Added as a separate page 30 June 2006 and added P. ibericus.

Frogs and Toads of Europe: Pelodytidae, Parsley Frogs

The Parsley Frogs were once considered members of the Pelobatidae, an older family of frogs belonging to the order Archeobatrachia ("old" or "ancient" frogs). Today they are considered a family in their own right, the Pelodytidae, on the basis of some internal skeletal differences. There are only three species, two found in Western Europe and one in the Caucasus.

Pelodytidae are distinguished by their frog-like appearance, with relatively long legs and a flat mouth. The "spade" found on the back legs of the Spadefoot Toads is absent and the webbing on the feet is much reduced. The pupils are vertical and the back is covered with small warts which may form longitudinal rows. The "parsley" designation comes from the coloration of the frogs, which look to some as if they have been sprinkled with the herb. Males have internal vocal sacs and nuptial swellings on various parts of the body. Females frequently breed more than once a year.

NB Unlike the pages for the other Reptile and Amphibian families, where measurements were given in inches or feet, measurements for the families here are given in centimetres, owing to the generally small size of the subjects.

Either click on a frog or toad in the Quick Links section or scroll down for the whole table.

P. caucasicus, Caucasus Parsley Frog P. ibericus, Iberian Parsley Frog P. punctatus, (Common) Parsley Frog 

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes
P. caucasicus Caucasus Parsley Frog [D Kaukasischer Schlammtaucher] Caucasus (inc. N Azerbaijan, mountain regions SW of Tblisi and adjacent areas of NE Turkey) 5½ cm The only other surviving member of the genus Pelodytes, although it seems that in ancient times the genus was more abundant. It is found in the Caucasian mountains at altitudes of up to 2,300 m. Its patterns of habitation (secluded) and diet (small invertebrates) are similar to that of the Parsley Frog, but breeding is somewhat different. Eggs are lain in clusters of 160-500, metamorphosis taking about 75-80 days. In some cases the frogs apparently do not enter the water to mate until August, in which case the subsequent larvae hibernate in this state on the bottom of the body of water.
P. ibericus Iberian Parsley Frog S & W Portugal, S Spain 4 cm Recently described species that is not mentioned by Engelmann et al or Nöllert and Nöllert. Similar to P. punctatus but smaller with broader head and shorter limbs. Call is also different, and unlike the Parsley Frog this species does not sing underwater.
P. punctatus (Common) Parsley Frog [D Westlicher Schlammtaucher] Iberia, France, W. Belgium, NW Italy 5 cm Very similar in appearance to the Common Frog but distinguishable by the vertical pupil in its eyes. Its habitats are either extremely damp or right by a body of water: it tends to hide under stones or in holes in the ground, only emerging after rainfall or at night. Parsley Frogs enter the water in spring to breed: at these times the calls of the males can be heard from below the surface. Both sexes are good swimmers. 1,000-1,600 eggs are laid in strings across aquatic plants: the tadpoles are actually bigger than the frogs themselves, at 6½ cm length.


Collins Field Guide to Reptiles & Amphibians of Britain & Europe, E N Arnold, J A Burton and D W Ovenden, HarperCollins, London 1978. For years this has been an invaluable guide to the English speaker, although a few of the taxonomic details were in need of revision. This was finally accomplished with the revised edition of 2002/4.

Lurche und Kriechtiere Europas [Amphibians and Reptiles of Europe], Dr Wolf-Eberhard Engelmann, Jürgen Fritzsche, Dr sc. Rainer Günther and Dipl.Biol. Fritz Jürgen Obst, Ferdinand Enke Verlag, Stuttgart 1986. A German-language equivalent but with a rather wider definition of Europe which includes the Transcaucasus, and useful details on the distribution of subspecies. Now apparently out of print.

Die Amphibien Europas, Andreas and Christel Nöllert, Franckh-Kosmos, Stuttgart 1992. Outstanding nature guide to every species of amphibian found in Europe.

Back to European Herps | Amphibians | Reptiles | Back to Home Page