Family Hyperoliidae

Hyperolius acuticeps Ahl, 1931

Sharp-nosed Reed Frog, Long Reed Frog, Skerpneusrietpadda (A)

By P.J. Bishop

Currently accepted name: Hyperolius microps G√ľnther, 1864
Red listing status: Least Concern

Photo by Brouard Jean-Paul; Luke Durkan, 2011. URL: FrogMAP: 693


On the basis of differences in advertisement call structure, Channing et al. (2002) assigned most of the morphologically similar taxa in the Hyperolius nasutus complex to three species: H. acuticeps Ahl, H. viridis Schiøtz and H. nasutus Gunther. According to these authors, H. acuticeps occurs as far west as Ivory Coast and as far north as Ethiopia and Somalia, extending southward through eastern and southern Africa to the southeastern coast of South Africa. Thus the populations in the atlas region, previously referred to H. nasutus (Poynton 1964; Wager 1965; Lambiris 1989a; Passmore and Carruthers 1995, and others) or to H. poweri (Channing 2001), are here referred to H. acuticeps, following Channing et al. (2002).

In the atlas region, H. acuticeps ranges from the Eastern Cape (3129BD) in the south, through the coastal areas of KwaZulu-Natal, to the Mozambique border (2632DC).

The atlas data are reliable but incomplete, especially with respect to recent records. Data collected in the future should include recorded advertisement calls.


This species inhabits the Savanna and Grassland biomes. In South Africa it occurs at or near sea level in Coastal Bushveld-Grassland. It breeds in shallow coastal pans, vleis and inundated grassland with dense, emergent and/or littoral vegetation – in particular, the sedges Eleocharis limosa and Cyperus papyrus (Poynton 1964; Lambiris 1989a; Passmore and Carruthers 1995; pers. obs.). In Malawi it has been found in dense, emergent vegetation associated with marshes, ponds and streams in open and wooded country, and on the edge of forest, from the lakeshore at an altitude of 475 m, up to 2286 m on the Nyika Plateau (Stewart 1967; A. Turner pers. obs.). In Zimbabwe it has been found breeding in pans and flooded grassland (A. Turner pers. comm.).

Life history

Very little is known about the behavioural ecology of this species during the non-breeding season. Breeding takes place in the wet season (Stewart 1967). During the day, adults sit in exposed positions on emergent vegetation, parallel to the stem or leaf blade, but dive into the water when disturbed. In the afternoon, and at night, males call from elevated positions, near the tops of sedges and reeds, and frequently engage in territorial disputes (Wager 1965; Stewart 1967; Razetti and Msuya 2002; A. Turner pers. comm.).

Females deposit 60–292 eggs, in groups of 2–20, on submerged leaves or roots. Tadpoles leave the egg capsule about five days later (Wager 1965).

Predators include various birds, snakes, terrapins, spiders and other frogs, while prey consists mainly of flying insects (pers. obs.).


A major threat to H. acuticeps is habitat loss through the drainage of wetlands for agricultural and urban development. In several areas in KwaZulu-Natal, Eucalyptus plantations have lowered the water table to such a degree that many coastal pans have completely disappeared; as a result, the species’ range has been considerably diminished during the past c.15 years. With the exception of populations within nature reserves, the species is now encountered only rarely; in the past, it was much more common and widespread.

This species occurs in several established provincial reserves and protected areas and does not appear to require any further conservation action. However, because of recent declines, it is recommended that protected populations be monitored.

Current distribution map

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


  • Web:
    FrogMAP. 2023. Hyperolius acuticeps Ahl, 1931. Animal Demography Unit. Accessed from; on 2023-12-01 09:12:32.
  • 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).