Frog of the Week

Desert Rain Frog (Breviceps macrops)

Desert Rain Frog
photo by Arie van der Meijden

Common Name: Desert Rain Frog or Boulenger’s Short-Headed frog
Scientific Name: Breviceps macrops
Family: Brevicipitidae – Rain Frog Family
Location: Namibia and South Africa
Size: 1.8 inches (48 mm)

The Desert Rain Frog lives along the western Namaqualand Coast of southern Africa in shrub land and desert habitat. Due to them living in these hot, arid environments, it is hard for them to conserve water. Therefore, they are nocturnal, spending most of its day burrowing under the ground so they don’t dry out. The burrows can be found between 3.9 to 7.9 inches (10 to 20 cm) deep. Their diet consists of beetles and other insects found on dung. They come to the surface at night to hunt and to breed.

The Desert Rain Frog is part of the family Brevicipitidae, the Rain Frog family. The family members live only in sub-Saharan Africa. The frogs are fossorial, spending most of their time underground. They are rarely seen, only coming to the surface at night as well as during the rains, hence their name.

The breeding season for the Desert Rain Frog is between June and October. The males come out during the night to call for the females. The males sometimes call in choruses, where one male calls and the others call after. The call sounds like a squeak toy. Once the female finds a mate, the couple heads back underground. Then, they mate and lay their eggs underground as well. Females can lay between 12 – 40 eggs. The frogs don’t have a free tadpole stage; instead, they emerge from the eggs as froglets. It’s been said to be the world’s cutest frog.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List lists the Desert Rain Frog as Near Threatened with extinction. The biggest threat to the frogs is habitat loss due to urban development, cattle grazing, and diamond mining. Therefore, better conservation of the land is needed to prevent the species from becoming endangered and possible extinct. Also, maybe just don’t buy diamonds.

Leave a Reply