The turtle frog has a strong forelimb that allows it to dig underground in search of its preferred food source, termites.
In extremely dry areas, turtle frogs avoid laying their eggs in water and instead bury them deep in damp sand.
In fact, they are a species of extremely low conservation priority. There is a substantial frog population, although it is restricted to a small area of Australia.
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What Does the Turtle Frog Look Like?
This species of frog has one of the most striking appearances of any known frog. The turtle frog is camouflaged by its bright pink skin, which is speckled with gold and black.
Their big mouth and small eyes make them ideally adapted to feasting on tasty termites. Their stubby legs, short noses, and muscular forearms give them the appearance of a turtle that’s been stripped of its shell.
Claws located at the end of each forearm aid turtle frogs in foraging for food and gaining entry to their underground burrows. Turtle frogs reach a maximum adult size of about 2 inches.
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What is the Scientific Name of the Turtle Frog?
Myobatrachus gouldii is the scientific name, honouring the great bird artist and ornithologist John Gould. It belongs to the family of frogs known as Myobatrachidae and can be found in both New Guinea and Australia.
Only one species exists, and researchers think it’s adapted uniquely to the dry conditions of the Australian outback.
How is the Behaviour of the Turtle Frog?
These burrowing animals live practically their whole lives underground, where they have access to safety and nourishment.
Each lives near termite hives, where it can easily access food in the form of strays.
Only during the mating season, right after the periodic rains in Perth, can these frogs emerge from their burrows.
Where Does the Turtle Frog Live?
Between Geraldton and Fitzgerald River in Western Australia is where you’ll find the turtle frog.
The frogs in this area have adapted to the semi-arid climate. The short, powerful legs they’ve evolved enable them to dig forward, like a turtle, rather than sideways like most frogs.
Muscular adaptations help them as they try to break into a termite mound in search of food.
Because they complete their metamorphosis in the safety of their eggs, they may thrive without access to permanent bodies of water.
The sandhill frog and the woodland toadlet are the closest cousins of the turtle frog, sharing many of the same characteristics.
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What Does the Turtle Frog Feed On?
Termites are the sole and preferred food source for these amphibians. In fact, a single meal for a turtle frog can consist of 400 termites. For convenience, these frogs build their houses next to termite colonies.
What Feeds Turtle Frogs?
Underground, these amphibians can escape the harsh sunlight of the Australian desert and find safety from potential predators.
To avoid being eaten by larger animals like frogs, snakes, or birds of prey, they burrow down more than three feet below the surface.
How Do Turtle Frogs Reproduce?
After the early summer rains in Perth, when turtle frogs are most commonly spotted, the breeding season officially begins.
Males will slither up to the surface of their tunnels and croak loudly in search of a female companion. When a pair of frogs mates, they go underground for more than three feet to be together.
Late in the summer, often up to four months after the frog’s first encounter, the real breeding process begins. This is because turtle frogs have evolved a specialised method of reproduction that no other amphibian uses.
It takes around two months for an egg laid by a female in the late summer to mature and hatch. In contrast to other amphibians, however, these frogs’ offspring hatch as fully-developed froglets rather than tadpoles.
To prevent the froglets from drying out, the hatching needs to coincide with the upcoming rainy season.
These infants will be able to venture out of their dens and into the world in search of partners after the spring rains have returned.
How Does the Turtle Frog Mate?
In July, after it has rained and the birds have had a chance to mate, you may often hear their distinctive call. Upon deciding on a mate, turtle frogs will retreat to the burrow’s antechamber.
The average depth of a burrow is 1.1 metres (3 ft 10 in). Several months later, mating occurs in the burrow. Each egg can be up to 7.5 millimetres (0.30 in) in diameter, and females can lay up to 50 of them.
Read also: What is a Group of Frogs Called?
The turtle frog is an interesting creature because of its shellless turtle-like body. These creatures are typically described as having a “blob” shape, with small, beady eyes and pink, squishy skin.
While precise population estimates are unavailable, this species is considered to be “of least concern” from a conservation standpoint. Only in southwestern Australia can you find them.
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