Frog of the Week

Archey’s Frog (Leiopelma archeyi)

Archey's Frog
by David M. Green

Common Name: Archey’s Frog
Scientific Name: Leiopelma archeyi
Family: Leiopelmatidae
Location:  New Zealand – North Island
Female Size: 1.45 inches (37 mm)
Male Size: 1.2 inches (31 mm)

Archey’s Frog is a rather old species of frog found in northern North Island, New Zealand.  They are considered living fossils since they and the other members of the family haven’t changed much in 200 million years. The frog still has muscles in its butt for tail wagging even though they don’t have one! They also have an extra vertebrae that majority of other frogs don’t have.

Archey’s frog are fully terrestrial and even lay their eggs under vegetation on land. The males of the species perform parental care by guarding the nest of eggs. The eggs hatch into tailed froglets, skipping the tadpole stage. Then, the male frog will carry them on their backs for weeks until finish metamorphosis

Sadly, the Archey’s Frog isn’t doing so well. They are listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Nature (IUCN) Red List. The New Zealand government lists them as Nationally Vulnerable. There are three main reasons for the frog’s status: invasive species, habitat loss, and chytrid fungus. One of the main invasive species is rats, introduced from Europe, that prey heavily on the frog. Places that actively trap the rats have seen the frog populations bounce back. Other invasive species such as pigs, stouts, hedgehogs, cats, possums and other frogs also prey on the Archey’s Frog but not as much as the rats. The remaining areas were the frogs live are threatened by mining projects.

The Auckland Zoo has a captive breeding program to help re-establish populations and to protect them against extinction.

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