In search of the smallest frog in South Africa

I have often encountered these tiny creatures in (!) and around our house and garden. I am still in search of the exact genus and species and the common name of this little one.  In my search on micro frogs in South Africa I have come upon the Hogsback frog, (also called Rattray’s Forest Frog) which is described as around 21mm in length. They are described as light grey to dark brown and sometimes coppery, with the belly marbled white and dark brown to black.  The range in which it occurs is described as the Hogsback region, the nearby Katberg, Stutterheim, Keiskammahoek and the Peddie mountain forests – making this a good possibility as the one that I am looking for.

The frog in my photo is nothing more than 10mm in length. The possibility is that this could be an immature frog, not fully grown. If it is indeed a Hogsback frog (which is regarded as endangered), I am very grateful, because some of them at least are alive and well and living in my garden! (Not to mention visiting the house now and then.)

Another photo:

And closer:

The quality of the photo’s are not all very good, but I include the photo where the frog sits on the palm of my son’s hand to show the size in perspective.

You can read more about the Hogsback Frog here, and an article what is supposed to be the world’s tiniest frog, found in on the Southeast Asian island of Bornea, which is apparantly 15mm in length. On National Geographic another article on these micro frogs appear.

PS. I have now been able to have the little frog identified as a Bronze Caco, apparently quite common and not endangered. Dr Michael Cunningham,  well known herpetologist, says: “They eventually grow to a maximum size of 23mm. They can be found anywhere from Riversdale to Richard’s Bay, Polokwane to PE (widespread throughout South Africa). More likely you will hear their chip, chip, chip calls, around ponds after rain. It is tiny (nanum = small) but is still a bit of a bully compared with some others from South Africa…such as the Microfrog, or the even smaller Moss Frogs from the Cape, some species of which average less than 15mm but have outsized vocal abilities. The world’s smallest frogs average around 7mm, with similarly sized candidates from tropical Africa, South America and Asia. The average across all frog species is probably less than 30mm. Big frogs are exceptional!”

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