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Toad-skinned Frog

Walkerana phrynoderma


The Critically Endangered toad-skinned frog is endemic to the Western Ghats of India. The family of frogs to which this species belongs diverged from all other amphibians over 80 million years ago.

Very little is known about this enigmatic species. Despite being described in 1882, this species has received relatively little scientific attention. A denizen of the leaf litter, this species occurs in a small area of undisturbed shola forest. Its reproductive biology, vocalisation and diet are poorly known.

Listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species because its extent of occurrence is less than 100 km2, all individuals are in a single location, and there is continuing decline in the extent and quality of its habitat outside of Indira Ghandi National Park.

The primary threat to this species is habitat loss through both land clearance for agriculture and wood collection for fuel. For the conservation of this species, there is now a focus on shola forest restoration. There is now also a systematic monitoring programme to improve our knowledge of their population status and trends.

  • Order: Anura
  • Family: Ranixalidae
  • Population: Unknown
  • Trend: decreasing
  • Size: 35mm

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 6.22 (?)
ED Score: 30.49 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


The toad skinned frog has been reported from shola forest around the hill station of Munnar in Kerala and Valparai in Tamil Nadu. It occurs within the Anamalai Tiger Reserve.

Habitat and Ecology

This small stocky frog lives in shola forest where it is associated with thick leaf litter. Other frogs in this genus lay eggs at the side of streams, the semi-terrestrial tadpoles hatch out and feed on the surface of wet rocks, they are able to skip across the surface of the rocks using their long tails which lack fins. It is likely that the toad-skinned frog breeds in a similar way.

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Vision (30-50 years)

Protect and improve all populations of the Toad-skinned Frog

Goal (5-10 years)

To reduce the habitat pressure on the Toad-skinned Frog


Restore the degraded species habitats Critical
Reduce dependence of local communities on firewood in species habitat Critical
Understand the life history of the Toad skinned Frog High
Understand the effect of pesticides on Toad skinned Frog High
Monitor the population of Toad-skinned frog across its range Medium
Pilot and promote frog-friendly agricultural practices Medium
Setup a protected area to conserve the species habitats that currently exist outside the protected area Low

Arun Kanagavel

  • Project name: Conservation of Kerala Indian frog through intensive field surveys and community participation
  • Project site: Tamil Nadu, India
  • Active: 2012 - 2014
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