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The Desert Rain Frog: The Frog That Squeaks

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Meanwhile, over in Africa, a critically endangered species of frog has caught the world’s attention.  Endemic to just a 10 kilometer stretch between the countries of South Africa and Namibia, this small amphibian does not croak or rivvit – it squeaks.  Play the video above to see for yourself.  It sounds just like one of those squeaky toys you might give a dog to play with.

Squeaking aside for the moment, the Latin name for the desert rain frog is Berviceps macrops and it lives on a narrow strip of sandy shore between the sea and the dunes.  It lives mostly under the ground but when the fog drifts in from the ocean it takes to the surface and emits its war cry.  This may be enough to frighten off others of its species but it has become a long-lived meme on the internet.

Fortunately, it’s unlikely that many will venture to its sandy habitat to steal specimens.  Yet its environment is threatened both by industry and encroaching human populations.  It is difficult to find as it is nocturnal – even though it leaves behind it very distinctive ‘foot’ prints. These are usually discovered around heaps of animal dung – the frog is thought to live off the small insects which congregate around this matter.

It seems it is the misty air which keeps the frog’s skin moist – the areas where it is found get over 100 foggy days each year.  There are no pools for tadpoles, however; the young are laid under the ground and emerge at the surface as fully-formed if tiny desert rain frogs.  When they are seen above ground, they often have sand stuck to their skin.

Perhaps that’s why they get so angry.  It isn’t known really whether this is a warning, a mating song or something else.  One can only hope that the desert rain frog continues to squeak its way through the millennia despite our best efforts to destroy its habitat.

Amung Feedjit