Category Archives: Some Friends Hop and Slither

Highlighting our frog and reptile friends who are extremely important for our ecosystem.

Mistbelt Chirping Frog

– Article written by Nick Evans of KZN Amphibian and Reptile Conservation –

In the KZN Midlands lives a tiny little frog, which few people have seen, and most members of the public have never heard of: the Mistbelt Chirping Frog (Anhydrophryne ngongoniensis).

Mistbelt Chirping Frog 3

Appearance

It really is a tiny frog! Their maximum size is a measly 22mm. It’s a very pretty little frog, being a light golden brown colour, with speckles running down its back in a striped formation. It has a dark band on each side of its head.

A species in danger!

The Mistbelt Chirping Frog is currently listed as ‘Endangered’, by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It was previously listed as Critically Endangered, before survey work was carried out by herpetologist and researcher, James Harvey. He had found a few new localities, which came as great news for this species.

It only occurs in mistbelt areas in the KZN Midlands, in high altitude, moist grasslands. So it is not a widespread species at all. Unfortunately for this frog, much of its habitat has been destroyed for exotic tree plantations. Even its habitat type is considered endangered! The last few remaining areas in which this frog occurs in, are rather fragmented by these plantations, isolating populations. These mostly fall under private land, owned by forestry companies. Other threats include invasive alien plants, which take smother these grasslands, over-grazing, and incorrect burning programmes.

The few areas that are still home to this frog desperately need to be conserved, so that the world does not lose yet another species. It may be small, but it still matters. It still plays a role in a functioning environment. Fortunately, it is being monitored by the likes of James and the Endangered Wildlife Trust.

Mistbelt Chirping Frog 2

Did you know?

This species was only discovered and described in 1993! That was probably because of its size, and its undistinctive call, a subtle, insect-like, chirping sound.

What’s also interesting about this frog, is that they do not breed in water. Most frogs lay their eggs in water, but the Mistbelt Chirping Frog lays its eggs in leaf-litter!

Mistbelt Chirping Frog 1

Survey and photography mission

I was fortunate enough to join James Harvey recently, on some of his survey work. We went to a site near the Ixopo area where he had heard and found this species before.

We arrived in the afternoon, and conditions were perfect. There was a light drizzle, and it was misty too. The common but rarely seen Plaintive Rain Frogs were out in force, and although we did not see any, we heard dozens! Our hopes were lifted when, amongst the Rain Frog calls, we started hearing a couple of Mistbelt ‘Chirpers’! We walked down the slope where they were calling, hoping to find one. James warned me that they were extremely difficult frogs to find, and I soon learnt that he was not wrong. The long grass was so thick. Finding a frog that’s only two centimetres in length was seemingly impossible. Thankfully though, James knew a spot where it should be easier to find them, where the grass was a little shorter and slightly sparser than these thick patches we were searching in.

As we approached this particular area, we could hear a good few calling. Frogs are always easier to find at night, when they are generally more active and call from more obvious positions. However, we thought we’d have a quick try before heading back to camp for dinner, and resuming the search after dark. We were trying to track them down by their call, but as soon as you got one or two meters away, the little blighters would go silent. However, there was one that didn’t stop calling. Luck was on our side, and we spotted one quite high up in a grass tuft, calling. I scooped it up in my hands in great excitement, and called James to 100% confirm what I was holding- it was indeed a Mistbelt Chirping Frog! I was overjoyed! James was too, as despite his research work, he had only seen a handful of them. But our luck didn’t end there.

We returned to the sight that evening. We tracked down one which was calling in a tuft of grass. We were desperately trying to pinpoint its location, as it would emit a chirp every now and then. I thought it was in one place, and James thought it was in another. Their calls can confuse you like that. Eventually, we discovered we were looking in the wrong place. We thought it was calling at the base of the grass, when in fact, it had climbed around thirty centimetres up the grass clump, and was calling from there! Stunned at our luck of now finding two, we then went onto find another three in quick succession! Five endangered Mistbelt Chirping Frog, wow, just wow! We just couldn’t believe our luck! Our hard work certainly paid off!

This frog is one of the most difficult species to find that I have ever searched for. It’s been a species I have long wanted to see, and I feel privileged that my chance finally came around. We are now one of the few people that have actually seen and photographed this frog. What a special little animal.

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It really is tiny!

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Long-toed Tree Frog

– Article written by Nick Evans of KZN Amphibian and Reptile Conservation –

KwaZulu-Natal is the most diverse and species rich province, playing host to many forms of wildlife, including frogs. The KZN Midlands is particularly fortunate to be home to many of these beautiful frog species, and one such species endemic to the area is the special little Long-toed Tree Frog.

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Long-toed Tree Frog photographed by Nick Evans

The Long-toed Tree Frog (Leptopelis xenodactylus) is simply adorable, cute, loveable, however you want to put it – except gross or ugly! The same can be said for the other two Tree Frog species in this province, the Natal and the Brown-backed. There’s just something about Tree Frogs though.

This frog’s most unique and interesting feature is what its name suggests: their very long toes. The back toes are especially long, making the frog look quite comical. These extraordinary toes come in handy when moving through the long grass. The Tree frog walks and hops across grass blades, and may even be seen hanging off long pieces of grass, using those long limbs.

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Long-toed Tree Frog photographed by Nick Evans – Note the long toes.

The Long-toed Tree Frog is a ground-dwelling species. They live in grassy wetlands, or flooded grasslands. Here, they can be seen sitting on the ground next to the water, or as mentioned, moving through the grass, where they may be looking for a mate, or a mosquito.

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Long-toed Tree Frog photographed by Nick Evans

This is an endangered species with their main threat, like all wildlife, is habitat loss and habitat degradation. It is imperative that we protect the remaining habitat and to rehabilitate wetlands and grasslands where possible. We cannot lose this precious little mosquito-muncher.

Even ranidaphobes (people who fear frogs) could not possibly cringe at the sight of these little chaps – they’re just so cute! If you ever happen to see one, be sure to take a photo and contribute to science by uploading your records to the Animal Demographic Unit’s Virtual Museum: http://vmus.adu.org.za/vm_projects.php

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Long-toed Tree Frog photographed by Nick Evans

I hope that you see the beauty of this frog in these photos which I took recently in Lion’s Bush Conservancy area. Happy frogging during this ‘froggy’ season!

Nick Evans

kzn-amphibian-reptile-conservation

Email: nickevanskzn@gmail.com
Website: www.kznamphibianreptileconservation.com

Winter Frogs

– Article by Nick Evans of KwaZulu-Natal Amphibian and Reptile Conservation

Frog activity is relatively low-key during the winter months, as it’s generally too cold for any frogs to be out and about, catching insects or calling for mates.

There are, however, two frog species which may be heard during the winter months, namely the Striped Stream Frog, and Common River Frog. Both these species can be heard during the day and at night, and they both have a similar body structure, but their colour and markings allow you to easily differentiate between the two.

The Striped Stream Frog (Strongylopus fasciatus), is a pretty little frog. It has a golden-yellow colouration, with dark stripes going down the body. These agile frogs have an exceptionally long toe on each of the back feet!

Stream

Striped Stream Frog (Strongylopus fasciatus)

Striped Stream Frogs favour wetlands and open grassy ponds, or any body of water in fact. They’re not too fussy when it comes to habitat. They have a fast, high-pitched chirping sound.

The Common River Frog (Amietia quecketti), grow to be much larger than the Stream Frogs. Their colour can vary. They’re often a dark, patchy green colouration, and sometimes brown. They have a stripe running along their back. In the more brown specimens, their stripe colour varies too, between orange and yellow.

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Common River Frog (Amietia quecketti)

 

Their back toes are more webbed than the Stream Frog. These frogs (along with the Grass Frogs, usually found in more Northern parts of S.A) could go to the animal Olympics, if there was such an event. They are incredible jumpers and powerful swimmers. You can tell they’re good at that by looking at their large, powerful legs.

Common River Frogs can be seen and heard alongside rivers and streams. They make a strange, croaking sound, followed by a few clicks!

Common River Frog

Common River Frog (Amietia quecketti)

Spring is almost upon us, and some other frogs have started to wake up after the much needed recent rains. Let’s hope we get a lot more rain in the very near future, the land desperately needs it, and those keen on frogs need it too! Once we get a bit more rain, and the temperature starts to increase, frog season will be in full-swing!

 

 

Midland’s Dwarf Chameleon

Midland’s Dwarf Chameleon – Bradypodion thamnobates

– By Nick Evans –

The Midlands is home to a vast array of amazing animals, including many species of reptiles and amphibians. One of the most striking and beautiful of the lot is the Midland’s Dwarf Chameleon (Bradypodion thamnobates).

Howick

Photographed in Howick by Nick Evans

This gorgeous, colourful chameleon is one of many species of dwarf chameleons of the genus Bradypodion. It is actually quite large for a supposedly dwarf chameleon, and can get to a length of around 20cm (including the tail)!

Chameleons, usually, are popular amongst people and most people adore them! How can you not? They’re very cute and loveable animals, with an interesting persona. People are generally often fascinated by their many interesting features. It’s usually the oven mitt- like ‘hands and feet’ and the way they move about, or the constantly rotating eyes, that people find most interesting.

Nottingham

Photographed in Nottingham Road by Nick Evans

The way chameleons hunt is truly amazing. They move slowly through the bush, blending in with their environment very well, and move like a stick in the wind, with the eyes constantly scanning for food or threats around them. They also use their long, prehensile tail for balance. In fact they can even hang off branches while clinging to it using just the tail! Once they have spotted a tasty grasshopper, both eyes focus on the insect, and it then shoots its long, sticky tongue out which hits the insect, and acts like a suction cup. It’s an incredible sight to behold! That tongue of theirs can be as long, or even longer than their body!

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Photographed in Nottingham Road by Nick Evans

Chameleons exhibit interesting behaviour. Did you know:

  • Chameleons don’t generally climb down to a pond/stream to drink. They actually drink dew or rain drops off the leaves of the shrubs that they’re on.
  • Chameleons cannot shed their tails like a gecko.
  • Like all reptiles, chameleons shed their skin. Most reptiles just leave their skin to peel off, but the chameleon will eat its shed skin! This is to supply their diet with calcium.
  • Chameleons are famous for changing colour, but this is partially a myth. If you put a chameleon on a red/blue/purple or any colour clothing, contrary to popular belief, it won’t change to that colour. Their natural colour allows them to blend in to the environment already. However, a chameleon’s colour can change to lighter or darker shades. So, for example, if a chameleon is stressed, it will become very dark.
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Photographed in Howick by Nick Evans

The Midland’s Dwarf Chameleon is currently listed as Vulnerable, but it is locally common in some parts of the Midlands. The reason why it is listed as Vulnerable, is due to habitat loss, which is an ongoing problem. Please remembers that Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA’s)  are not optional, as they are required only for certain listed activities.

We consulted Gareth Mauck at Hogarty Attorneys who informed us: “According to the National Environmental Management Act’s EIA regulations (2014), certain listed activities will be subject to an EIA. There are two streams of EIA. The first and least onerous is the Basic Assessment (BA). BA is required where environmental impacts are not likely to be significant (generally listing notice 1). The second more onerous process is the Scoping and Environmental Impact Assessment – This more onerous procedure is required where the activities fall under listing notice 2 and 3 and are generally significant environmental impacts.”

You can download the following documents:

Midland’s Dwarf Chameleons are also popular pets, especially overseas where they are commonly bred. These slow and crinkly friends are often collected by kids or people that think it’s a ‘cool’ animal to keep. Rather don’t do this, they are not easy animals to keep and are best left in the wild.

Rosetta

Photographed in Rosetta by Nick Evans

 

Consider yourself lucky should you find one of these remarkable reptiles in your garden. If you want to encourage them to your garden, plant indigenous plant species which will attract chameleon food! Don’t use pesticides, the chameleons will do that job for you!
The Midlands Dwarf Chameleon is definitely one of the gems of the area!

To find out what Nick does, you can visit his website: www.kznamphibianreptileconservation.com

Beautiful Reed Frogs of the KZN Midlands

-By Nick Evans –

Despite ‘frog season’ slowly and sadly coming to an end, one can still go out and see some of the region’s most striking species, the Reed Frogs.

Painted Reed Frog by Nick Evans

Painted Reed Frog by Nick Evans

The Reed Frogs, amongst a few others, will still be active for about another month or two. After that, once Winter arrives, the evenings will be a lot quieter without Africa’s amphibian chorus. Most frog species only breed and are active during the rainy months (Spring/Summer). That is when the night skies are at their loudest, with hundreds of frogs serenading each other! So if you don’t get a chance to go and see them this season, get ready to see them next Spring!

Yellow-striped Reed Frog by Nick Evans

Yellow-striped Reed Frog by Nick Evans

As their name suggests, Reed Frogs spend most of their time in reed beds, where they are a key link in the food chain. They are crucial to the health of the environment, just like all other frogs. They’re predators of insects such as mosquitoes and flies, and they are preyed upon by birds, snakes and more. They’re excellent climbers of course, and during the day, they are often found sticking to people’s windows and doors, hiding away from the hot sun.

Waterlily Frog by Nick Evans

Waterlily Frog by Nick Evans

Here are three of the Reed Frog species that occur in the KZN Midlands:

1. Yellow-striped Reed Frog (Hyperolius semidiscus).
A beautiful species that is a little bit larger than the other Reed Frogs in the area. They are quite easy to identify, look out for those glorious yellow-stripes going down either side of the light green body, and for their blunt snout! You’ll often hear their croak-like call coming from dams and other bodies of water.

Yellow-striped Reed Frog by Nick Evans

Yellow-striped Reed Frog by Nick Evans

2. Painted Reed Frog (Hyperolius marmoratus marmoratus)
A very pretty species. Interestingly, there are three sub-species in South Africa, ranging from the Western Cape, all the way to Northern KZN and further North.
As their name implies, they look like they’ve been hand painted, their colours can be absolutely stunning! They’re not always too easy to identify, as juveniles, which are a light brown colour, often throw people off. Their call is unmistakable though, an ear-piercing, short whistling sound. Stand near a group of breeding males and feel your ears eventually start to ring!

Painted Reed Frog by Nick Evans

Painted Reed Frog by Nick Evans

3. Waterlily Frog (Hyperolius pusillis)
One of the smaller species of Reed Frogs, Waterlily Frogs are generally found on low-lying vegetation on the water. They make quite a loud insect-like chirping noise! Obviously they love waterlilies, but they also like to sit on Duckweed, an alien invasive plant that starts to cover entire ponds. Dead reeds on the surface of the water is a favourite hang-out too.
They’re very cute little frogs, which almost appear to be see through. Look out for a female that’s full of eggs, you’ll be able to see them inside of her!

Waterlily Frog by Nick Evans

Waterlily Frog by Nick Evans

A great way to spend an evening is to go ‘frogging’! Get a small group of people together, and venture off into the nearest wetland/pond (just be security conscious of course), and have a look for these beautiful frogs, and all the other interesting animals that occupy these damp areas. Your eyes will be opened to the magic of nature! All you need is a torch, gumboots, maybe a camera, and some enthusiasm, and you’ll have a wonderful time!

Yellow-striped Reed Frog by Nick Evans

Yellow-striped Reed Frog by Nick Evans

Nick Evans runs a programme called KwaZulu-Natal Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, a chapter of The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization. The aim of the programme is to promote awareness of these ecologically important animals, and to educate the public. For snake awareness and identification talks, or frogging evenings, please email Nick at nickevanskzn@gmail.com. With assistance for snake removals, you can contact Nick on 072 8095 806, who will put you in touch with the closest snake catcher. (Nick is based in Durban).

Hisss – Helping Individuals Survive Snake Season

-by Nick Evans –

We are all aware that snake season is well underway, especially now that Summer’s here and the temperatures are constantly rising. The snakes have started to come together to mate and to hunt, after their low activity period in Winter. This causes a widespread panic and fear, especially for the well-being of family and pets. This will have been exacerbated by the much publicised snakebite, on a young girl from a Night Adder, in Pietermaritzburg recently. There is, however, no need to panic and there is no need to live in fear of snakes either.

Brown House Snake - One of the friendliest snakes to have around. Docile, non-venomous and they love eating rats! They’re brown with cream-coloured markings going down the body.

Brown House Snake – One of the friendliest snakes to have around. Docile, non-venomous and they love eating rats! They’re brown with cream-coloured markings going down the body.

Snakes are amongst one of the most feared and misunderstood animals on earth, which stems from myths, legends, superstitions and over-exaggerated tales about these unique creatures. T.V. also has a negative impact by portraying them in a false way (i.e the Anaconda movies!). The lack of understanding and education about these animals often leads to them being killed, so it’s time we change our perceptions of these ecologically important animals.

Boomslang (male)- Thicker than the harmless green snakes, with a much larger head and eyes, these snakes are actually South Africa’s most toxic snake species. Fortunately, they are very shy and are reluctant to bite unless harassed. Interestingly, and quite uniquely amongst South African Snakes, they are sexually dimorphic. Males are green with black patterns, while females are a drab brown colour.

Boomslang (male)- Thicker than the harmless green snakes, with a much larger head and eyes, these snakes are actually South Africa’s most toxic snake species. Fortunately, they are very shy and are reluctant to bite unless harassed. Interestingly, and quite uniquely amongst South African Snakes, they are sexually dimorphic. Males are green with black patterns, while females are a drab brown colour.

Contrary to popular belief, snakes do not attack people. They do not want to bite us. They are more scared of us than we are of them and that is the truth of the matter. Whenever they see us or sense our presence approaching, they either flee or remain undetected. They are very secretive and shy animals that prefer to be left alone, and that is exactly what you should do if you see a snake.

Boomslang (female)

Boomslang (female)

People are often bitten while trying to capture or kill a snake, so don’t ever try. If you see a snake while out walking, in one of the many beautiful nature reserves or conservancies in the Midlands, simply keep calm and stay still. Snakes get nervous when they see a lot of fast movement. If it’s crossing the path, keep a safe distance, appreciate the sighting, and consider yourself lucky that you have seen such a secretive animal. It will move off quite quickly. If it appears to not be moving and just basking (typical Puff Adder behaviour), either walk around it, giving a wide birth, or walk the other way. That’s all you need to do to avoid being bitten. You may shout it if you want, but you would just be wasting your breath. Snakes are completely deaf and have no ears. *NEVER pick up a snake, alive or dead. Even if you think you know what it is.

Puff Adder - Quite common in the Midlands and highly venomous. They are a thick-bodied snake, with chevron markings and a large head, that are responsible for a few snakebites every year. This is because they prefer to keep still and rely on their camouflage to conceal them. They will not definitely bite if stood on.

Puff Adder – Quite common in the Midlands and highly venomous. They are a thick-bodied snake, with chevron markings and a large head, that are responsible for a few snakebites every year. This is because they prefer to keep still and rely on their camouflage to conceal them. They will not definitely bite if stood on.

If it’s in your house, or somewhere on your property where you really don’t want it, you will have to call your local snake catcher. Otherwise, give it a chance to escape, like leaving a door/window open that leads outside. You can try the police too if you can’t get hold of a snake catcher, but make sure they do not kill it (some policemen unfortunately do). Snakes should not be killed, for your own safety, and for the well-being of the environment. They’re actually doing us a favour.

The Green Snakes - These would consist of the Spotted Bush Snake, Western Natal Green Snake and Green Water Snakes. All are completely harmless, long, thin and green, which often leads them to being identified as Boomslangs or Green Mambas. Green Mambas do not occur in the Midlands. The Bush Snakes have quite prominent spots going down the body.

The Green Snakes – These would consist of the Spotted Bush Snake, Western Natal Green Snake and Green Water Snakes. All are completely harmless, long, thin and green, which often leads them to being identified as Boomslangs or Green Mambas. Green Mambas do not occur in the Midlands. The Bush Snakes have quite prominent spots going down the body.

Snakes play a vital role in the ecosystem in two ways, as predators and as prey. Snakes are like a free pest control service, especially with regards to rats. We don’t really want rats around, as they can cause havoc in homes. Snakes are one of the many creatures that do a fantastic job at keeping rodent populations in check, so no need for rat traps or poisons, just let the local House Snake hunt in your garden. Venomous snakes like the Black Mamba, Puff Adder, Rinkhals and Mozambique Spitting Cobra, do the job just as well as House Snakes, if not better. Snakes also keep gecko populations in check, as well as all other lizards. Birds, bats, slugs, centipedes, and frogs are all on the menu.

Mozambique Spitting Cobra

Mozambique Spitting Cobra

They’re not just predators, but prey too. Birds, like raptors and herons, mongooses, genets and monitor lizards all love eating snakes, and so do some other species of snake. Yes, snakes will eat each other! They clearly are a key link in the food chain and are here for a good reason, just like all native wildlife.

Night Adder - A venomous species which is often mistaken for a Puff Adder, but is a lot smaller and a lot less toxic. They are more slender snakes than Puff Adders, brown in colour and have dark, pentagon-shaped patches going down the body.

Night Adder – A venomous species which is often mistaken for a Puff Adder, but is a lot smaller and a lot less toxic. They are more slender snakes than Puff Adders, brown in colour and have dark, pentagon-shaped patches going down the body.

So, how does one keep snakes away from one’s property? In truth, there is no set way or definite method in keeping them away. The best thing you can do is to keep your property neat and tidy. Get rid of piles of wood, bricks, and logs which provide shelter to snakes and their food. Jeyes fluid does not work, nor do any other repellants. Planting Geraniums all around your property will not keep them away either. If there’s “food” around, you’ll get snakes. If you are lucky enough to live on a farm/conservancy/reserve, you will definitely see a snake around the property at some point in time. It’s something you have to deal with while living in Africa. We are privileged with an abundance of wildlife.

Black Mamba - The most feared and notorious snake, but arguably the most shy and retreating. Occurs in some areas around Pietermaritzburg, and in Ashburton, but not a common species in the Midlands. Africa’s largest venomous snake, that averages in length of 2-2m. Highly venomous, and highly misunderstood. They have a bad, over-exaggerated reputation that is largely false.

Black Mamba – The most feared and notorious snake, but arguably the most shy and retreating. Occurs in some areas around Pietermaritzburg, and in Ashburton, but not a common species in the Midlands. Africa’s largest venomous snake, that averages in length of 2-2m. Highly venomous, and highly misunderstood. They have a bad, over-exaggerated reputation that is largely false.

So please, give the snakes a break. Next time you want to reach for a spade or stick to kill it, reach for a camera or cellphone instead. Keep a safe distance, and take a pic or too of your lucky sighting. Share your sighting with friends over email or social media! Tag the Midlands Conservancies Forum and the KwaZulu-Natal Amphibian and Reptile Conservation pages too.

Respect snakes, don’t fear or hate them. Understand that they’re fulfilling a role in nature, and they are needed.

Nick Evans runs a programme called KwaZulu-Natal Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, a chapter of The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization. The aim of the programme is to promote awareness of these ecologically important animals, and to educate the public.

For snake awareness and identification talks, or frogging evenings, please email Nick at nickevanskzn@gmail.com

With assistance for snake removals, you can contact Nick on 072 8095 806, who will put you in touch with the closest snake catcher. (Nick is based in Durban).

The Guttural Toad

Article by Nick Evans of KwaZulu-Natal Amphibian and Reptile Conservation.

The migratory birds are back, the flowers are out and the temperatures are rising, Spring is officially here, and Summer is fast approaching! It’s a busy time of the year for wildlife, as it’s the breeding season for many animals. This is the case with frogs too.

Guttural Toad

Guttural Toad

Many of us will have noticed that the frogs are now active, by hearing their choruses in full voice every night. Some of us love listening to it, others, who have ponds outside their bedroom window, might not appreciate it as much…

In South Africa we are lucky to have such a high diversity of frog species. The KZN Midlands has some rare and endemic frogs in the area, two of which are listed as Endangered (the Long-toed Tree Frog and Mistbelt Chirping Frog). What a privilege! Frogs are the fastest disappearing group of vertebrates (animals with a backbone) in the world, so we are very lucky to have so many in the area. This is why we need to do our part to conserve these wonderful creatures.

One of the most common frogs in the area, and one which starts calling earlier than most other species, is the Guttural Toad.

Guttural Toad photographed by Richard Booth

Guttural Toad photographed by Richard Booth

Guttural Toads are often labelled ‘Bullfrogs’, because of their large appearance. Bullfrogs are a completely different family and species, which do not occur in the Midlands. Toads are not a different animal to frogs, they are just a family of frogs.

Guttural Toads are quite infamous amongst people, with many who sadly dislike them. The reason? They often take-up residence in suburban gardens, and they make a loud croaking sound throughout the night. This choir of croaking lullabies often keeps people from a peaceful nights sleep, despite their best efforts.

Recent frog evening in the Karkloof. Teaching children to love and appreciate amphibian friends.

Recent frog evening in the Karkloof. Teaching children to love and appreciate amphibian friends.

Unfortunately there are many cases where people have gone to cruel and drastic measures to get rid of this “problem”. This includes hitting the poor toads with golf clubs, shooting them with air rifles, or even pouring salt on them (which dries them up and kills them). This needs to end! If you can’t tolerate the presence of frogs, you’re going to have to get rid of your pond.

A more tolerant attitude, coupled with patience for them, may help you realise that they’re actually helping you out. Having frogs in your garden indicates that you have a healthy ecosystem in your backyard. They are a crucial link in the food chain, as they are predators and prey. Frogs keep insect numbers in check, especially the ones we don’t like so much, like flies and mosquitoes. They are also food for a whole host of animals, such as birds, snakes, and small mammals.

frack frog2

If you have a garden pond or a swimming pool, you may wake up one morning and find strings of eggs inside. Those strings of eggs belong to toads. Toads lay their eggs differently to other families of frogs, in that they lay their eggs in strings instead of clumps. If this does happen in your garden, kindly move the eggs out with the pool net, and transfer them to a nearby pond or dam. Often, most of the eggs do not hatch, due to damage from the move and chlorine. But it’s worth a try!

Let’s appreciate the toads in our gardens, and take delight in their unique calls. It’s one of the many privileges that we have living here in Africa. Wouldn’t you rather hear the ‘croaks’ of nature at night over the sounds of traffic and house parties? A lot of their habitat is being destroyed, so let them live and breed in your garden. No need to buy insecticides and poisons, let the toads and other frogs do the job for you!

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