Listen closely to the sounds of your backyard after the rain.
Do you hear something reminiscent of those bamboo waterfall garden toys from the 1970’s? Or perhaps someone plucking a taut rubber band against a beer can?
That’s the call of Platyplectrum ornatum, or the Ornate Burrowing Frog.
This ground dwelling frog grows to around five centimetres and is almost as round as he is long. He has big poppy eyes on the top of his head and a sweet smiling face decorated with stripy lips.
He’ll sometimes have a large butterfly shaped patch behind his head, but not all of them have this.
If this description sounds a bit vague please excuse me. This little frog, named for the ornate patterns on its slightly warty skin, has a coat of many colours. Skin tones range from a deep orange to mottled brown and all colours in between.
Like all frogs these fancy critters are ferocious insectivores and make great backyard pest control operators. Even the tadpoles are fierce, eating other taddies along with water bugs and algae.
Our little bloke loves a seasonally inundated watercourse as sandy soil in a dry river bed is easy to dig and fills quickly after the rain.
He burrows feet first into the soil, using big bumpy bits on his back feet like shovels. You usually only see him after heavy rains when he rears up out of the ground like a slow moving, amphibious, sex-crazed mini-tyrannosaurus rex, intent on finding the nearest puddle. He will sit there calling out in his ‘unk unk unk’ voice to any nearby ornate ladies.
Female frogs are quite industrious homemakers, slapping the water of the chosen puddle with their front legs and capturing air bubbles that they use to create a foamy nest around seven centimetres in diameter.
She will then lay around a thousand eggs into the foam. If you are wondering where our dapper little man-frog is while all this is going on he is sitting on her back, holding on for dear life in a move known as amplexus. While his lady lays he will release his sperm into the foamy water to fertilise the eggs.
Look after your frogs by limiting your use of garden pesticides and herbicides this wet season. Check out the FrogID app on your phone and get to know what’s out there.
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