Wetlands are diminishing both in area and quality, as any frog will tell you for, as we all know, amphibians and wetlands are two sides of the same coin. Here are twelve frog facts to mark World Wetlands Day, February 2nd 2017…
Words: Andrea Abbott
Pictures: Nick Evans; EWT’s Threatened Amphibian Programme; Andrea Abbott
Wetlands for Disaster Risk Reduction – that’s the theme for the Ramsar annual World Wetlands Day on 2 February 2017. According to the Ramsar website two ways that wetlands help avert disasters is through flood control and climate change mitigation.
Through the work of The Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Threatened Amphibian Programme, there’s a growing interest in frogs. And with frog tourism becoming a reality, in time frogs could become the new birds.
Here are a dozen facts about frogs:
- A batrachologist is a person who studies amphibians.
- Amphibians have been around for 350-million years which makes them the oldest land vertebrates.
- Amphibians are found on all continents except Antarctica. Although they prefer warm, moist areas, there are some species, e.g. the Desert Rain Frog, that have adapted to life in deserts.
- There are three orders of amphibians: Anurans (frogs and toads); Caudates (salamanders and newts) and Gymnophiones or Caecilians that look and behave like earthworms.
- Of the 7000+ known amphibian species, about 6500 are Anurans; 600 or so are Aaudates; and approximately 200 are Caecilians.
- Caudates occur only in the northern hemisphere and there are no Caecilians in South Africa but they do occur from northern Mozambique and up through Africa, and are also found in South America and Asia.
- Two hundred amphibian species have become extinct since 1979. According to Dr Jeanne Tarrant of the Endangered Wildlife Trust, this is way above the natural rate of extinction.
- The world’s largest frog is the Goliath Frog, Conraua goliath that lives in western Africa. Goliaths can grow to be over 30 cm long, and weigh over 3 kg.
- The world’s smallest frog is Paedophryne amanuensis that’s found in New Guinea. At just 7.7mm long it’s said to be the smallest of all known vertebrates.
- South Africa’s largest frog is the Giant Bullfrog. The smallest is the Northern Moss Frog found only in the Groot Winterhoek Mountains in the Western Cape.
- Not all frogs have tadpoles. Many terrestrial frog species emerge as froglets directly from the egg. Paedophryne amanuensis is one such species, as is the Bush Squeaker of KwaZulu-Natal that lays its eggs in moist leaf litter. About four weeks later, the fully metamorphosed froglets emerge. Similarly, all Rain Frog species in South Africa complete metamorphosis in an underground nest. Good reason not to rake, dig or use a leaf blower!
- Rose’s Mountain Toadlet, Capensibufo rosei, is the only species in South Africa that doesn’t call or have ear parts. Listed as vulnerable, this unique toadlet is found only within the Table Mountain National Park, most notably the Silvermine area where it often breeds in shallow puddles on hiking paths.