-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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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 email@example.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).