Family Pyxicephalidae

Arthroleptella lightfooti (Boulenger, 1910)

Cape Peninsula Moss Frog, Cape Chirping Frog, Lightfoot’s Moss Frog, Kaapse SkiBy A. Channing

Currently accepted name: Arthroleptella lightfooti
Red listing status: Near Threatened

Photo by Hardaker T. & , 2012. URL: FrogMAP: 391


Status: Near Threatened (NT)


Adults vary considerably in colouration and markings. Females reach 22 mm in length. The outer metatarsal tubercle is well developed as in A. villiersi. The advertisement call is a short chirp consisting of three pulses. The call is 0.1 s long and has an emphasized frequency of 3.1–3.4 kHz (Channing et al. 1994a; Channing 2001). This species does not occur in sympatry with any other Arthroleptella species.


A. lightfooti is endemic to the Cape Peninsula. It is known from sea level to 1000 m at the top of Table Mountain. The species appears to be divided into two subpopulations: Table Mountain/Constantiaberg, and the southern Cape Peninsula (Harrison et al. 2001). The atlas data are reliable.


This species is restricted to montane fynbos and Afromontane forest in the winter rainfall region, where annual rainfall is >750 mm. It inhabits seepages, both in open fynbos and kloofs, where the vegetation is thick and the substrate is sandy or rocky.

Life history

Choruses develop during the daytime and at night, between April and December, coinciding with the rainy season. Males call from concealed sites and are frequently found under moss in the vicinity of egg masses. Clutches of 5–12 eggs are laid on damp soil under vegetation or in more exposed positions, and are often found near waterfalls (Channing 2001). Development is direct and metamorphosis takes place 7–10 days after the eggs are laid.



A. lightfooti occurs in the Cape Peninsula National Park and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (Channing 2001; Harrison et al. 2001). Although the limited area of occupancy and extent of occurrence of this species seems to warrant a higher category of threat, its distribution falls almost entirely within the Cape Peninsula National Park and the known sub-populations are not severely fragmented. Major declines are not expected, and the species was therefore classified Near Threatened (Harrison et al. 2001; this publication). While the species is not considered to be under immediate threat, appropriate conservation management practices are necessary to ensure its continued survival.


Present and potential threats include habitat fragmentation, the alteration of drainage patterns (dam construction), invasive alien vegetation, afforestation and fire (Harrison et al. 2001). These threats are exacerbated by the fact that the area of occupancy is surrounded by a large urban metropolis.

Recommended conservation actions

Habitat and limiting factor management, as well as regular population monitoring, are recommended.

Current distribution map

Undated records;  pre-1996;  1996 to 2002;  2003 to present


  • Web:
    FrogMAP. 2023. Arthroleptella lightfooti (Boulenger, 1910). Animal Demography Unit. Accessed from; on 2023-12-01 08:12:01.
  • Book:
    Minter L.R., Burger M., Harrison J.A., Braack H.H., Bishop P.J. & Kloepfer D. (eds). 2004. Atlas and Red Data book of the frogs of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. SI/MAB Series no. 9. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. Published by the Smithsonian Institution and the Avian Demography Unit (now Animal Demography Unit).