Redbelly Egg Frog
(Leptodactylodon erythrogaster)
The redbelly egg frog has been little-studied since its formal discovery in 1971. It is only known from a tiny range of around 33 km sq. on Mount Manengouba and has been found in a variety of places within its montane forest habitat, including streams, ground holes, humus, gravel, root masses and dense undergrowth. It is presumed to breed in streams and it said to be very abundant within its restricted locality. It can be found living in disturbed habitat, but it is feared that continued habitat destruction could pose a severe risk to the continued survival of this species.
Urgent Conservation Actions
Establishment of a protected area which could also benefit other biodiversity in the vicinity; development of a Conservation Action Plan.
Evolutionary Distinctiveness
Order: Anura
Family: Arthroleptidae
The genus Leptodactylodon (commonly known as the egg frogs) is present in a family called the Arthroleptidae, or squeaker frogs. This is a fairly small family which contains (depending upon which family tree you consult) between about 50 and 129 known member species, all found across Africa below the Sahara desert. The family gets its common name from the distinctive calls of its constituent members, which are very similar to the sounds made by crickets. They are also sometimes called “screechers”.

The squeaker frogs are closely related to the “true frogs” in the family Ranidae, and diverged from all other frog families about 75 million years ago in the Late Cretaceous. This was 10 million years before the extinction of the dinosaurs, making them as different from their closest relatives as camels are to whales! There are only 15 known species of egg frog, and they are unusual among the squeaker frogs because they are presumed to lay eggs that hatch into tadpoles. Many other squeaker frogs have eggs that undergo “direct development” – meaning they hatch into miniature adults, avoiding any tadpole phase outside of the egg.
The redbelly egg frog is small in size, with males measuring around 21.5 mm and females being slightly larger at about 24.6 mm. The body fairly rounded, and the head is small with a broadly rounded snout and protruding eyes that are dark in colour. The toes are long and slender and, like the fingers, are unwebbed. The skin of the back is slightly granular and the stomach is smooth. The limbs are fairly muscular, with the fore-limbs being fairly short.

The top of the body is brown with a few near-uniform red markings, some of which are darker brown in shade. The colouring of the lower surface of the frog is different in males and females. In males, the underside of the arms, forearms, chest, abdomen, and thighs is a dark, carmine red. The throat is a blackish-brown with some vague pinkish stains. The undersides of the legs are also reddish with large dark patterning. In females the ventral (or lower) surfaces are a magnificent scarlet.
This species is associated with streams, but also ranges around terrestrial (or ground) locations such as holes in the earth, leaf litter and dense undergrowth. Information about this species is limited because it has been little-studied since it was formally described as a new species in 1971. Because of its known presence in flowing waterbodies, it is presumed that this is a squeaker frog that breeds in streams, where its eggs hatch into tadpoles. It co-exists with a close relative, Mertens' egg frog (Leptodactylodon mertensi) which it closely resembles, at altitudes of around 1,700 metres above sea level.
The redbelly egg frog is found in submontane and lower montane forest in a variety of different situations. It has been observed around springs and streams, living in holes, humus, gravel, root masses and dense undergrowth. It may also survive in open, disturbed forest.
This species may only be found on the south-eastern slopes of Mount Manengouba in western Cameroon, at an altitude of 1,550-1,800 metres above sea level.
Population Estimate
This species has been reported to be abundant within its tiny range, and is most common at altitudes of 1,700-1,800 metres above sea level.
Population Trend
This species is thought to be in decline by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The redbelly eggs frog is listed as Critically Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species because its extent of occurrence is probably less than 100 km sq., it is known from a single location, and the quality and extent of its forest habitat on Mount Manenguba is declining.
The main threat to redbelly eggs frog is that the extent of its habitat on Mount Manengouba is declining. Although this species can tolerate a certain amount of habitat disturbance, it is placed at severe risk because it has a tiny range and may not be able to withstand continued degradation of its wild habitat.
Conservation Underway
The redbelly egg frog is not known from any protected areas, and there are currently no conservation measures underway fro this species.
Conservation Proposed
Redbelly eggs frog habitat should be protected on Mount Manengouba, possibly through the formal establishment of a protected area which could also benefit other biodiversity in the vicinity. Using existing data on range and abundance for this species, a Conservation Action Plan should be developed to galvanise future action for the preservation of this species in the wild.

In addition to conserving native habitat for this species, the IUCN Technical Guidelines for the Management of Ex situ Populations, part of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, recommend that all Critically Endangered species should have an ex situ population managed to guard against the extinction of the species. An ex situ population is ideally a breeding colony of a species maintained outside of its natural habitat, giving rise to individuals from that species that are sheltered from problems associated with their situation in the wild. This can be located within the species’ range or in a foreign country that has the facilities to support a captive breeding programme for that species. Since the redbelly egg frog is categorised as Critically Endangered, the possibility of a captive breeding programme for this species should be investigated.
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Amiet, J.-L. 1971. Les batraciens orophiles du Cameroun. Ann. Fac. Sci. Cameroun 5: 83-102.

Amiet, J.-L. 1973. Notes faunistiques, ethologistiques et ecologistiques sur quelques amphibiens anoures du Cameroun (2e Serie). Ann. Fac. Sci. Cameroun 13: 135-161.

Amiet, J.-L. 1975. Ecologie et distribution des amphibiens anoures de la region de Nkongsamba (Cameroun). Ann. Fac. Sci. Yaounde 20: 33-107.

Amiet, J.-L. 1980. Revision du genre Leptodactylodon Andersson (Amphibia, Anura, Asylosterninae). Ann. Fac. Sci. Yaounde 27: 69-224.

Amiet, J.-L. 2004. Leptodactylodon erythrogaster. In: IUCN 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.. Downloaded on 06 August 2007.

Amiet, J.-L. and Schiøtz, A. 1972. Voix d'Amphibiens camerounais. I - Astylosterninae: genres Leptodactylodon, Scotobleps et Nyctibates. Ann. Fac. Sci. Cameroun 12: 79-100.

AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation [web application]. 2006. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: amphibiaweb. Accessed: 08 December 2006.

Duellman, W. E. and Trueb, L. 1986. Biology of Amphibians. McGraw-Hill, New York.

Frost, Darrel R. 2006. Amphibian Species of the World: an Online Reference. Version 4 (17 August 2006). Electronic Database accessible at: . American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA.

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

Halliday, T. and Adler, C. (eds.). 2002. The new encyclopedia of reptiles and amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

IUCN, Conservation International and NatureServe. 2006. Global Amphibian Assessment. Global Amphibian Assessment. Accessed on 08 December 2006.

Mattison, C. 1987. Frogs and toads of the world. Blandford Press, U.K.

Obst, F.J., Richter, K. and Jacob, U. 1984. The Completely Illustrated Atlas of Reptiles and Amphibians for the Terrarium. T.F.H. Publication Inc., N.J., U.S.A.

Roelants, K., Gower, D. J., Wilkinson, M., Loader, S. P., Biju, S. D., Guillaume, K., Moiau, L. and Bossuyt, F. 2007. Global patterns of diversification in the history of modern amphibians. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104: 887-892.

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Forum comments
  1. wildam

    Leptodactylodon erythrogaster


    Posted 6 years ago #

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