Whistling Rain Frog (Breviceps sopranus)

View the above photo record (by M Douglas) in FrogMAP here.

Find the Whistling Rain Frog in the FBIS database (Freshwater Biodiversity Information System) here.

Family Breviceptidae

WHISTLING RAIN FROG – Breviceps sopranus

Minter, 2003


The males of B. sopranus range from 22–26.2 mm (N = 14) in body length. Morphologically, the species is difficult to separate from B. mossambicus and B. bagginsi, but can be easily distinguished from all Breviceps species by it’s advertisement call, a series of long, unpulsed, high-pitched whistles. Each calls varies from 0.6–1.98 s in duration and from 2755–3468 Hz in frequency (N = 20; Minter 2003).


B. sopranus inhabits a variety of vegetation types within the Forest and Savanna biomes: it is found in the dense, herbaceous undercover of the Sand Forest at St Lucia and Dukuduku, Afromontane Forest on the northern slopes of the Lebombo Mountains at Jozini, and the sandy rhyolitic soils of the Lebombo Arid Mountain Bushveld at Mlawula Nature Reserve (Swaziland) and Komatipoort (Minter 1998, 2003).

Breviceps sopranus – Near Hluhluwe, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by M. Booysens

At St Lucia, B. sopranus occurs in forest while B. mossambicus occupies the open grassy areas between forest patches. In bushveld habitats, B. sopranus occurs in sympatry with B. adspersus.


Breeding takes place between early October and early January. Choruses develop at any time of day, during light to heavy rain, but unless this is followed by drizzle or heavy mist, cease immediately afterward. Calling males often take up elevated positions on fallen branches or small plants, or call from the soil surface (Minter 1998, 2003). Amplexus and oviposition have not been observed.

Breviceps sopranus – Kosi Bay, KwaZulu-Natal
Photo by Ryan Tippett

Status and Conservation


B. sopranus is a recently described species (Minter 2003). Since the distribution and biology of this species are poorly known, an accurate assessment of its conservation status is not possible at present. It is therefore assigned to the category “Data Deficient”. The species occurs in the Hluhluwe and Mkuze Game Reserves and the Greater St Lucia Wetland National Park in South Africa, and the Mlawula Nature Reserve in Swaziland.


Outside of these protected areas much of the natural habitat of this species has been destroyed by the farming of crops such as sugarcane, and by deforestation in the Dukuduku forest.

Conservation actions

Distribution, life history and ecological data are urgently needed in order to adequately address the conservation needs of this species.


B. sopranus is known only from the atlas region at present, but may also occur in southern Mozambique. It has been recorded as far south as Mtunzini (2831DD) in KwaZulu-Natal, and it follows the Lebombo Mountains northward along the eastern border of Swaziland to Komatipoort (2531BD) in Mpumalanga (Passmore and Carruthers 1995; Minter 1998, 2003).

The atlas data are accurate but incomplete. The unusual call may easily be mistaken for that of an insect or bird, particularly when heard during the day. This may have contributed to the paucity of distribution data.

Distribution of Breviceps sopranus. Taken from the FrogMAP database. April 2022.

Further Resources

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

More common names: Fluitreënpadda (Afrikaans)

Recommended citation format for this species text:

Minter LR, Tippett RM.  Whistling Rain Frog Breviceps sopranus. BDI, Cape Town.
Available online at http://thebdi.org/2021/11/15/whistling-rain-frog-breviceps-sopranus/

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:

Minter LR 2004 Breviceps sopranus Whistling Rain 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!