Family Pyxicephalidae

Tomopterna marmorata (Peters, 1854)

Russet-backed Sand Frog, Marbled Sand Frog, Marmorate Pyxie, Mozambique Dwarf Bullfrog, Rooirug-sandpadda (A)

By A. Channing

Currently accepted name: Tomopterna marmorata
Red listing status: Least Concern

Photo by Tibbitt-Eggleton Robert, 2012. URL: FrogMAP: 1725


North of the atlas region, T. marmorata ranges from Botswana eastward through Zambia, Malawi and Zimbabwe to southern Mozambique. Within the atlas region, the species is fairly widespread in Limpopo Province and eastern Mpumalanga at altitudes <1000 m. An historical record from Ndumo Game Reserve in northern KwaZulu-Natal (Poynton 1964) requires confirmation, as the original specimens have been lost (Lambiris 1989a).

The distribution map is incomplete and the distribution data presented here should be viewed with circumspection. The description of additional cryptic species (unpubl. data) will necessitate a re-examination of the distribution of T. marmorata, using distribution records based on calls.


In the atlas region, T. marmorata inhabits a range of bushveld vegetation types in the Savanna Biome. It seems to prefer sandy soil and occurs in areas where annual rainfall is 500–1000 mm. It breeds in slow-flowing rivers and streams as well as isolated pools, pans or dams with sandy substrates.

Life history

T. marmorata adults have been found buried in sandbanks during the dry season. They emerge after the first rains and begin breeding as soon as bodies of standing or running water have formed. Males call from open areas on sandbanks, near the edge of the water. Amplexus is axillary, and the eggs are laid in shallow water (L.R. Minter pers. comm.). The eggs are laid singly, and a clutch size of 150 eggs has been recorded (Channing 2001). No further life history details are known.


This is a widespread and common species, but see remarks under Distribution. No conservation action appears to be necessary.

Current distribution map

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


  • Web:
    FrogMAP. 2023. Tomopterna marmorata (Peters, 1854). Animal Demography Unit. Accessed from; on 2023-12-01 08:12:21.
  • 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).