Cute and inventive.

Giant burrowing frog (Heleioporus australiacus)--Frank Lemckert
Giant burrowing frog (Heleioporus australiacus)

Cute Frog of the Week: Oct. 3, 2011

Despite its appearance, the giant burrowing frog (Heleioporus australiacus) is not a Hutt crime lord trying wreak havoc on Luke Skywalker’s life. Instead, this funny looking cutie is spends its time burrowing and calling to potential mates from partially flooded burrows at the banks of rivers. It also calls sometimes while hidden beneath dense vegetation. It’s not as large as its name may imply, but three and a half inches long is nothing to scoff at.

The giant burrowing frog is primarily restricted to southeastern Australia, residing in the eastern slopes of the Great Dividing Range, a region also known as the Sydney Basin.  They exist primarily in montane sclerophyll woodland, montane riparian woodland, and wet, damp and dry sclerophyll forests.  These frogs are well-adapted to Australia’s often unforgiving climates, laying their eggs in ephemeral pools, or permanent pools, if they exist.

These frogs are listed as vulnerable, and face a number of challenges in their mountainous environment.  Intensive timber harvesting, fox and cat predation, cattle grazing and invasive terrestrial and aquatic predators are just a few of the trials confronting these amphibians. Unfortunately, chytrid was also detected in this species, specifically in Springwood, New South Wales. Giant burrowing frogs are, however, protected by state legislation and are the subject of two major studies in New South Wales, so they hopefully will survive and not be consigned to a galaxy far, far away any time soon.

Photo by Frank Lemckert via ARKive.

Every week the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project posts a new photo of a cute frog from anywhere in the world with an interesting, fun and unique story to tell. Be sure to check back every Monday for the latest addition.

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