Family Pyxicephalidae

Arthroleptella hewitti FitzSimons, 1947

Natal Moss Frog, Natal Chirping Frog, Hewitt’s Moss Frog, Natalse Kwetterpadda (A), Hewitt se Mospaddatjie (A)

By A. Channing

Currently accepted name: Anhydrophryne hewitti (FitzSimons, 1947)
Red listing status: Least Concern (IUCN, 2010)


A. hewitti is endemic to KwaZulu-Natal, where it is fairly widely distributed in suitable habitats in the midlands and on the lower slopes of the Drakensberg mountains up to 2700 m a.s.l. (Lambiris 1989a). The atlas distribution map is rather patchy, reflecting, to some extent, the distribution of the preferred habitat of this species. The scarcity of recent records is probably due to inadequate sampling rather than the disappearance of the species at localities from which it was previously known. This species is easily identified by its appearance and its call, and the atlas records are therefore reliable.


A. hewitti inhabits pockets of forest and dense natural vegetation alongside streams in ravines and valleys in mountainous terrain. It may be found amongst the leaf litter on the forest floor, in wet mossy embankments near waterfalls and rapids, or in small pools on the walls of rocky kloofs (Lambiris 1989a). Annual rainfall is >750 mm over most of its range.

Life history

Breeding takes place during spring and summer (October–January). Males call from concealed positions under vegetation. The female deposits 14–40 eggs in a shallow depression in soft, wet mud under a rock, fern, moss or leaf litter. Development is direct and metamorphosis takes place within three weeks (Wager 1965, 1986). Prey includes amphipod and isopod crustaceans (Wager 1965). Predators have not been recorded.


A. hewitti has a relatively wide extent of occurrence in KwaZulu-Natal. Much of its range at higher altitudes is protected. Presently, it does not appear to require any special conservation action.

Current distribution map

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


  • Web:
    FrogMAP. 2023. Arthroleptella hewitti FitzSimons, 1947. Animal Demography Unit. Accessed from; on 2023-12-01 08:12:43.
  • 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).