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Desert Rain Frog

This little guy has making the rounds on my dashboard lately, with a link to a video of the brilliant sounds it makes, so I thought I’d better tell you a bit about the species. The Desert Rain Frog (Breviceps macrops) is native to a coastal strip in a region called Namaqualand, which is located in Namibia and South Africa. It’s a squat, plump frog about 4–6 mm long, and has strikingly large and bulging eyes, paddle-like feet and extremely short limbs, which makes it hard for it to hop. The frog is fossorial, which means it lives underground, burrowing into the moist sand dunes of its habitat. They come up at night, usually during and following coastal fogs that supply moisture to the arid region. Their distinctive calls can be heard all year round—the males come to the surface and settle themselves in a small depression in the sand, then let out bursts of sound like a rising, squeaky, amazingly entertaining whistle. Sometimes, males even call out together, with one starting a call and others following it in a regular pattern like a chorus. The species has only been found in 11 different locations within a 200 square kilometre strip of land, and the frogs are declining in numbers thanks to habitat alteration and pollution from nearby diamond mining activities.

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