Chordates •

Desert rain frog

(Breviceps macrops)



The desert rain frog, web-footed rain frog, or Boulenger's short-headed frog (Breviceps macrops) is a species of frog in the family Brevicipitidae. It is found in Namibia and South Africa. Its natural habitat is the narrow strip of sandy shores between the sea and the sand dunes. It is threatened by habitat loss by such factors as mining and tourism. The desert frog is a plump species with bulging eyes, a short snout, short limbs, spade-like feet, and webbed toes. On the underside, it has a transparent area of skin through which its internal organs can be seen. It can be between 4 to 6 centimetres (1.6 to 2.4 in) long. Its color is yellowish-brown, and sand often adheres to its skin. It also has an unusually high-pitched cry similar to that of a squeaky toy. Unlike most other species of frogs, it develops directly from the egg into adults without passing through the tadpole stage. It has a stout body, with small legs, which makes it unable to hop or leap instead, it walks around on the sand. Unusually for a frog, it does not require water in its habitat to survive. Its eyes are comparatively large and bulging. The desert rain frog is mostly found on a small strip of land about 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) wide along the coast of Namibia and South Africa. The small area of sand dunes often gets a lot of fog, which supplies moisture in an otherwise arid and dry region. The desert rain frog is nocturnal, spending the day in a burrow which is dug to a depth of 10 to 20 centimetres (3.9 to 7.9 in) where the sand is moist. It emerges on both foggy and clear nights and wanders about over the surface of the dunes. Its footprints are distinctive and are often found around patches of dung where it is presumed to feed on moths, beetles, and insect larvae. It digs its way into the sand in the morning and its presence in a locality can be deduced from the little pile of loose sand dislodged by its burrowing activities. Breeding is by direct development of eggs laid in its burrow, there is no aquatic tadpole stage. It produces a high-pitched squeaking sound when threatened. The frog's total habitat range is smaller than 2,000 square kilometres (770 sq mi) and is fragmented and the number of individual frogs seems to be decreasing. It is threatened by habitat loss caused by opencast diamond mining and road construction, as well as increased human settlement.

Taxonomic tree:

Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Amphibia
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