Perret’s snout-burrower (Hemisus perreti)

Perret's snout-burrower, side view
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Perret’s snout-burrower fact file

Perret’s snout-burrower description

GenusHemisus (1)

Very little is known about the peculiar-looking Perret’s snout-burrower (Hemisus perreti). Hemisus species are known as the shovel-nosed frogs, after their robust, pointed snout (2).

The snout, along with the solid, bony skull, forms a highly modified head for the frog’s head-first burrowing behaviour (3). The limbs of Perret’s snout-burrower are short and its pupils are vertically elliptical (2).

Length of Hemisus species: 3 - 8 cm (2)

Perret’s snout-burrower biology

Shovel-nosed frogs are all terrestrial burrowers (2). In contrast to most other burrowers, these frogs characteristically burrow head-first using their modified snouts (3). This underground lifestyle means that Perret’s snout-burrower may be a fairly common species, but is frequently unseen (4).

The breeding habits of the virtually unstudied Perret’s snout-burrower are unknown, but it is assumed that they are similar to those of other Hemisus species. To mate, the male presumably adopts a position called amplexus, in which the male clasps the female from behind (2). The female then deposits fertilised eggs in an underground burrow, close to water, which is carefully guarded. The female digs an escape tunnel from the burrow to the water, so that when the larvae hatch, they can move into the water to develop into free-swimming tadpoles (2) (4).


Perret’s snout-burrower range

Perret’s snout-burrower has been recorded from western Democratic Republic of the Congo, north of the Congo River estuary, and in south-western Gabon, in Loango National Park and Moukalaba-Doudou National Park, as well as in localities between these parks (1). This species is considered locally common in the Gabonese localities in which it has been recorded (6).

It is presumed that Perret’s snout-burrower occurs in the lowland coastal areas of Congo and Cabinda (Angola) (4) (5) (6).


Perret’s snout-burrower habitat

Perret’s snout-burrower has been found in pristine lowland rainforest, secondary forest, and in small forest patches in savanna, from sea level up to an elevation of 110 metres (4).


Perret’s snout-burrower status

Perret’s snout-burrower is classified as Data Deficient (DD) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Data Deficient


Perret’s snout-burrower threats

There is so little information regarding Perret’s snout-burrower that the IUCN has been unable to assess its risk of extinction, and has therefore classified it as Data Deficient (1).

However, the limited data currently available do not indicate any direct threats to this secretive frog (4) (5).


Perret’s snout-burrower conservation

Perret’s snout-burrower occurs in two protected areas in Gabon: Loango National Park and Moukalaba-Doudou National Park (4) (5).

Further research into Perret’s snout-burrower is clearly needed (4) to determine whether this species is facing any direct threats, and to inform appropriate conservation measures if required.

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

Find out more about amphibian conservation:



Authenticated (07/10/11) by Olivier S.G. Pauwels, Research Associate at the Royal Belgian Institute for Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium.



The mating position of frogs and toads, in which the male clasps the female around the back or waist.
Stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
Secondary forest
Forest that has re-grown after a major disturbance, such as fire or timber harvest, but has not yet reached the mature state of primary forest.


  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2008)
  2. Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  3. Cannatella, D. (1995) Hemisus: Shovel-Nosed Frogs. Tree of Life Web Project, The University of Arizona. Available at:
  4. IUCN, Conservation International, and NatureServe: Global Amphibian Assessment (January, 2008)
  5. Pauwels, O.S.G. and Rödel, M-O. (2007) Amphibians and national parks in Gabon, western central Africa. Herpetozoa, 19(3/4): 135-148.
  6. Pauwels, O.S.G. (‘2007’ 2009). Perret’s burrowing frog. In: Vande Weghe, J.P. (Ed.) Gabon’s National Parks. Loango, Mayumba and the lower Ogooué. Wildlife Conservation Society, Libreville. Page available at:

Image credit

Perret's snout-burrower, side view  
Perret's snout-burrower, side view

© Carlton Ward Jr

Carlton Ward Jr


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