Natal Sand Frog (Tomopterna natalensis)

View the above photo record (by Alicia Culverwell) in FrogMAP here.

Find the Natal Sand Frog in the FBIS database (Freshwater Biodiversity Information System) here.

Family Pyxicephalidae

NATAL SAND FROG – Tomopterna natalensis

(Smith, 1849)


T. natalensis is found in a variety of vegetation types in the Grassland and Savanna biomes. These areas receive annual rainfall of 300–>1000 mm. Breeding takes place in streams, rivers or other places where water flows slowly, but also in standing water.


Breeding begins after the first rains, continuing into midsummer. Males call from exposed positions near the water’s edge, on bare sand, mud or rock. The eggs are usually laid singly or in small groups, in running water. Development is rapid and is completed within 2–3 weeks.

The only recorded predator is the Brown House Snake Lamprophis fuliginosus.

Tomopterna natalensis – Limpopo
Photo by Ryan van Huyssteen

Status and Conservation

Pending the results of future distribution surveys (see remarks under Distribution), this widespread species does not appear to require conservation action.


T. natalensis is recorded from Botswana, Zimbabwe and southern Mozambique and its distribution extends into the eastern part of the atlas region, where it occurs from sea level to the high inland plateau at 2000 m. It is largely absent from the upper slopes of the Drakensberg. It is a common species in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, as well as in the eastern parts of North West and Eastern Cape provinces and throughout Swaziland. The species is uncommon in the Free State and Lesotho.

The distribution map is reasonably complete and accurate in relation to the present taxonomic status and diagnosis of this species. However, the description of additional cryptic species (unpubl. data) may necessitate a re-examination of the distribution of this species. Distribution records should in future be accompanied by recordings of the advertisement calls.

Distribution of Tomopterna natalensis. Taken from the FrogMAP database as at February 2022.

Further Resources

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

More common names: Natal Pyxie (Alternative English Names); Natalse Sandpadda (Afrikaans)

Recommended citation format for this species text:

Channing A, Tippett RM.  Natal Sand Frog Tomopterna natalensis. 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:

Channing A 2004 Tomopterna natalensis Natal Sand 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!