos no sound/video
Cacosternum parvum no account no photos no sound/video
Cacosternum platys no account photos no sound/video
Cacosternum plimptoni no account photos no sound/video
Cacosternum poyntoni no account no photos no sound/video
Cacosternum rhythmum no account no photos no sound/video
Cacosternum striatum no account no photos no sound/video
Cacosternum thorini no account no photos no sound/video

Genus Microbatrachella (1 species)    [subfamily Cacosterninae]
Microbatrachella capensis account photos no sound/video

Genus Natalobatrachus (1 species)    [subfamily Cacosterninae]
Natalobatrachus bonebergi no account photos no sound/video

Genus Nothophryne (5 species)    [subfamily Cacosterninae]
Nothophryne baylissi no account no photos no sound/video
Nothophryne broadleyi no account no photos no sound/video
Nothophryne inagoensis no account no photos no sound/video
Nothophryne ribauensis no account no photos no sound/video
Nothophryne unilurio no account no photos no sound/video

Genus Poyntonia (1 species)    [subfamily Cacosterninae]
Poyntonia paludicola account photos no sound/video

Genus Strongylopus (10 species)    [subfamily Cacosterninae]
Strongylopus bonaespei no account no photos no sound/video
Strongylopus fasciatus no account photos no sound/video
Strongylopus fuelleborni no account no photos no sound/video
Strongylopus grayii no account photos no sound/video
Strongylopus kilimanjaro no account no photos no sound/video
Strongylopus kitumbeine no account no photos no sound/video
Strongylopus merumontanus no account no photos no sound/video
Strongylopus rhodesianus no account no photos no sound/video
Strongylopus springbokensis account no photos no sound/video
Strongylopus wageri no account no photos no sound/video

Genus Tomopterna (16 species)    [subfamily Cacosterninae]
Tomopterna branchi no account no photos no sound/video
Tomopterna cryptotis account photos no sound/video
Tomopterna damarensis no account photos no sound/video
Tomopterna delalandii no account photos no sound/video
Tomopterna elegans no account no photos no sound/video
Tomopterna gallmanni no account no photos no sound/video
Tomopterna kachowskii no account photos no sound/video
Tomopterna krugerensis no account photos no sound/video
Tomopterna luganga no account photos no sound/video
Tomopterna marmorata no account photos no sound/video
Tomopterna milletihorsini no account no photos no sound/video
Tomopterna monticola no account no photos no sound/video
Tomopterna natalensis no account photos no sound/video
Tomopterna tandyi no account photos no sound/video
Tomopterna tuberculosa no account photos no sound/video
Tomopterna wambensis no account no photos no sound/video
Subfamily Pyxicephalinae (7 species)

Genus Aubria (3 species)    [subfamily Pyxicephalinae]
Aubria masako no account photos no sound/video
Aubria occidentalis no account no photos no sound/video
Aubria subsigillata no account photos no sound/video

Genus Pyxicephalus (4 species)    [subfamily Pyxicephalinae]
Pyxicephalus adspersus account photos no sound/video
Pyxicephalus angusticeps no account no photos no sound/video
Pyxicephalus edulis account photos no sound/video
Pyxicephalus obbianus 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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