The Critically Endangered spiny puddle frog is a miniature species of puddle frog, with adults barely reaching 2 cm long! The species name is derived from the Cameroonian phrase ‘chuku chuku’, meaning ‘spiny’, referring to the minute spinules visible on males.
Puddle frogs of the genus Phrynobatrachus diverged from all other living amphibians around 90 million years ago. This means they are as closely related to other frogs as we are to rabbits, hares, rats and squirrels!
The spiny puddle frog is found only in the grasslands near Mount Oku and, as their habitat of high elevation grasslands does not occur in other highland areas of the Cameroon Volcanic line, it is believed to be endemic to this one area.
Unfortunately, there is ongoing habitat destruction near the summit of Mount Oku, due to overgrazing by cattle, goats and horses owned by local people. Both human-induced and natural fires are also a threat to the habitat of this species. Establishment of a national park in this area has been recommended, as the habitat was identified as one of the most important areas for conservation in Cameroon.
- Order: Anura
- Family: Phrynobatrachidae
- Population: Rare
- Trend: unknown
- Size: <20mm
This species is known only from near the summit of Mount Oku, 2,800 metres above sea level, Northwestern Region, Cameroon.
Habitat and Ecology
This species occurs in highland grasslands near the summit of Mount Oku. It is likely that they breed in streams and have larval development, whereby tadpoles emerge from the eggs.