8 smallest frogs

Review of the best according to the editorial board. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective, does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

Frogs are one of the most ancient amphibians on the planet. The places where they cannot be found can be counted on one hand: the Arctic, Antarctica, the Sahara, as well as remote islands in the ocean. There are over 500 types of these creatures. They differ not only in size and appearance, but also in behavior.

Their smallest representatives mainly live in a warm and humid tropical climate, hiding from predators among fallen leaves, grass and trees. They can be found in the forests of Papua New Guinea, Madagascar and the jungles of Brazil. Usually several eggs are laid, from which then fully formed tiny frogs emerge. Below is a description of some of the smallest members of the family.

The smallest frogs

Nomination a place name Length
The smallest frogs 8 Saddle toad (Brachycephalus ephippium ) 19.7 MM
7 Noblella pygmy (Noblella pygmaea) 12.4 MM
6 Cuban dwarf (whistler) (Eleutherodactylus limbatus) 11.8 MM
5 Rhombophryne proportionalis 11.3 MM
4 Gardiner's frog (Sechellophryne gardineri) 11.3 MM
3 Iberia Eleutherodactylus 10 MM
2 Isexon's toad, Brazilian golden frog (Brachycephalus didactylus) 10 MM
1 Paedophryne amanuensis 8 mm

8th place: Saddled toad (Brachycephalus ephippium) – no more than 19.7 mm

Rating: 4.3

Brachycephalus ephippium

A small frog with adults ranging in length from 12.5 to 19.7 mm, with a bright color, inhabiting the mountainous Atlantic coastal forest of southeastern Brazil. Prefers rainforests and is most often found in piles of fallen leaves.

Frogs are bright yellow or orange in color. The iris is completely black. The toad has a sturdy body with short legs.

They were nicknamed saddlers because of the presence of a bone plate on the back, which grows together with the processes of the vertebrae. The toad is poisonous, leads a diurnal lifestyle, eats small insects: mosquitoes, aphids and ticks.

Usually they walk on the litter, clean themselves, wiping their head and body with their limbs. In the dry season, they remain under logs or fallen leaves.

Males are very territorial during the rainy season. When another frog approaches, the male signals both by croaking and by moving his paws up and down in front of his eyes. If the intruder is a male who is not going to leave, then the 'owner of the territory' hugs him and fights, pushing him aside.

Breeding takes place during the rainy season. Male calls consist of a continuous series of beeps lasting from two to six minutes. The males raise their body to show a 'high posture'. The male grabs the female and follows her, choosing a place for laying eggs in fallen leaves or under a log. Females lay up to five large, yellowish-white eggs in about half an hour. When the males leave the mating site, the females turn the eggs over with their hind legs. Females leave eggs unattended. Development is straightforward (no tadpole stage), with hatching of miniature toads in about two months. Newly hatched toads still have a vestigial tail. Pumpkin toads are active foragers. The adult diet consists of small arthropods, primarily colembolans, but also includes mites and insect larvae

Scientists have discovered fluorescence in these toads. In addition, they found that the brightness of the glow depends on the age. The older the frog, the more it fluoresces, especially under ultraviolet radiation. Scientists speculate that fluorescence can be used to improve intraspecific visual communication.

7th place: dwarf Noblella (Noblella pygmaea) – no more than 12.4 mm

Rating: 4.4

Noblella pygmy (Noblella pygmaea)

This species belongs to the craugastoridae family and is endemic to the Cuzco region, in the Peruvian Andes at an altitude of over 3000 meters. It was there that a joint German-American expedition found these individuals, the size of which does not exceed 11.1 mm in males and 12.4 mm in females.

The dwarf frog's color is adapted to life on earth in fallen leaves. Its main color is light brown with dark spots. The frog's back and sides are decorated with dark brown, broken lines. The eyes are also dark brown with an orange ring.

Noblella dwarf has another excellent feature, not inherent in the rest of the dwarf frogs of Peru – a surprisingly long index finger.

To spot a tiny amphibian hiding in the foliage of trees, you need to carefully check every inch of the surrounding area. It is mainly found on the edges of the forest, overgrown with shrubs and grassy plants, or in the so-called 'elven forests' with gnarled, dwarf trees and a grass layer with a high proportion of moss. Thanks to color adjustment and secretive behavior among foliage, it is largely immune from predators.

The new genus was named by the American zoologist Thomas Barbour in 1930 after his friend and colleague Gladwin Kingsley Noble Noblell. Dwarf Noblells live constantly in one place, not moving anywhere even during mating games. Females lay only two eggs at a time in wet leaves or under moss and protect them from insects until frogs hatch from the eggs. The fact that a species is not forced to leave its habitat – even to lay eggs – helps to protect it from natural enemies.

6th place: Cuban dwarf (whistler) (Eleutherodactylus limbatus) – no more than 11.8 mm

Rating: 4.5

Cuban dwarf (whistler) (Eleutherodactylus limbatus)

The Cuban dwarf, as the name implies, is found in Cuba and some other South American countries. It is one of the smallest frogs in the territory – males reach 11.7 mm in size, and slightly larger females grow only up to 11.8 mm.

This frog is dark brown to purple-brown in color, with two straight lateral stripes, white to yellow on the body and yellow to orange on the head. Muzzle and forelegs are yellow. Flanges are black. The hidden thighs have a slightly yellowish line along the entire length of the thigh. The belly is white to cream in color, and the throat is bright yellow, sometimes with faint dark spots.

This species is endemic to Cuba and is found throughout the island at low, medium and high altitudes (up to 1200 m). The frog is active in the daytime, making sounds from the ground. It is a direct development species that lays one large egg under fallen leaves. Food includes ants and small beetles. Moves by small jumps or, more often, by slow walking.

5th place: Rhombophryne proportionalis – no more than 11.3 mm

Rating: 4.6

Rhombophryne proportionalis

Madagascar, an island slightly larger than mainland France, has over 350 species of frogs. Moreover, this number is constantly growing – due to research into tropical forests. And many of the newly discovered frog species are very small.

For example, Rhombophryne proportionalis ('proportional'), from Tsaratann, in the north of Madagascar, grows only up to 11.3 mm. Moreover, females are much larger than males, which, in principle, is typical of many species of amphibians. Rhombophryne proportionalis 'males' reach a body size of 9.7 mm.

Rhombophryne proportionalis is difficult to find and describe. Not only is it one of the smallest frogs in the world, but also its body is colored brownish-brown. Because of this, the animal literally 'merges' with the fallen leaves and bark of trees, and it becomes very difficult to detect it – both for researchers and predators.

But Rhombophryne proportionalis emit rather loud sounds, thanks to which the females find males. The 'male' frogs are very shy, so they stop croaking at the slightest alarm. And due to the fact that they hide under the fallen leaves, it becomes much more difficult to detect them. By the way, the croaking of the frog is quite complex, the sound series includes 9-17 notes, 'pronounced' at noticeable intervals.

4th place: Gardiner's frog (Sechellophryne gardineri) – no more than 11.3 mm

Rating: 4.7

 Gardiner's frog (Sechellophryne gardineri)

Sechellophryne gardineri is another of the smallest frogs in the world. Adults are 10.1 mm long from snout to cloaca in males and 11.5 mm in females. S. gardineri is distributed in a number of forest habitats in the Seychelles, primarily on the Mahe and Silhouette islands.

The head is flat and wide, the eyes are large, the muzzle is pointed, extending beyond the lower jaw. The nostrils are closer to the tip of the snout than to the orbit, and the frog has no skin folds between the eyes. The forearm is thin. The fingers have membranes that do not completely cover the tips, reaching about one third of the total length of the fingers. The lower leg is thin and short. The thighs and thighs are muscular and of about the same length. The thighs and underside are smooth. The tips of the toes are widened and pointed, but have no shoulder straps. The cloaca is directed to the rear. In life, the backs of the specimen consist of seven rows of tubercles. The first row has four tubercles, two of which are located between the eyes and one for each eyelid, and rows from two to seven have two tubercles evenly spaced along the back.

The frog is dimly colored. The thighs are brown with black spots. The back is brown with bronze patches. The belly is black with gray spots. His arms and legs are black. The iris of the eye is golden.

The sounds of S. gardineri are usually heard from fallen leaves and consist of a high-pitched single squeak or whistle, very similar to the sounds of crickets. It has no repetitions or secondary notes and lasts for 0.09 – 0.2 seconds.

It feeds on small invertebrates including ticks, mosquito larvae, ants and amphipods. Eggs are laid in small clusters on damp ground, within 8-16 eggs. at a time. The larvae hatch as fully formed small adult frogs only 3 mm long. Although the Gardiner frog is safe in the regions where it is found, it is classified as endangered.

3rd place: Iberia Eleutherodactylus – no more than 10 mm

Rating: 4.8

Iberia Eleutherodactylus

Eleutherodactylus iberia is the smallest frog in the northern hemisphere. In adulthood, it reaches a length of only about 10 mm.

The dorsal skin is slightly wrinkled, without folds. The head is as broad as the body and as long as it is wide. The muzzle is pointed when viewed from above and from the side. There is a small ridge, it is rounded and slightly concave from the back.

This small frog has a dark brown back coloration with a bright copper stripe in the eye area that gradually changes to orange on the eyelids, turns golden yellow and white behind the eyes, then continues behind and becomes an intermittent dorsolateral stripe near the opening. There is a dashed white line on the sides. There is an orange stripe on the forelegs. The thighs have diagonal white lines crossing from the opening to the knee. The abdominal coloration is dark purple.

Endemic to eastern Cuba. It is known only in the province of Holguín, including near Nibujon at sea level and in Arroyo Suchio (Anacleto) Arriba, on the western slope of Monte Iberia, at an altitude of 600 m.Inhabits under fallen leaves and among fern roots in the secondary deciduous forest in the western slope of Iberia mountain. It feeds mainly on ticks. This species has skin toxins.

2nd place: Izexon's toad, Brazilian golden frog (Brachycephalus didactylus) – no more than 10 mm

Rating: 4.9

Isexon's toad, Brazilian golden frog (Brachycephalus didactylus)

The Brazilian golden frog (Brachycephalus didactylus), also known as the Isexon toad or flea frog, is endemic to southeastern Brazil and is found in central Rio de Janeiro, as well as Serra das Torres in the far south of Espiritu Santo.

Measuring 8.6-10 mm from snout to cloaca, B. didactylus is one of the smallest frog species in the world.

The amphibian got its name 'Brazilian golden frog' primarily because of its color. Almost all of her body is bright orange. Only black eyes, large and covered with translucent skin, stand out. Like many other tropical frogs, the Isexon toad boasts two ridges on the side of its back.

The Brazilian golden frog owes several names to confusion during classification. So, the Izexon toad was named after the herpetologist Eugenio Isexon, one of the first scientists to describe the species. But the nickname 'flea frog' or 'flea frog' she received among the local residents because of its small size.

Despite the bright color, the frog is quite difficult to catch, study and describe. Not only is this species endemic to only one Brazilian region, it is also, in principle, rare.

1st place: Paedophryne amanuensis – no more than 8 mm

Rating: 5.0

Paedophryne amanuensis

Paedophryne amanuensis is the smallest frog in the world. Males only grow up to 7-8 mm! But the size of the females is unknown, since the 'females' have not yet come across to scientists. Paedophryne amanuensis is found only in Papua New Guinea.

The frog is colored dark brown, which helps it hide in the fallen leaves. In addition, there are rust-colored stains on the back. But the belly is lighter – it can even be painted in a slate gray tone. The frog has a short and wide snout, large eyes and tiny legs with even tinier, rudimentary toes.

Leads a nocturnal terrestrial lifestyle. Like most miniature frogs, it lives in damp forest litter. It is assumed that it also reproduces through direct development, skipping the tadpole stage. However, since only males were observed, the details of their reproductive behavior are unknown.

The 'singing' of the frog is also interesting. Paedophryne amanuensis produces high notes, and very quickly – 'pronounces' up to 1.5 tones per second.

They feed on small invertebrates such as acarias and colembolans. Due to its small size and relatively widespread abundance, P. amanuensis is probably an important member of tropical rainforest ecosystems. As a small species, it is probably more susceptible to invertebrate predation, which may explain its absence in aquatic habitats and a tendency to inhabit highlands, where the diversity of invertebrates is less than in lowlands.


Attention! This rating is subjective and does not constitute an advertisement and does not serve as a purchase guide. Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

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