Broad-banded Grass Frog (Ptychadena mossambica)

View the above photo record (by Toby Esplin) in FrogMAP here.

Find the Broad-banded Grass Frog in the FBIS database (Freshwater Biodiversity Information System) here.

Family Ptychadenidae

BROAD-BANDED GRASS FROG – Ptychadena mossambica

(Peters, 1854)


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).


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.

Status and Conservation

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.


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.

Further Resources

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

More common names: Breëband-graspadda (Afrikaans)

Recommended citation format for this species text:

Minter LR, Passmore NI, Tippett RM.  Broad-banded Grass Frog Ptychadena mossambica. BDI, Cape Town.
Available online at

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, Passmore NI 2004 Ptychadena mossambica Broad-banded Grass 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!