Whenever we experienced a rain shower during our December 2021 visit to the Satara area of the Kruger National Park – and this was a regular occurrence – the high-pitched calls of Banded Rubber Frogs quickly filled the air. Once the rain subsided we’d go looking for them around the camp and usually found at least a few individuals.
Banded Rubber Frogs occur from southern Somalia to Angola and South Africa. In our country specifically they’re found from northern Kwazulu-Natal, through Mpumalanga, Limpopo and Gauteng to the North West Province. The IUCN considers the species to be of least concern.
Banded Rubber Frogs inhabit savanna habitats, where they hide under rocks and logs, inside tree trunks or termite mounds, tunnels dug by other animals and even in and around houses and drains. They feed mainly on ants and termites, but will also include other invertebrates in their diet. They breed in temporary pools and pans and other similarly shallow watery habitats after the first rains have fallen. Females lay between 300 and 1,500 eggs, which hatch after 4 days, in a mass of “jelly” that surrounds each egg, usually attached to emergent vegetation in the water. The tadpoles are gregarious and if they have sufficient food may complete their metamorphosis in 1½ to 3 months. Adults grow to about 6cm long.
Banded Rubber Frogs rarely jump, preferring to walk or run. When threatened they stiffen their legs and inflate their bodies, showing off their bright warning colouration to great effect. These warning colours should be heeded, for the Banded Rubber Frog can secrete cardiotoxic poisons through their skin which, if it gets into the skin or bloodstream in sufficient quantities can cause humans to experience painful swelling, nausea, headaches, and difficulty breathing. The poison can be deadly to smaller creatures.
These photographs of Banded Rubber Frogs were taken during a previous visit to Satara in 2019: