AmphibiaWeb - Neobatrachus albipes


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Neobatrachus albipes Roberts, Mahony, Kendrick & Majors, 1991
White-footed Frog
family: Myobatrachidae
subfamily: Limnodynastinae
genus: Neobatrachus
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Least Concern (LC)
National Status None
Regional Status None


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Neobatrachus albipes is a moderate size burrowing frog. The total male body length is approximatly 33.2 to 45.4 mm and females are approximately 35.3 mm snout-vent length. These frogs have sloped heads that are shorter than wide. From the dorsal view the snout is rounded and from the profile the snout is almost flat, appearing almost square. The slightly laterally nostrils are pointed upward and the large eyes are distinct. The tympanum is taller than it is wide and, although, covered with skin is obvious. Prominent paratoid glands can be found extending medially from behind the tympanum to the middle of the back. This species has moderate limbs. Relative finger lengths are 3 > 1 > 2 > 4 and fingers are unwebbed, slender, and short. Each finger has an obvious subarticular tubercle at the first joint. Tubercles can also be found between the first and second fingers and second and third fingers. In males, nuptial pads can be found starting at the base of the first two fingers and extending to the distal joints. Relatively toe lengths are 4 > 3 > 5 > 2 > 1 and toes are Slender and webbed. Toe webbing covers first, second, and third toes fully, but only extends to the second joint on toes four and five (Roberts et al. 1991)

With the exception of N. pelobatoides, N. albipes can be diagnosed by its unpigmented metatarsal tubercle. Neobatrachus albipes can be differentiated from N. pelobatoides by the white coloration on the top of the foot of N. albipes and N. albipes’ male call having fewer pulse numbers and higher pulse rates and dominant frequencies than N. pelobatoides (Roberts et al. 1991).

In life, the N. albipes appears to be able to change color to blend in with its background. In dark backgrounds, the dorsum is brown with markings that are dark with undefined edges. A broad lighter “V” shape can be found on the skin above and between the eyes. In light backgrounds, the dorsum of N. albipes is pale gray to light yellow-green; this is especially true around the flanks and back half of the body. In both backgrounds, the upper surface of the feet and toes are white, giving the species its common name. When preserved, the dorsal surface of the frog appears as when the live frog is on a dark background. The ventral surface, legs, upper arms and anterior of the forearms, and inner margin of the feet of the frog are creamy-white. Neobatrachus albipes has dark brown plantar and palmer areas. The skin on the anterior and lateral margins of the submandibular area is dark grey-brown. The upper surface of the foot and toes are white and the skin at the ankle is translucent showing dark brown muscle underneath (Roberts et al. 1991).

Some frogs also have a mid-dorsal strip that extends from a point level with the tympanum to the cloaca. The paratoid glands can vary in their distinctiveness and some specimens are a lighter brown-yellow when preserved. Individuals also have variation in the distinctiveness of the light bar between their eyes and some males have nuptial pads that extend to their third finger (Roberts et al. 1991).

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Australia

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This frog is found in the southern arid and semi-arid zone of southwest Western Australia, from Narembeen and the Stirling Range eastward to Cape Arid. The estimated elevation range of N. albipes is from near sea level to approximately 800 meters above mean sea level (Hero and Roberts 2004).

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
Neobatrachus albipes are explosive breeders characterized by sudden breeding activity for one or two nights after heavy rains in temporary pools formed during the seasonal rains. These most intense precipitation periods are typically in autumn (beginning in May) and winter, and ponding may persist through October. This rainy season marks the peak of species activity for N. albipes (Roberts et al. 1991).

Breeding age males produce mating vocalizations in the spring and summer season from hidden positions in crevices or beneath woody scrub vegetation near breeding waters, which are typically 20 to 50 centimeters in depth. Vocalizations most often consist of a series of 36 to 40 brief pulses of sound. The sexes mate via inguinal amplexus (Roberts et al.1991).

Trends and Threats
The IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species currently lists N. albipes as “Least Concern” with a stable population trend and no major threats (Hero and Roberts 2004). However, the species may be affected by habitat conversion to agriculture, agricultural run-off, changes to topographic that may affects where ponds form, increased salinisation of surface waters, habitat degradation through grazing, introduced vegetation, and climate change.

While little taxon specific conservation measures are in place, approximately 8,000 square kilometers of habitat is under national or regional protection, with the largest elements of land being: Cape Arid National Park, Stirling Range National Park, Fitzgerald River National Park, and Lake Magenta National Reserve (Thackeray & Cresswell 1995).

Possible reasons for amphibian decline

General habitat alteration and loss
Intensified agriculture or grazing
Drainage of habitat
Habitat fragmentation
Local pesticides, fertilizers, and pollutants

This species is diploid (Novikova et al. 2020).

This species was featured as News of the Week on 30 November 2020:

While common in plants, whole genome duplication, or polyploidy, is rare in animals. The animals that are polyploid tend to reproduce asexually. Notable exceptions in the amphibian world that display both polyploidy and sexual reproduction, include members of the Xenopus genus and Bufotes viridis complex. Novikova et al. (2020) investigated another system in the Australian genus Neobatrachus, where six members are diploid and three are tetraploid, to better understand the evolutionary role of polyploidism. They found asymmetric gene flow from the more isolated diploid species to tetraploids, which have wider distributions, as the origin of the polyploid species. Furthermore, these inter-specific hybrid tetraploids displayed more wide-spread gene flow and were more tolerant of climate-induced habitat loss, providing a potential rescue effect to species diversity in the genus. (AChang)


Hero J.M., Roberts, D. 2004. Neobatrachus albipes. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. Downloaded on 14 December 2012.

Novikova PY, Brennan IG, Booker W, Mahony M, Doughty P, Lemmon AR, et al. (2020). "Polyploidy breaks speciation barriers in Australian burrowing frogs Neobatrachus." PLoS Genetics, 16(5), e1008769. [link]

Roberts, J.D., Mahony, M., Kendrick, P., Majors, C.M. (1991). ''A new species of burrowing frog, Neobatrachus (Anura: Myobatrachidae), from the eastern wheatbelt of Western Australia.'' Records of Western Australian Museum, 15, 23-32.

Thackway, R. and I.D.Cresswell (1995). An interim biogeographic regionalisation for Australia: a framework for setting priorities in the National Reserves System Cooperative Program. Australian Nature Conservation Agency, Reserve Systems Unit, Canberra, Australia.

Originally submitted by: C. Michael Hogan (first posted 2012-12-14)
Comments by: Michelle S. Koo (updated 2021-04-04)

Edited by: Michelle S. Koo and Ann T. Chang (2021-04-04)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2021 Neobatrachus albipes: White-footed Frog <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Jun 18, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 18 Jun 2024.

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