Painted Reed Frog

Painted Reed Frog, Botswana, Africa

Painted Reed Frog, Botswana, Africa

This tiny frog, also called the marbled reed frog, can be found in African marshes, reed beds, and other water sources.


An abundant species in sub-Saharan Africa, Hyperolius marmoratus are insectivores; they eat crickets and a variety of other small insects.


Their colors and patterns are extremely variable.  And although their psychedelic backs look wild and dramatic, this tiny frog blends in to the surroundings.


Knowing what to look for, our guide hunted around in the marshy grass and found this frog in an instant.


Less than two inches long (43 mm) and hidden on a reed, he was quietly resting in the sun.


Frogs are fascinating creatures for their calls.  This species spends the day basking, and then at night the male takes up his specific calling site.


He calls consistently from dusk to midnight.  This occurs for a few nights in a row, and eventually the female makes her selection.  The eggs are laid in the water, between 150 and 650 eggs.


More about the African painted reed frog here.


The frog has a relatively large vocal sac that amplifies his call.  During mating season when all the frogs are calling, the chorus is loud and constant.


Walking to my tent after dinner in the dark, the striking chorus emanating from the reeds (that are silent during the day) stopped me in my tracks. We visitors do not linger, however, outdoors in the dark in Africa.


Click on this BBC You Tube clip to hear and see this delightful frog.


A wildly-patterned thumb-sized frog that fills the African night with his earnest song…another reminder of the grandness of life on earth.


Photo credit:  Athena Alexander




72 thoughts on “Painted Reed Frog

  1. Very fascinating information of these reed frogs. It must be quite an experience listening to their chorus!! Their colour is so different to other frogs and such a lovely marbled pattern too. Thanks for this photo write-up, Jet. I agree that there’s beauty all around us!

    • I’m really happy you enjoyed the reed frog, Iris. They are such lovely creatures. And your heartfelt poetry does an exquisite job of relaying your appreciation for life’s beauties. My thanks~~

  2. He looks like he has had a serious case of tie-dye or is it tye-dye? I should think the wee frog might need some throat lozenges for that kind of intense courting. One of the reasons i love having a guide are these special finds that I surely would never pick up on myself.

    • Absolutely Sue. What I enjoy the most about the having the luxury of a guide is coming across the hidden beauties. Your comment made me smile, and how wonderful to start my week with your fun words. Have a great week, Sue; and thank you, as always, for your visit.

    • Hi Roslyn! It takes a lot of energy for the male to sing his heart out, and this is how the female knows she has a strong and capable mate. I’m really glad you enjoyed the reed frog today with me.

  3. Good morning, Jet. Wow! I can’t believe there is this colorful and beautiful frog! Tiny! Cute! I think the one in your photo is much prettier than the one in the video. They sound good too. 😉
    Thanks for sharing. It’s so nice to see/read places/animals that I don’t think I will have a chance to see (too many on my list already ;-).
    Have a wonderful day.

    • Yes, there are so many millions of gorgeous creatures in this world, aren’t there Helen? It’s why I like to share a few here, it brings me great pleasure. I appreciate your warm comment and visit, thank you.

  4. What a lovely little frog! Thanks for sharing your story, and the link to the video (listening to David Attenborough takes me back to boyhood, and seeing all his work on the BBC – he’s a legend!)
    Thanks again, and have a great week!

    • I was delighted to find this video while researching for the post. And a complete joy to find it was David Attenborough, one of my heroes. I am always delighted to receive your visits and comments, pc, thank you so much. You, too, have a great week~~

  5. Very interesting to learn about this unusual creature! Reminds me of our tiny American green tree frogs who cling to the reeds in our marshes….Thanks as always for sharing your discoveries. His coloring is so unique and beautiful.

  6. Oh what a cute little guy….

    I love this sentence:” A wildly-patterned thumb-sized frog that fills the African night with his earnest song…another reminder of the grandness of life on earth.”


  7. Oh, this post is very close to my heart. I totally adore frogs! I’ve certainly never seen one like this before. I love the striking pattern and colours. It’s so aptly named—it really does look as if someone took a paintbrush to this little guy. What a joy it would be to see these beautiful frogs and to listen to their sweet calls (I loved the BBC clip too). Excellent photo! Thanks for sharing these exotic little beauties with us. Wishing you and yours a very happy day! :))

    • A total delight to receive your life-loving comment, Jeannie, thanks so much. I’m glad you had the chance to see the BBC clip, because it is rare to actually get to see the frog’s vocal sac and call. My thanks to you for brightening my day.

  8. Such a beautiful little creature! And an informative post, Jet. I have to say I never spotted one in my years in Africa so thank you for adding to my knowledge 🙂

    • I was so happy to find that great video, Resa, and glad you had a minute to watch it. Seeing the vocal sac and the frog like that must’ve taken them hours and hours to discover and film. Your interest and comment are appreciated.

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