Family Phrynobatrachidae

Phrynobatrachus natalensis (Smith, 1849)

Snoring Puddle Frog, Natal Puddle Frog, Snorkmodderpadda (A)

By A. Channing

Currently accepted name: Phrynobatrachus natalensis (Smith, 1849)
Type locality: "the country around Port Natal [=Durban]", KwaZulu-Natal, Rep. South Africa
Red listing status: Least Concern (IUCN, 2013)

Photo by Hankey Andrew, 2011. URL: FrogMAP: 120


P. natalensis is widely distributed in the savannas of sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal in the west to Somalia in the east and southward through East Africa. To the south, it ranges as far as northeastern Namibia, northern Botswana, and Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. The variation in clutch size, tadpole morphology, size of the adult frog and period of activity, suggests that this taxon may comprise more than one species (Rödel 2000).

In the atlas region, this species occurs east of 24°E, from sea level to the inland plateau, but is absent from the Lesotho highlands.

This species has a characteristic call. The atlas data are accurate and comprehensive.


P. natalensis inhabits a variety of vegetation types in the Savanna and Grassland biomes where summer rainfall is >500 mm, although some populations along the western edge of the species’ range are found in drier areas. The polymorphic colour pattern may be a means of protection against predators, and specific patterns have been correlated with particular habitats (Stewart 1974).

Breeding takes place in shallow to fairly deep water in temporary pans and pools, vleis, dams and even small, slow-flowing streams. Wager (1986) recorded the species breeding in brackish pools near the high-water mark at the coast. Breeding sites usually have vegetation or other types of cover along their banks. P. natalensis is tolerant of human disturbance and is often found near human habitation.

Life history

In Kruger National Park, P. natalensis has been found sheltering under rocks near breeding sites during the dry season (H. Braack pers. comm.).

Breeding begins in spring after the first rains and continues to late summer. Males usually call from concealed sites and may be heard throughout the day and night in wet weather. Aggressive encounters between males are commonplace (Wager 1965).

Mating pairs swim while depositing the small eggs in a single-layered plate that floats at the surface. Reported clutch sizes from West Africa are 200–1652 eggs (Rödel 2000). Tadpoles reared by Wager (1965) hatched within 3–4 days and took 4–5 weeks to reach metamorphosis, but other authors report considerable variation in the rate of development (Rödel 2000).

Food items recorded north of the atlas region include a variety of insects, especially termites during the rainy season, as well as earthworms, snails and frogs (Inger and Marx 1961). Predators of the species include Black-necked Spitting Cobra Naja nigricollis (Channing 2001) and Herald Snake Crotaphopeltis hotamboeia (H. Braack pers. comm.).


During recent atlas surveys this species was not found in many parts of Mpumalanga and North West Province, where pre-1996 records exist. This may be due to agricultural and industrial development that has taken place in these areas over the past 20–30 years (H. Braack pers. comm.). Further surveys are recommended to establish whether P. natalensis has become locally extinct in these areas. In other areas, however, this species is abundant and often found near human habitation. It is well established in many national parks and provincial nature reserves and does not need additional conservation action.

Current distribution map

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


  • Web:
    FrogMAP. 2023. Phrynobatrachus natalensis (Smith, 1849). Animal Demography Unit. Accessed from; on 2023-12-01 08:12:05.
  • 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).