Rain Frogs (Breviceps sp.)

One of the most wonderful sounds after a good rain in the African bush is the sound of all the amphibians, singing their songs, and trying to attract a mate. There are notes that are high pitched, ones that are a low rumble, ones that sound like the frog has a bit of a cold and ones that croak in acapella. My favourite of all the frogs calls, is made by a very unique species, called a rain frog.
There are 15 species of rain frogs, 14 of which occur within southern Africa. To me, these frogs look quite grumpy as they have distinctive flattened faces, with narrow, downturned mouths. They have a globose body, making them look like little balloons if they are startled or as they hop out of your way. Their limbs are shortened, and they don’t have the usual webbing, like their fellow amphibians. Rain frogs occur in both summer and winter rainfall areas, but are more seen in our reserve in the summertime.
These frogs are so called as they seem to respond to the changes in the atmospheric pressure. Males are usually the ones to call, releasing a sound that emanates from the mouth of a burrow or under a pile of leaves. They prefer to remain hidden as they are quite shy and don’t like the limelight too much.
Copulation usually occurs right at the beginning of the rainy season, and once the female is ready to lay her eggs, the breeding pair with construct a chamber where the female will lay her eggs. Each clutch can contain between 20 to 50 eggs, each encased in a jelly capsule for protection. Either of the pair shall remain near the nest until the clutch has hatched.
Within Kapama, we have 3 distinct species: the Bushveld Rain Frog (Breviceps adspersus), Mozambique Rain Frog (Breviceps mossambicus), and the very rare, Plaintive Rain Frog (Breviceps verrucosus).
As the nights are shortened through summer, the sounds are more prominent, and more vocal. In my opinion, some of the most amazing sounds are made by these precious creatures. Next time you need a pick me up, Google the YouTube video entitled, “Desert Rain Frog” and smile!

Story by Angie (River Lodge)
2013/12/02

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