Family Ptychadenidae

Ptychadena mossambica (Peters, 1854)

Broad-banded Grass Frog, Mozambique Ridged Frog, Breëband-graspadda (A)

By L.R. Minter and N.I. Passmore

Currently accepted name: Ptychadena mossambica
Red listing status: Least Concern

Photo by Evans Nick, 2012. URL: FrogMAP: 611


P. mossambica occurs in open savanna from Kenya and Uganda southward through East Africa to Namibia (Caprivi), Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique (Poynton and Broadley 1985b; Channing 2001). In the atlas region it occurs in the northeastern parts of North West Province, Limpopo Province, eastern Mpumalanga, eastern Swaziland and northern KwaZulu-Natal. Its recorded range extends west as far as Gopane (2525BD), and southward to Mtunzini (2831DD). This is a highly variable taxon which requires further taxonomic investigation (Poynton and Broadley 1985b; Channing 2001).

P. mossambica has a loud and distinctive call and breeds over an extended period. The atlas data are reasonably complete and reliable, although the species is probably more widespread in Limpopo Province than is indicated by the map.


This savanna species inhabits several bushveld vegetation types in the northeastern parts of the atlas region, at altitudes of 200–1200 m. (Jacobsen 1989). Annual rainfall in these habitats is 350–>1000 mm. P. mossambica and P. anchietae are both savanna species and often occupy the same breeding sites. However, Poynton and Broadley (1985b) cited a record of P. mossambica collected in evergreen forest in Mozambique, while Loveridge (1953a) collected specimens in open grassland, indicating that this species has adapted to a wider range of habitats than P. anchietae.

During summer, adults conceal themselves in grass tussocks near vleis, seepage areas, pans and dams (Jacobsen 1989), floodplains of rivers and inundated grassland (Passmore and Carruthers 1995). When disturbed, they take one long leap into grass, crawl under it, and remain concealed (Stewart 1967).

Life history

Comparatively little is known about the life history of P. mossambica. During dry winter months the frogs seek refuge in deep cracks in the dry mud of pans and dams (Pienaar et al. 1976), emerging to breed after the first spring rains.

In flooded grassland or shallow, grassy pans, males call from completely concealed positions within grass tussocks, usually some distance from the shoreline. At breeding sites, where clumps of emergent vegetation are absent, calling takes place from dense vegetation at the water’s edge (Passmore 1978). In more arid areas, such as Hans Merensky Nature Reserve, breeding begins before vegetation has developed around the seasonal pans and dams, and P. mossambica calls from completely exposed positions, alongside P. anchietae (L.R.M. pers. obs). Calling peaks between 20:00 and midnight (Passmore 1978).

Pienaar et al. (1976) recorded a batch of 315 eggs that were laid in shallow water and developed rapidly. They were grey-brown on one side, yellow-white on the other and sank to the bottom when laid.

Diet has not been recorded, but is probably similar to that of P. anchietae.


In terms of its global distribution, P. mossambica has a marginal distribution in the atlas region; within this area it is relatively common and does not appear to be at risk. Much of its habitat is used for game and cattle farming and is relatively undisturbed, and it also occurs in a number of provincial nature reserves and national parks.

Current distribution map

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


  • Web:
    FrogMAP. 2023. Ptychadena mossambica (Peters, 1854). Animal Demography Unit. Accessed from; on 2023-12-01 09:12:06.
  • 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).