“Burrowing Frog” Some burrowing frogs can spend their entire lives underground!
Burrowing frogs are amphibians that dig themselves into the ground, and they can remain there for extremely long periods of time.
They possess muscular arms and legs to aid in digging, and they make their homes near slow-moving, almost stagnant bodies of water.
Eastern owl frogs have a soft hooting call that is commonly mistaken for that of an owl.
Habitat loss is a major cause for concern, and it threatens the vast majority of burrowing frog species.
– Appearance and Behavior –
The eastern owl frog is one of the largest frogs to call Australia home.
There are several facts that you can rely on to properly and quickly identify an eastern owl frog from the other native frog species.
They can be up to three to four inches in length with a rough, warty, and multicolored back, a smooth single light-colored belly, and non-webbed feet.
They have vertical pupils, and their backs may be spotted as well. The frog’s forelegs are noticeably muscular to aid in their digging through soil and other ground covering debris.
The lack of webbing on their feet is an adaptation that makes it easier to dig. The males possess large black spines on their chests and arms that aid in holding their partner still for mating.
Both males and females will dig burrows by backing into them as they use their hind legs and feet to throw dirt from the hole.
The eastern owl frog earned its name from the soft, hooting sound that the male makes from the mouth of the burrow while trying to attract a mate.
The call is very similar in nature to that of an owl. This call can be heard year-round, but it is much more prevalent during mating season.
The vast majority of their lives are spent underground, and this has prevented any significant study of their population outside of chance encounters and strictly designed trapping methods.
They are the most active during the summer months into the fall, and these frogs are most likely to be observed during and after heavy rainfall or thunderstorms.
They conceal themselves on the banks of rivers and other water bodies, and they use vegetation and their burrows to conceal themselves from sight.
– Habitat –
The giant burrowing frog will reside in many different potential habitats.
From wet forests to stream lands, the frog will always make its burrow in an area that is located near a significant water source that is slow-moving.
These burrows frequently take advantage of natural features of the landscape such as cracks, crevices, and runoffs to capture slow-flowing water for reproduction.
– Diet –
The giant burrowing frog’s diet is that of a generalist. It will eat many different types of foods, but it is a carnivore that only consumes other animals.
– Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan –
The breeding season begins in the fall, and the males call out with their hooting mating sounds from within the burrow or out in the open.
Males are extremely territorial during mating season, and they average a claimed area of 0.04 hectares that will not overlap with the claimed area of another male.
The female eastern owl lays her eggs in a foamy substance inside the burrow or in the water underneath vegetation.
There can be anywhere from 800-1,250 eggs, but the average is around 500-800 eggs per female.
The eggs remain dormant until rain or other water flow washes them from their current location into a larger pool of water where tadpole development begins in earnest.
Tadpoles take between 12 weeks to a year to fully develop depending on weather conditions and the timing of the season.
They are typically a blue-gray color with streaks of black, and giant burrowing frog tadpoles have grown as large as three inches themselves!
Tadpoles that have not fully matured by the time winter arrives will go dormant, and they will resume their development in the spring.
Once fully matured, eastern owl frogs live approximately 10-15 years. They are slow growers, and they are considered to be very long-lived for a frog species.