FROGS
Long-toed Tree frog

Frogs of the Midlands

The Natal Midlands are home to some very unique and endemic frog species, including the Long-toed Tree Frog, Leptopelis xenodactylus. Not, in fact a resident of trees at all (the least arboreal species of its genus), but in possession of very long toes, this Endangered frog inhabits tussocky grassland wetlands and occurs between Greytown and Nseleni Nature Reserve in the foothills of the Drakensberg. It is a relatively large frog, reaching up to 60 mm in length and is bright green in colour.  Its call, reminiscent of a baby crocodile, is issued from perches on grass during misty or rainy conditions.

Long-toed Tree Frog  

Another local frog, the Natal Leaf-folding Frog, Afrixalus spinifrons intermedius,is a small yellow species, reaching no bigger than 25 mm in length. The skin is covered in tiny black spines. The subspecies found in the Midlands occurs above 1000 m in altitude and is a common resident of farm dams and ponds. The name is derived from their unique method of oviposition, whereby females lay eggs along the margin of a leaf and the male seals leaf with an adhesive substance to form a tube-like nest.

Afrixalus  spinifrons intermedius  

Bilbo's Rain Frog, Breviceps bagginsi, occurs at only a few sites in KZN, one of which is near Boston. These small, round frogs, spend most of their time in burrows in the ground in grassland, emerging in aggregations of 20 – 30 frogs during rain. Little is known about the species, but it presumably breeds by development of tadpoles occurring directly in subterranean nests. Ongoing foresty over most of its area of occurrence threatens the habitat of this species.

In total, approximately 25 different frog species can be found in the region, and these are primarily active during the rainy season (September – March), making use of a wide range of habitats including grasslands, wetlands, rivers and dams.

Jeanne Tarrant, Endangered Wildlife Trust, Threatened Amphibian Programme

Download Dr Tarrant's article The value of Amphibians: What's the fuss about frogs? here.

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