I am guessing not much… Not many people do. If you are one of them, that’s impressive.
First, let’s quickly recap a little on frogs themselves. In the rainy season (our summer, which occurs now) frogs are typically more active. They tend to move around after rains, calling for territory or to find a mate, and hence also breed during this season.
In my opinion, a symphony of frog calls is one of the most incredible sounds in the bush. Pausing in silence close to a waterhole in the evening, especially after rains, and listening to the combination of frogs and toads calling can sometimes be so loud that it is almost deafening! However loud, the sounds are beautiful and many guests remark as to how good they felt listening to them.
Frogs are not found everywhere; they are very sensitive to pollution and for this reason are usually found in clean natural environments. When you hear them, think about how lucky you are to be listening to them or spending time with any animal in an unpolluted system… that is more than many can say about where they live!
Bushveld rain frogs are a remarkable species of frog we find here at Londolozi. The distinct call of a rain frog can be heard almost anywhere in the bush. The frogs aren’t confined to waterholes and marshes like most frogs. This is because they have adapted to live in semi-dry savanna or grassland habitats and don’t rely on pools of water.
The bushveld rain frog, using hard digging apparatus on its hind heels called tubercles, digs itself about 40cm (just over a ruler-length) below the soil’s surface and can remain buried for months before the rains come; after the rains they will call from their burrows before finally climbing out to find a mate. After having found one the two frogs will bury themselves underground to lay their eggs!
So, what about the tadpoles? Aren’t they reliant on water? Remarkably, the rain frog is able to ‘skip’ this step of metamorphosis by laying large, well-lubricated eggs in the soil out of which froglets hatch. This allows the froglets to skip the vulnerable stage of being a tadpole and being dependent on water.
Let’s go back to the mating… the uniquely rotund body of a bushveld rain frog makes it difficult for the smaller male to mate with the significantly larger female. What rain frogs do to solve this issue is ‘glue’ themselves together so that the male is able to remain in the correct position on the female. She excretes an adhesive substance from her skin as he mounts her which holds him there until the mating process is complete; the female will then release a solvent to detach the male.
How does a rain frog protect itself? If you have ever seen a distressed rain frog, you will know. The rain frog inflates its body like a puffer fish to intimidate predators and then burrows into the ground if it can. It can also release a toxic, milky white substance.
The bushveld rain frog is endemic to Southern Africa, meaning that you cannot find it anywhere else in the world.
Their unmistakable call can be heard almost anywhere on Londolozi after rainfall. Their clever burrowing, mating, egg laying and anti-predator behaviours set them aside as one of the most interesting of the amphibians here.
Photographs courtesy of Google Images.