AmphibiaWeb - Hyperolius quinquevittatus


(Translations may not be accurate.)

Hyperolius quinquevittatus Bocage, 1866
Five-striped Reed Frog
family: Hyperoliidae
genus: Hyperolius

© 2011 Martin Pickersgill (1 of 6)
Conservation Status (definitions)
IUCN Red List Status Account Least Concern (LC)
National Status None
Regional Status None



View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
View Bd and Bsal data (5 records).

A long, very slender savanna-living Hyperolius (males 18–24 mm) from southern Africa with longitudinal striping. Pupil horizontal. Two colour patterns exist. They may, according to Poynton and Broadley (1987), be juvenile and female phases since they note that the middorsal stripe disappears with age, without, however, stating how they determine the age of the mature males.

Phase J: Dorsum with six blackish brown longitudinal stripes, separating five light bands, one middorsal, a dorsolateral pair and a lateral pair. The middorsal and lateral light stripes are grass green, as is the head, while the dorsolateral pair are light golden brown. Throat yellow, ventrum whitish, limbs and toes red.

Phase F: The two central black stripes are missing, so that dorsum is uniform light green with two blackish brown stripes delimiting a green lateral stripe. Whether H. quinquevittatus really does belong to the nasutus group is not known. Poynton and Broadley (1987) think it is closer to H. kivuensis. Both subspecies of quinquevittatus are sympatric with H. nasutus. They seem to have the same male calling site and habitat requirements, but H. quinquevittatus generally occurs at higher altitudes.

Two subspecies are recognised, H. q. quinquevittatus in the greater part of the range, and H. q. mertensi Poynton 1964 from the Nyika plateau in Malawi. The latter is characteristically greenish with two dark longitudinal lines on flanks. The adults of H. q. mertensi thus seems to be identical to H. q. quinquevittatus phase F in morphology and pattern, while the newly metamorphosed specimens are striped. Poynton and Broadley (1987) further mention differences in the striped juveniles of the two subspecies. According to my material the more eastern samples of H. q. quinquevittatus show a greater frequency of the phase F among males than western material from R. D. Congo, which could indicate a transition to H. q. mertensi, but Poynton and Broadley (1987) consider this doubtful.

Distribution and Habitat

Country distribution from AmphibiaWeb's database: Angola, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, United Republic of, Zambia


View distribution map in BerkeleyMapper.
View Bd and Bsal data (5 records).
A savanna species. H. q. quinquevittatus is distributed in northern Angola, southern R. D. Congo, the northern half of Zambia and part of Malawi. H. q. mertensi is a savanna species from grasslands at 1800 m to 2300 m on the Nyika Plateau, northern Zambia and Malawi.

Life History, Abundance, Activity, and Special Behaviors
The males call from grass stems near swampy patches. The voice is a brief unmelodic “creak” uttered singly with rather long intervals. The sonogram shows that the call consists of a small number of figures in very rapid succession.

This species shows developmental changes in patterning, with two phases, J (juveniles and many mature males) and F (mature females and some mature males). All newly metamorphosed individuals are phase J, which is normally brownish to green with paired light dorsolateral lines, or an hourglass pattern. All females, and some males, develop into phase F before the first breeding season. Phase F is often colorful and variable, showing the diagnostic color characteristics for the species or subspecies. Either well-defined morphs may be present, or graded variation.

This account was taken from "Treefrogs of Africa" by Arne Schiøtz with kind permission from Edition Chimaira publishers, Frankfurt am Main.


Poynton, J. C. and Broadley, D. G. (1987). ''Amphibia Zambesiaca 3. Rhacophoridae and Hyperoliidae.'' Annals of the Natal Museum, 28, 161-229.

Schiøtz, A. (1999). Treefrogs of Africa. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt am Main.

Originally submitted by: Arne Schiøtz (first posted 2001-01-09)
Edited by: Kellie Whittaker (2008-09-10)

Species Account Citation: AmphibiaWeb 2008 Hyperolius quinquevittatus: Five-striped Reed Frog <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed Mar 2, 2024.

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Citation: AmphibiaWeb. 2024. <> University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA. Accessed 2 Mar 2024.

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