Frog of the Week

Marbled Snout-Burrower (Hemisus marmoratus)

Marbled Snout Burrower
Photograph by Ryanvanhuyssteen

Common Name: Marbled Snout-Burrower, Marbled Shovelnose Frog, and Mottled Shovelnose Frog
Scientific Name: Hemisus marmoratus
Family: Hemisotidae
Location: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, United Republic of Togo, Zambia, and Zimbabwe
Size: 1.9 inches (49 mm) for females, males are 1.3 inches (34 mm)

The Marbled Snout-Burrower pretty much just lives everywhere in Africa that is lower than the Sahara Desert. These frogs are adept at living underground in burrows that they create. They even lay their eggs in burrows underground. They dig underground head first, which is rare since most frogs dig with their hind legs.

Mating for the frogs starts when it starts to rain. The male calls out to the female frogs like most frog species. Males start the amplexus on the female frog while the female still has to dig a burrow for the eggs. The female will lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them An extra layer of unfertilized eggs is laid to keep the eggs moist. The male will provide no parental care. Meanwhile, the females sit on their eggs to keep them moist and protects them against intruders. The rain continues to fall during the time the female sits on the eggs over days and eventually the tadpoles hatch and the water level raises enough for the tadpoles to move toward bigger bodies of water. The mother also helps them along the way. Some populations of the Marbled Snout-Burrower just breed in savanna ponds during the summer. The tadpoles take around a month to complete their metamorphism.

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