Frog of the Week

Stephen’s Rocket Frog (Anomaloglossus stepheni)

Stephen's Rocket Frog
photo by Pedro Ivo Simoes

Common Name: Stephen’s Rocket Frog
Scientific Name: Anomaloglossus stepheni
Family: Dendrobatidae – Poison Dart Frog family*
Locations: Brazil and Suriname
Size: 0.55 – 0.67 inches (14 – 17 mm)

The Stephen’s Rocket Frog is active during the day (diurnal) amongst the leaf litter in tropical rain forests. Reproduction happens between November and March, peaking in January. Females lay between 3 – 6 eggs on nest on land that is formed by 2 leaves, one on top of the other to create a hot pocket. The male frogs protect the eggs while the female leaves. Other females can come and mate with the male, leaving different clutches of eggs in the nest. The eggs hatch and a tadpole comes out. Interestingly, the male does not move the tadpole to a source of water but leaves it in the nest.

*Note on the family provided. Some people elevated Aromobatinae – Cryptic Poison Dart Frog subfamily into its own family which the Stephen’s Rocket Frog is part of. However, I don’t like it.


If you are like me at all, you are probably wondering who is Stephen? Why does he have rockets? Why does he have his rockets on rocks? The search for the answers to these questions took me on a deep mysterious journey. The man the frog is named after is Stephen R Edwards, a man who earned his PhD from Kansas. For his PhD, his dissertation was a phenetic analysis of the genus Colostethus in the family Dendrobatidae. Now you are wondering, the Stephen’s Rocket Frog is a member of the genus Anomaloglossus, wtf does this have to do with this other genus. Coloestethus was the originally Rocket Frog genus and was the genus that the Stephen’s Rocket Frog was in first.

Rockets on frogs? Sadly no, they get their name for appearing to be able to jump straight up like a rocket lifting off. This is not a defining feature of any of the frogs in the genus and many other frogs can do this so its a mediocre name. Now, you probably think this Stephen guy was the first one to find the frog, well….. no. In his dissertation in 1974, he predicted that this frog existed. It wasn’t until Marcio Martins discovered it in 1990 that Marcio named it after Stephens due to his prediction.

Conservation Status of the Stephen’s Rocket Frog

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List assesses the frog as Least Concern for Extinction. The frog has a wide range and a presumed large population. However, they haven’t updated the assessment since 2004 so this could be outdated (but probably not). Only known threat to the frogs is deforestation.

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