AmphibiaWeb - Alytidae


(Translations may not be accurate.)


12 species in 3 genera

Commonly Called Midwife Toads and Painted Toads

Alytes obstetricans obstetricans
Photo by Michael Frede
(Click for family gallery)

The family Alytidae consists of small to medium-sized frogs generally found associated with water and having a biphasic life history, with type III pond-type larvae that retain ribs post-metamorphosis. Frogs known as the Midwife Toads (Alytes) look superficially like toads, and the males attach egg clutches to their back and thighs as a form of parental care. The male carries the clutch until the larvae are ready to hatch, at which point he releases the tadpoles into bodies of water.

Alytidae also includes Latonia nigriventer, which was thought to be extinct when its wetland habitat in the Hula Valley of Northern Israel was drained in the 1950's for development. In 2011, it was rediscovered in remnant wetlands and since has been found in nearby ditches and drainages. With new molecular samples, it was placed in Latonia, sister to Discoglossus.

This is a primitive species group of two subfamilies, Alytinae and Discoglossinae, which Black et al (2010) calculates to have diverged from each other in the Cretaceous. Alytidae is the sister group of Bombinatoridae.

Written by AmphibiaWeb

Notable Family Characteristics

  • Terrestrial and fossorial to aquatic species
  • Found near or in water in rocky to open grassland and forested habitats
  • Males of Alytes carry strings of eggs, adhered to his back and thighs, until they hatch, when he releases the tadpoles into water
  • Tadpoles, Type III
  • Amplexus inguinal
  • Morphological characters include: 1) palatines absent in skull; 2) frontoparietals paired; 3) eight presacral stegochrodal vertebrae
  • Distribution limited to western Europe and North Africa Mediterranean, and in a limited area of Israel
Alytidae Richness map

Cartography Credit: Zoe Yoo, UC Berkeley
Range maps sources: AmphibiaWeb, UC Berkeley, and IUCN RedList

Relevant Reference

Blackburn, D. C., D. P. Bickford, A. C. Diesmos, D. T. Iskandar, and R. M. Brown. 2010. An ancient origin for the enigmatic Flat-headed Frogs (Bombinatoridae: Barbourula) from the islands of Southeast Asia. PLoS (Public Library of Science) One 5 (8: e 12090): 1–8.

Vitt, L. J., and J. P. Caldwell. 2013. Herpetology. An Introductory Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles. Fourth Edition. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Subfamily Alytinae (6 species)

Genus Alytes (6 species)    [subfamily Alytinae]
Alytes almogavarii account no photos no sound/video
Alytes (Alytes) obstetricans account photos no sound/video
Alytes (Ammoryctis) cisternasii account photos no sound/video
Alytes (Baleaphryne) dickhilleni account photos no sound/video
Alytes (Baleaphryne) maurus account photos no sound/video
Alytes (Baleaphryne) muletensis account photos no sound/video
Subfamily Discoglossinae (6 species)

Genus Discoglossus (5 species)    [subfamily Discoglossinae]
Discoglossus galganoi account photos no sound/video
Discoglossus montalentii account photos no sound/video
Discoglossus pictus account photos no sound/video
Discoglossus sardus account photos no sound/video
Discoglossus scovazzi no account photos no sound/video

Genus Latonia (1 species)    [subfamily Discoglossinae]
Latonia nigriventer account photos no sound/video

Citation: AmphibiaWeb: Information on amphibian biology and conservation. [web application]. Berkeley, California: AmphibiaWeb. Available: (Accessed:

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