Tinker Reed Frog (Hyperolius tuberilinguis)

View the above photo record (by Nick Evans) in FrogMAP here.

Find the Tinker Reed Frog in the FBIS database (Freshwater Biodiversity Information System) here.

Family Hyperoliidae

TINKER REED FROG – Hyperolius tuberilinguis

A. Smith, 1849


Hyperolius tuberilinguis – Near Hluhluwe, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett


This species inhabits a variety of bushveld vegetation types in the Savanna Biome, particularly Coastal Bushveld-Grassland. It breeds in reed beds on the periphery of swamps or rivers (Alexander 1990), or dense vegetation surrounding inundated pans, and is often the most numerous frog in multi-species choruses. In Malawi it occurs in coastal, lakeshore or riverine marshes at elevations up to 488 m in open country (Stewart 1967).


In the dry season, adults aestivate in secluded places, often entering houses. In summer, they breed over a prolonged period, forming dense choruses (Pallet and Passmore 1988).

In Durban (2931CC), calling starts at the beginning of September and continues to the middle of April (Alexander 1987). Males call from perches in dense stands of emergent vegetation c.50 cm above the water, and are difficult to locate. Spacing of calling males is maintained by vocal aggression and physical combat (Pallet and Passmore 1988). Males leave breeding choruses in the early hours of the morning and ascend into trees surrounding the breeding site, returning to the breeding site the following evening (Passmore and Carruthers 1995). Telford (1982) noted that males exhibit high call-site fidelity, returning to the same site on successive nights unless disturbed by predators or displaced by competitors.

Hyperolius tuberilinguis – Mount Moreland, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Michael Wright

Even though males defend call sites from conspecific males, the call site is not used as the oviposition site (Telford 1982). The eggs are enclosed in a gelatinous cake, which is attached to reed or grass stems above the waterline (Poynton 1964); the tadpoles drop into the water as they hatch. The white eggs and their jelly capsules are 1.5 mm and 4 mm in diameter, respectively (Wager 1965).

The call consists of a series of between two and six clicking or tapping sounds. With variable intervening periods of silence. Males also produce a creaking aggression call when rival males get too close.

Status and Conservation

Stable populations of H. tuberilinguis occur in relatively altered environments such as golf courses and parks. This species is also easily translocated: a breeding population was established in Pigeon Valley in Durban by transferring several adults from Bluff Nature Reserve (Alexander 1990). The species is abundant and occurs in several established conservation areas, and therefore does not require additional protection.

Hyperolius tuberilinguis – St. Lucia, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Luke Kemp


H. tuberilinguis is widely distributed north of the atlas region, extending through eastern Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania to Kenya (Poynton and Broadley 1987). It is restricted to the eastern parts of the atlas region, the southern limit just entering Eastern Cape Province in the region of Port Edward (3130AA, AB). In northern KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland and Mpumalanga, it extends inland as far as Nelspruit (2530BD).

This is an easily recognisable species with an unmistakable call. The atlas data are reliable and relatively complete.

Distribution of Hyperolius tuberilinguis. Taken from the FrogMAP database. April 2022.

Further Resources

Virtual Museum (FrogMAP > Search VM > By Scientific or Common Name)

More common names: Groenrietpadda (Afrikaans)

Recommended citation format for this species text:

Alexander GJ, Tippett RM.  Tinker Reed Frog Hyperolius tuberilinguis. BDI, Cape Town.
Available online at http://thebdi.org/2021/10/30/tinker-reed-frog-hyperolius-tuberilinguis/

Recommended citation format: 

This species text has been updated and expanded from the text in the
2004 frog atlas. The reference to the text and the book are as follows:

Alexander GJ 2004 Hyperolius tuberilinguis Tinker Reed Frog. In Minter LR
et al 2004.

Minter LR, Burger M, Harrison JA, Braack HH, Bishop PJ, Kloepfer D (eds)
2004. Atlas and Red Data Book of  the Frogs of South Africa, Lesotho and
Swaziland. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, and Avian Demography
Unit, Cape Town.

Ryan Tippett
Ryan Tippett
Ryan is an enthusiastic contributor to Citizen Science and has added many important and interesting records of fauna and flora. He has been a member of the Virtual Museum since 2014 and has currently submitted over 12,000 records. He is on the expert identification panel for the OdonataMAP project. Ryan is a well-qualified and experienced Field Guide, and Guide Training Instructor. He has spent the last 18 years in the guiding and tourism industries. Ryan loves imparting his passion and knowledge onto others, and it is this that drew him into guide training in particular. Something that he finds incredibly rewarding is seeing how people he's had the privilege of teaching have developed and gone on to greater things. His interests are diverse and include Dragonflies, Birding, Arachnids, Amphibians, wild flowers and succulents, free diving and experiencing big game on foot. With this range of interests, there is always likely be something special just around the corner!