It’s a frog’s life

Cape sand frog

Shattering the night’s exquisite silence, urgent calls at about six to eight notes per second reverberate far and wide. With an admirable esprit de corps from these choristers, this choral extravaganza means that Cape sand frog males want attention of the mating kind – and soon.

Boasting robust bodies, these amphibians not only have the look, but walk the walk of toads. Broad heads, bulging big eyes, and short little legs complete their adorable Kermit-like look. Varying in colour from mottled light grey to dark brown, they have a pale patch between the shoulders, a pale vertebral stripe and often a pale stripe on either side of the body. The gentlemen sport dark-throated cravats.

Tomopterna delalandii is also known as Delalande’s sand frog in honour of French explorer Pierre Antoine Delalande (who collected in the Cape area in 1818). They’re endemic to western and southern South Africa and live close to the coast on freshwater lagoons and vlei edges. This is where they literally corkscrew themselves into the sand to disappear from prying eyes.

Known to eat bugs galore, these froggies breed in winter on the West Coast. But be warned, the 2 500-plus eggs laid singly or in small masses have an odour that’ll assault your olfactory nerve!

The benthic tadpoles are 44 mm long, but after 25 – 35 days, it’s time to metamorphose.

Ref: Photo: With thanks to Oliver Angus.