Desert Rain Frog (Breviceps macrops)

Having just had surgery on my left arm, typing is quite difficult. So if this post is a bit short (and a bit muddled) I apologize. Today’s animal is the desert rain frog, whose name is a bit of an oxymoron. Though to be fair they are called rain frogs because they are part of the family Brevicipitidae, not because there is actual rain in the desert they inhabit.

The distribution of the desert rain frog.  Image source: Wikipedia

The distribution of the desert rain frog.
Image source: Wikipedia

Desert rain frogs live in a tiny area of land in Namibia and South Africa. This region is known as Namaqualand, and is a coastal desert that gets most of its moisture from fogs that roll in from the sea. Though it is quite arid and bare most of the year, the desert blooms in the spring and becomes covered in flowers and vegetation, which must be quite the sight.

These frogs are quite tiny, reaching only 4-6 mm in length. Not only is it super small, but the desert rain frog is round and puffy. It’s probably the only frog in the world that I would consider cute. In fact, there’s a video on youtube titled “World’s cutest frog” that has the desert rain frog squeaking in an adorable way. You can see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBkWhkAZ9ds.

Desert rain frogs are built for burrowing. They have special paddle-like feet that are great for digging. Their legs are super short, which is probably useful for digging, but mean the desert frog cannot hop. Their feet have webbing between the toes, something that is absent in other members of the frog’s genus. Its thought that this webbing helps the frog gain traction on loose sand. The frogs are yellowy brown, which helps with camouflage. The bellies of desert rain frogs have a transparent patch through which internal organs can be seen.

Like many desert creatures, the desert rain frog is nocturnal. It leaves its burrow to go in search of dung piles, which provide the frog with its main source of food: beetles ad moths. At least the frog doesn’t eat the poo itself. That wouldn’t be very cute.

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