Added 22 September 2003. Last updated 31 January 2023: added Families Alsodidae, Hylodidae, Micrixalidae and Nyctibatrachidae and updated Quick Index.

A rough guide to


The classification, or taxonomy, of the frogs and toads is quite complicated and often disputed, even among scientists themselves. While most can agree on the species, how they fit together to form families is not always clear.

The following is a rough guide to the different families. It does not claim to be completely authoritative or completely accurate, but it follows the rough scheme in Bartlett, who in turn followed Duellman and Frost (1985 & 1986), and was brought up to date using the taxonomic model at the now-defunct website LivingUnderworld. Any mistakes are however my own! Its main goal is to give you an idea of the characteristics of some of the better-known frogs and toads and how they fit in with one another.

It should be noted that at a higher level, both frogs and toads (Anura) and newts and salamanders (Caudata or Urodela), together with the caecilians (Gymnophiona) are placed together in the Lissamphibia, to distinguish them from the ancient (and extinct) forms Labyrinthodontia and Lepospondyli.

Note, October 2016

Since this page was put up over 10 years ago, there have been a number of large-scale revisions of the taxonomy of the Neobatrachia. These are now included on this page. However the reader should be aware that there is still some disagreement and uncertainty over the exact relationships between these groups.

Note, January 2023

The previous note continues to apply! This page is still under revision. Any final rearrangement is likely to be tentative as there still appears to be much confusion and ongoing uncertainty at the higher levels of taxonomic classification, in particular at the Superfamily level and the division into Archaeobatrachia, Mesobatrachia and Neobatrachia. Relationships at Family level are more, but not totally, certain. The Family Pseudidae is now considered invalid, the genus Pseudis being reassigned to the Subfamily Hylinae of the Family Hylidae.

The Bibliography on some pages is blank as we are currently trying simply to bring the higher level groups (families and subfamilies) up to date, and to that end have used AmphibiaWeb, Amphibian Species of the World, and Wikipedia (the latter itself extensively using the former two sources for this information).




Family Allophrynidae

Family Alsodidae, Spiny-Chest Frogs, Ground Frogs, Rapids Frogs

Family Alytidae, Painted Frogs 

Family Artholeptidae, Sub-Saharan Frogs

Family Ascaphidae, Tailed Frogs

Family Bombinatoridae, Fire-Bellied Toads

Family Brachycephalidae, Bronze Frogs 

Family Brevicipitidae, Rain Frogs

Family Bufonidae, True Toads 

Family Centrolenidae, Ghost/Glass Frogs 

Family Ceratobatrachidae, Triangle Frogs, Himalayan and Maritime Pacific Frogs

Family Ceratophryidae, Common Horned Frogs

Family Ceuthomantidae, Hidden Treefrogs, Emerald-Barred Frogs

Family Conrauidae, Giant Frogs, Slippery Frogs

Family Craugastoridae, Fleshbelly Frogs, Brittle-Belly Frogs, Robber Frogs

Family Dendrobatidae, Poison Dart Frogs 

Family Dicroglossidae, Forked-Tongue Frogs, Cricket Frogs

Family Eleutherodactylidae, Rain Frogs

Family Heleophrynidae, S African Ghost Frogs

Family Hemisotidae, Shovel-Snouted Frogs

Family Hemiphractidae, Horned Frogs, Marsupial Frogs

Family Hylidae, Tree Frogs

Family Hylodidae, Giant Neotropical Torrent Frogs

Family Hyperoliidae, Reed and Bush Frogs 

Family Leiopelmatidae, New Zealand Frogs

Family Leptodactylidae, Leptodactylid Frogs

Family Mantellidae, Mantellas

Family Megophryidae, Asian Toads 

Family Micrixalidae, Dancing Frogs, Tropical Frogs, Torrent Frogs

Family Microhylidae, Narrow-Mouthed Frogs 

Family Myobatrachidae, Antipodean Frogs 

Family Nasikabatrachidae, Indian Burrowing Frog

Family Nyctibatrachidae, Night Frogs, Fanged Frogs, Wrinkled Frogs, Water Frogs

Family Pelobatidae, European Spadefoot Toads

Family Pelodytidae, Parsley Frogs

Family Petropedetidae – African Torrent Frogs, African Water Frogs

Family Pipidae, Clawed Frogs

Family Ptychadenidae, Grassland Frogs

Family Pyxicephalidae, African Bullfrogs

Family Ranidae, True/Pool Frogs

Family Ranixalidae, Indian Frogs, Leaping Frogs

Family Rhacophoridae, Foam-Nest Frogs

Family Rhinodermatidae, Mouth-Brooding Frogs

Family Rhinophrynidae, Burrowing Toad

Family Scaphiopodidae, Spadefoot Toads

Family Sooglossidae, Seychelles Frogs

Family Strabomantidae – Terrestrial-Breeding Frogs


Suborder Archaeobatrachia [literally, "old" or "ancient" frogs]


Superfamily Discoglossoidea


Family Alytidae - Painted Frogs

2 genera and 10 species. Tongue cannot be extended, unlike in most other anurans. Includes Discoglossus, Painted Frogs and Alytes, the Midwife Toads. The family is known as Discoglossidae in older literature.



Family Ascaphidae - Tailed Frogs: 2 species

1-2 species of the North American genus Ascaphus, or "tailed frog", so-called because of its. Lacks tympanic membrame but retains primitive tail-wagging muscles even though tadpole phase is omitted.



Family Bombinatoridae - Fire-Bellied Toads

2 genera, Bombina, the Fire-Bellied Toads, and Barbourula, a similarly aquatic genus of 2 species from the Philippines.



Family Leiopelmatidae - New Zealand Frogs

3-4 species of the genus Leiopelma. In common with Ascaphus (which was once considered part of this family), lacks tympanic membrame but retains primitive tail-wagging muscles even though tadpole phase is omitted. The only native frogs to New Zealand.


Superfamily Pelobatoidea




Family Megophryidae: 136 species

Considered a subfamily of the Pelobatidae by some. Includes the genus Megophrys (22 species) of which the Asian horned frog, M. montana, is perhaps the only well-known representative, plus 9-10 other genera from SE Asia and the Indo-Australian archipelago.

Subfamily Leptobrachiinae

5 genera, over 220 species

Subfamily Megophryinae



Family Pelobatidae - European Spadefoot Toads: 6 species

Single genus, Pelobates.



Family Pelodytidae - Parsley Frogs: 5 species

Single genus Pelodytes with species, including the European Parsley Frog, Pelodytes punctatus, in widely separated ranges.



Family Scaphiopodidae - American Spadefoot Toads: 7 species

Formerly considered a part of the Pelobatidae. Includes Scaphiophus (North American Spadefoot Toads: 6 species) and monotypic Spea. These species from North America are usually from very arid environments and in the wild often burrow down into the soil and protect themselves in a cocoon of several layers of shed skin. However, they have been kept successfully in the terrarium without resorting to these conditions.


Superfamily Pipoidea




Family Pipidae - Clawed Frogs: 30 species

Very aquatic group that lack tongues.



Subfamily Dactylethrinae

3 genera, 34 species.



Subfamily Pipinae

Contains single genus Pipa, which also has an interesting mode of reproduction. All seven species in this genus are totally aquatic and found in the north of South America.



Family Rhinophrynidae - Burrowing Toad: 1 species

The Mexican Burrowing Toad, Rhinophrynus dorsalis, from southern US as far south as Costa Rica.

Suborder Neobatrachia [literally, "new frogs"]

Superfamily Brachycephaloidea

Family Brachycephalidae - Bronze Frogs, Saddleback Toads: 81 species

"Gold frogs": very small frogs found on the coast of S Brazil. 2 genera are recognised, Brachycephalus (Saddleback Toads, 39 species) and Ischnochema (Robber Frogs, 42 species).

Family Craugastoridae - Fleshbelly Frogs, Brittle-Belly Frogs, Robber Frogs: 129 species

Found from southern US through Central and South America. 2 genera.

Family Ceuthomantidae – Hidden Treefrogs, Emerald-Barred Frogs: 4 species

Not considered a full family by all authorities.

Family Eleutherodactylidae – Rain Frogs: >200 species

Formerly a subfamily of the Family Leptodactylidae, the latter itself being greatly reduced in size due to reassignment of genera.

Subfamily Eleutherodactylinae

2 genera, 216 species

Subfamily Phyzelaphryinae

2 genera, 12 species

Family Strabomantidae – Terrestrial-Breeding Frogs

May be considered a subfamily of Craugastoridae by some authorities.

Subfamily Holoadeninae

9 genera

Subfamily Hypodactylinae

1 genus, 15 species

Subfamily Pristimantinae

7 genera

Subfamily Strabomantinae

1 genus, 16 species


Superfamily Bufonoidea






Family Bufonidae - True Toads: 330+ species

Worldwide distribution with the exception of Australia (except for the imported and pestilential Cane Toad, B. marinus), Madagascar and most oceanic islands [Coborn]. Although Bufo species have the typical dry warty skin of the typical toads, not all species in this family resemble the "average toad" so closely: the Atelops "toads", better known as Harlequin Frogs, are quite delicate. There are 25 genera in the Bufonidae.



Family Heleophrynidae - South African Ghost Frogs: 8 species

2 genera, confined to southern Africa.



Family Myobatrachidae - Antipodean Frogs: 122 species

All species confined to Australia and New Guinea. Contains a wide variety of shapes and lifestyles.



Subfamily Limnodynastinae

11 genera



Subfamily Myobatrachinae

12 genera 



Family Rhinodermatidae - Mouth-Brooding Frogs: 2 species

As their name suggests, both species in this family incubate their eggs inside their mouths. Both are found at the tip of South America.


Superfamily Hyloidea




Family Allophrynidae: 1 species

Single species Allophryne ruthveni.

Family Alsodidae- Spiny-Chest Frogs, Ground Frogs, Rapids Frogs

3 genera, 30 species, distributed in S America from S Brazil to Patagonia



Family Centrolenidae – Glass/Ghost Frogs: 60 species

Two genera: found in Central and South America. Centrolene is a monotypic genus: Centrolenella contains the remaining species, which are collectively sometimes referred to as "glass" or "ghost frogs" owing to their translucent skin through which internal organs can sometimes be seen. Most of this family are otherwise similar in appearance to treefrogs.

Subfamily Centroleninae

9 genera, 119 species

Subfamily Hyalinobatrachinae

2 genera, 37 species

Family Ceratophryidae – Common Horned Frogs

3 genera, 12 species. Formerly a subfamily of the Leptodactylidae. Contains some very popular species.

Family Hemiphractidae – Horned Frogs, Marsupial Frogs: 122 species

Formerly considered a subfamily of Hylidae: 6 genera of frogs distinguished by unusual breeding behaviour. Includes the marsupial frogs, Gastrotheca. Subfamilies for this family have now been rejected, but classification is still controversial.

Family Hylodidae – Giant Neotropical Torrent Frogs, Torrent Frogs, Stream-Dwelling Frogs: 49 species

Distributed across S Brazil and N Argentina



Family Hylidae - Tree Frogs: 640+ species

Mostly but not all arboreal frogs. 3 subfamilies:



Subfamily Hylinae

Large subfamily with 23 genera, although classification is an ongoing process. These are the "typical" treefrogs, and includes the Cricket Frogs, Acris (2 species), Tree Frogs, Hyla (250 species), Osteopilus (3 species: includes the Cuban Tree Frog, O. septentrionalis), Chorus Frogs, Pseudacris (about 12 species), Pseudis (7 species, the tadpoles being many times the length of the adults, reaching up to 10"/25cm), Lysapsus and Smiliscus (6 species found in N, C and S America). Distribution is across both Old and New World, with the exception of Australia (the Australian treefrogs are actually now considered members of the Pelodryadinae, see below).



Subfamily Pelodryadinae

3 genera, all from the Australo-Papuan region, including the popular Litoria (over 100 species, including the deservedly popular White's Tree Frog, L. caerulea) which is distributed across the entire region, and Nyctimistes (25 species). The species in this subfamily were formerly assigned to the Hylinae (Tree Frogs).



Subfamily Phyllomedusinae

3 genera found from Mexico as far south as Argentina. Includes Agalychnis (8 species, including the Red-Eyed Tree Frog, A. callidryas), Pachymedusa (1 species) and Phyllomedusa (33 species). Most of these frogs are beautiful and interesting but rather delicate captives.

Family Leptodactylidae - Southern Frogs: over 200 species

Formerly over 1,100 species, but recently greatly reduced in size as many former leptodactylid species were reassigned to new families. Formerly included the horned frogs and the large genus Eleutherodactylus which contains over 400 species.

Subfamily Leiuperinae

5 genera, 90 species

Subfamily Leptodactylinae

4 genera, 96 species

Subfamily Paratelmatobiinae

4 genera, 13 species


Superfamily Ranoidea




Family Arthroleptidae - Sub-Saharan Frogs: 70+ species




Subfamily Arthroleptinae

"Squeakers", 2 genera and 67 species found in sub-Saharan Africa.



Subfamily Astylosterninae

5 genera and 30 species found in sub-Saharan Africa: frogs with vertical pupils.

Subfamily Leptopelinae

Contains the single large genus Leptopelis.

Family Brevicipitidae – Rain Frogs

Formerly considered a subfamily of Microhylidae. 5 genera: Balebreviceps, Breviceps, Callulina, Probreviceps and Spelaeophryne (monotypic).

Family Ceratobatrachidae – Triangle Frogs, Himalayan and Maritime Pacific Frogs

Raised from being a subfamily of Family Ranidae. Characterised by laying eggs outside of water and direct development of eggs into froglets without the intermediate tadpole stage.

Subfamily Alcalinae

1 genus (Alcalus), 5 species

Subfamily Ceratobatrachinae

2 genera (Cornufer, Platymantis), over 80 species

Subfamily Liuraninae

1 genus (Liurana), 4 species, all found in the eastern Himalayas

Family Conrauidae – Giant Frogs, Slippery Frogs

1 genus, Conraua, of 7 species, including the world's largest frog, the Goliath Frog Conraua goliath. Formerly included in the Family Ranidae.



Family Dendrobatidae - Poison Dart Frogs: 215 species

A family of small but beautiful tropical frogs which are highly desirable to many keepers. The skin toxins vary from mildly to highly dangerous, although it seems that after about 18 months in captivity their power declines greatly. This is attributed to the absence of the local ants in captivity which in the wild would make up a considerable part of their diet. Although traditionally made up of four genera (Colostethus, Dendrobates, Epipedobates, Phyllobates), up to ten are accepted by some authorities (the lesser-known consisting of Allobates, Aromobates, Cryptophyllobates, Mannophryne, Minyobates and Nephelobates).

Family Dicroglossidae – Forked-Tongue Frogs, Cricket Frogs: 223 species

Includes many frogs formerly assigned to the Family Ranidae. Distributed in tropical and subtropical Africa and Asia.

Subfamily Dicroglossinae

12 genera and 206 species

Subfamily Occidozyginae

3 genera and 17 species



Family Hemisotidae - Shovel-Nosed Frogs: 9 species

Single genus of 9 species from sub-Saharan Africa: sometimes considered part of the Family Ranidae or a subfamily.



Family Hyperoliidae - Reed and Bush Frogs: 300 species

Restricted to the African continent and Madagascar and the Seychelles. Of these, usually only the Hyperolius (Reed Frog) species are seen in the pet trade. The family also includes Kassina (3 species) and Leptopelis (sometimes known as Bush Frogs).



Subfamily Hyperoliinae

12 genera: Hyperolius is a very large genus. The others are Acanthixalus, Afrixalus, Alexteroon, Arlequin3us, Callixalus, Chlorolius, Chrysobatrachus, Cryptothylax, Heterixalus, Kassinula and Nesionixalus.



Subfamily Kassininae

5 genera: Kassina, Opisthothylax (monotypic), Paracassina, Phlyctimantis and Semnodactylus.



Subfamily Tachycneminae

One monotypic genus from the Seychelles.



Family Mantellidae - Mantellas: 145 species

5 genera. This includes the fabulously beautiful and delicate Mantellas (genus Mantella), reminiscent in appearance of some poison dart frogs. All are native to the rainforests of Madagascar. Despite the apparent similarity to poison dart frogs, mantellas need to be kept somewhat cooler. Apart from Mantella, the subfamily includes the genera Aglyptodactylus, Boophis, Laliostoma and Mantidactylus.



Family Microhylidae - Narrow-Mouthed Frogs: 300+ species

Almost worldwide distribution, including Australia. The typical species is rather round and tends to burrow, although there are some arboreal species from Madagascar. The family includes the blood-red Discophus species, better known as Tomato Frogs, the Narrow-Mouthed Frogs, Gastrophryne sp. Apart from a few species such as the Tomato Frog, there is little information commonly available on these anurans.

Subfamily Adelastinae

Single species.



Subfamily Asterophryinae

Found in the Australo-Papuan region. 8 genera: Asterophrys, Barygenys, Callulops, Hylophorbus, Mantophryne, Pherohapsis (monotypic), Xenobatrachus and Xenorhina.



Subfamily Breviciptinae

5 genera: Balebreviceps, Breviceps, Callulina (monotypic), Probreviceps and Spelaeophryne.

Subfamily Chaperininae

Single species.



Subfamily Cophylinae

7 genera: Anodonthyla, Cophyla, Madecassophryne, Platypelis, Plethodontohyla and Stumpffia.



Subfamily Dyscophinae

2 genera, Calluella and Discophus - the latter includes the popular Tomato Frogs.

Subfamily Gastrophryninae

11 genera.



Subfamily Genophryninae

Found in the Australo-Papuan region: two genera, Cophixalus and Sphenophryne, occur in Australia, the other five being restricted to New Guinea.

Subfamily Hoplophryninae

3 species in 2 genera.

Subfamily Kalophryninae

1 genus, Kalophryne.



Subfamily Melanobatrachinae

1 species, Melanobatrachus. Formerly contained the genera Hoplophryne and Parhoplophryne, which were both subsequently placed in the subfamily Hoplophryninae.



Subfamily Microhylinae

Large grouping of about 30 genera, although some of these are monotypic. Includes Kaloula, which is sometimes available, and the North American Gastrophryne (Narrow-Mouthed Toads).



Subfamily Otophryninae

Single genus of 3 species.



Subfamily Phrynomerinae

Contains the single genus Phrynomantis (5 species).



Subfamily Scaphiophryninae

Contains two genera, Paradoxophyla (monotypic) and Scaphiophryne.

Family Micrixalidae – Dancing Frogs, Tropical Frogs, Torrent Frogs: 24 species

Formerly a subfamily in the Family Ranidae. One genus (Micrixalus) and 24 species, all found in India in the Western Ghats

Family Nyctibatrachidae – Night Frogs, Fanged Frogs, Wrinkled Frogs, Water Frogs

Created from three genera formerly assigned to the Family Ranidae.

Subfamily Astrobatrachinae

Single monotypic genus

Subfamily Lankanectinae

Single genus, 2 species

Subfamily Nyctibrachinae

Single genus, 34 species

Family Petropedetidae – African Torrent Frogs, African Water Frogs

2-3 genera, depending on whether Conraua is included as a genus or assigned to its own family (see Family Conrauidae, above).

Family Ptychadenidae – Grassland Frogs

3 genera, 60 species, found in sub-Saharan Africa.

Family Pyxicephalidae – African Bullfrogs

12 genera in 2 subfamilies formerly assigned to Family Ranidae.

Subfamily Cacosterninae

10 genera

Subfamily Pyxicephalinae

2 genera



Family Ranidae - Pool/True Frogs: 700+ species

Until recently this family was considered to contain over 700 species, but within the past couple of decades reclassification has removed some genera and placed them within new families. Likewise the genus Rana itself has also been split into some new ones, including European species. As a rule these "typical frogs" are found in temperate zones as well as tropical and subtropical areas, being absent only from southern South America and most of Australia. The genus Rana alone contains about 270 species and includes such notables as R. catesbiana (American Bullfrog), R. pipiens (Leopard Frog - actually a complex of species), R. temporaria (European Common Frog), R. esculenta (Edible Frog), R. ribiens (Marsh Frog) and R. lessonae (Pool Frog).

Family Ranixalidae – Leaping Frogs, Indian Frogs

2 genera, Indirana and Walkerana


Family Rhacophoridae - Foam-Nesting Tree Frogs, Afroasian Tree Frogs: 200+ species

A family of frogs from Africa and SE Asia that resemble Eurasian and North American treefrogs. Most if not all produce their young in foam nests on treetrunks. The group includes the so-called "Flying Frogs", which can actually glide thanks to heavy webbing around their feet. There are 2 subfamilies. Philautinae, which was once considered a possible subfamily of the Rhacophoriae, is now no longer recognised.



Subfamily Buergeria

1 genus, Buergeria (4 species). Not all authorities consider this a subfamily.



Subfamily Rhacophorinae

7 genera: Chirixalus, Chiromantis, Micrixalus, Nyctixalus, Polypedates, Rhacophorus (Flying Frogs) and Theloderma. Polypedates and Rhacophorus are both fairly large in terms of numbers.

Superfamily Sooglossoidea

Family Nasikabatrachidae – Purple Pig-Nosed Frogs

First named in 2003. Two species found in W India.

Family Sooglossidae – Seychelles Frogs

2 genera, 4 species


The original bibliography for this page (created in 2003) contained works which were helpful in many ways but whose taxonomy is now considerably outdated, so many advances having been made in the classification of anurans. As newer works in print are referred to, they will be added here. For the time being we have relied on reputable Internet sources (see Note January 2023).



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