Family Arthroleptidae

Arthroleptis stenodactylus Pfeffer, 1893

Shovel-footed Squeaker, Dune Squeaker, Graafpootkikker (A)

By A. Channing

Currently accepted name: Arthroleptis stenodactylus
Red listing status: Least Concern

Photo by Evans Nick, 2014. URL: FrogMAP: 2013


A. stenodactylus is a widespread species that extends from southern and eastern Zaire to Kenya, south to Zimbabwe and Mozambique. In the atlas region it has a peripheral distribution, occurring along the coastal plain north of Empangeni (2831DD), and in the Limpopo River valley in the extreme north of Limpopo Province. This species is easily recognized by its call. The atlas data are reliable.


In the atlas region, this species occurs in wooded areas with abundant leaf litter and sandy soils. Along the coast it inhabits Dune Forest and forest patches in Coastal Bushveld/Grassland, while in the northern Kruger National Park it was found in the leaf litter of riverine woodland (H.H. Braack pers. comm.). Breeding takes place in the same habitat.

Life history

Breeding occurs December–February (Stewart 1967). Males call from the ground amongst leaf litter. The eggs are laid in hollows or shallow burrows in leaf litter beneath bushes or around the roots of trees. Clutch size is 33–80 eggs which develop directly into small froglets (Barbour and Loveridge 1928; Loveridge 1953a).

During the dry season, the adults take shelter in hollow trees, moss, rotten wood, and soil at the base of trees (Loveridge 1953b,c).

Their diet includes termites, ants and a wide range of other small arthropods; more unusual items include snails and frogs (Barbour and Loveridge 1928; Inger and Marx 1961). They are fed upon by various snakes, including Eastern Vine Snake Thelotornis mossambicanus, White-lipped Snake Crotaphopeltis tornieri, Eastern Stripe-bellied Sand Snake Psammophis orientalis and Green Water Snake Philothamnus hoplogaster (Barbour and Loveridge 1928; Loveridge 1953a; Blake 1965).


This species is widespread and common and does not require specific conservation action.

Current distribution map

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


  • Web:
    FrogMAP. 2023. Arthroleptis stenodactylus Pfeffer, 1893. Animal Demography Unit. Accessed from; on 2023-12-01 08:12:10.
  • 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).