Frog of the Week

Turtle Frog (Myobatrachus gouldii)

Turtle Frog
Turtle Frog – photo by Brendan Schembri

Common Name: Turtle Frog or Tortoise Frog
Scientific Name: Myobatrachus gouldii
Family: Myobatrachidae – Australian Ground Frog family
Location: Australia
Size: 1.9  inches (5 cm)

Turtle frogs live in Perth in Western Australia. They live in sandy soils with termite colonies, their main food source. The frogs prefer the sandy soil due to them being a fossorial species, which makes it easier to dig. The way that they burrow is interesting in that they use their front limbs instead of their back limbs which most burrowing toads and frogs use. These burrows can be over 3 feet (1 meter) deep.

The Turtle Frog starts to breed after heavy rains in spring. The males come out of their burrows and start to call. The females come and select a mate. Then, the pairs move back to a burrow. The actual mating can take place several months later, even up to four months. The female lays up to 50 eggs that hatch directly into small frogs, skipping the tadpole stage.

Turtle Frog
photo by By Stephen Zozaya – Vertucci S, Pepper M, Edwards DL, Roberts JD, Mitchell N, Keogh JS (2017) Evolutionary and natural history of the turtle frog, Myobatrachus gouldii, a bizarre myobatrachid frog in the southwestern Australian biodiversity hotspot. PLoS ONE 12(3): e0173348. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0173348.g001., CC BY 2.5,

The scientific name is in honor of John Gould, famous ornithologist and illustrator.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorized the frog as Least Concern for Extinction. They have a wide range and are thought to be common throughout it. Note, the IUCN Red List has not reassessed the Turtle Frog since 2004 so things could have changed.

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