Albanian water frog (Pelophylax shqipericus)

Also known as: Albanian frog, Albanian pool frog, Balkan frog, Virpazar frog
GenusPelophylax (1)
SizeMale length: c. 71 mm (2)
Female length: c. 74 mm (2)

The Albanian water frog is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

The scientific species name of the Albanian water frog (Pelophylax shqipericus) derives from the word Shqipëria, which means ‘Albania’ in the native language. This species is a medium-sized member of the western Palaearctic water frog group, and its highly webbed feet are a clear indication of its preference for aquatic habitats (2).

The back of the male Albanian water frog is green to light brown with relatively large brown or black spots. A light green stripe is sometimes present along the spine. The inner thighs are darkly mottled, and the male also has paired, external vocal sacs, which are light olive to grey. The male usually becomes more brightly coloured during the breeding season, ranging from grass green to yellow-olive, and the spots and markings on the skin are either reduced or completely absent (2).

The upperparts of the female Albanian water frog are light brown to olive, with large, distinct chocolate brown to black spots. The belly is cream-coloured with very few spots, while the groin area is yellow (2).

The Albanian water frog is a lowland species (1) (2) (3) (4). It is restricted to coastal areas of the eastern Adriatic region (2) (5), in parts of western Albania and southern Montenegro (1) (3) (4) (6), where it generally occurs at elevations below 500 metres above sea level (1) (3) (4).

An aquatic species, the Albanian water frog is found in heavily vegetated wetland habitats including marshes, swamps and ditches. It can also be found on the edges of slow-flowing rivers, as well as the shoreline of Lake Skadar (1) (3) (4).

Members of the Ranidae family, such as the Albanian water frog, are known as ‘true frogs’, as they are what many people consider to be typical frogs (3) (7) (8) (9).

There is no diagnostic feature common to all Ranidae (10), however, like the Albanian water frog (3), most have life cycles closely associated with still or slow-moving water bodies (8) (11). Many species within the Ranidae family reproduce through larval development, with the production of aquatic tadpoles (3) (9) (10), although some groups have direct development of juveniles (9) (10).

The main threats to the Albanian water frog are the drainage of wetlands, and agrochemical and industrial pollution of aquatic habitats. Over-collection of this species for commercial purposes is a significant threat in the northern parts of its range, such as along the shores of Lake Skadar (1) (3) (4).

An additional threat to this species is the accidental introduction of non-native water frogs to the Albanian water frog’s aquatic habitats, as these species may compete for space and food (1) (3) (4).

The Albanian water frog is listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention, which means that it should be afforded protection (12).

This species is known to occur within the Lake Skadar protected area, on the border of Montenegro and Albania (1) (3) (4).

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  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2011)
  2. Hotz, H., Uzzell, T., Gunther, R., Tunner, H.G. and Heppich, S. (1987) Rana shqiperica, a New European Water Frog Species from the Adriatic Balkans (Amphibia, Salientia, Ranidae). Notulae Naturae, Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, 468: 1-3.
  3. Stuart, S.N., Hoffmann, M., Chanson, J.S., Cox, N.A., Berridge, R.J., Ramani, P. and Young, B.E. (Eds.) (2008) Threatened Amphibians of the World. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.
  4. AmphibiaWeb - Rana shqiperica (November, 2011):
  5. Tockner, K., Uehlinger, U. and Robinson, C.T. (Eds.) (2009) Rivers of Europe. Academic Press, London.
  6. Gorman, G. (2008) Central and Eastern European Wildlife. Bradt Travel Guides, Buckinghamshire, UK.
  7. Harding, J.H. (1997) Amphibians and Reptiles of the Great Lakes Region. University of Michigan Press, USA.
  8. Grismer, L.L. (2002) Amphibians and Reptiles of Baja California, Including its Pacific Islands, and the Islands in the Sea of Cortés. University of California Press, USA.
  9. AmphibiaWeb - Ranidae (November, 2011)
  10. Guyer, C. and Donnelly, M.A. (2005) Amphibians and Reptiles of La Selva, Costa Rica, and the Caribbean Slope: A Comprehensive Guide. University of California Press, USA.
  11. Kitching, R.L. (2000) Food Webs and Container Habitats: The Natural History and Ecology of Phytotelmata. Cambridge University Press, UK.
  12. Council of Europe: Bern Convention (November, 2011)