Amphibians (frogs)

Amphibians are the most primitive class of land-living vertebrates being the first vertebrate animals to inhabit the land. Nevertheless, despite adopting a life on land, amphibians remain dependant on moist or aquatic habitats, particularly for breeding. They are also the only vertebrates which go through metamorphosis, with their gill-breathing and mostly aquatic young developing into adults with lungs, thus enabling them to survive out of water. The class Amphibia, which comprises more than 4700 species, is represented in South Africa by the order Anura, a group of tailless amphibians commonly referred to as frogs. Frogs have adapted to habitats ranging from mountain tops to sea level and from forests to deserts, and some are completely terrestrial whereas others are largely aquatic. South African frogs belong to 10 families and over 50% of the 115 or so species occur nowhere else. Although South Africa has a fairly wide and unique diversity of frogs for its size, there are considerably less species in the arid west than in the wetter eastern parts and southern coastal areas of the country. One of the interesting characteristics of frogs is their call. Each species has its own distinctive mating call which the males use to attract females to breeding sites, and as frogs are generally more often heard than seen, this is a useful means of identifying species. Owing to the semi-aquatic life-cycle of most species, and their semi-permeable skins, amphibians are especially vulnerable to pollutants and other environmental stresses. Consequently they can be regarded as useful environmental bio-monitors, and may serve as an early-warning alarm system indicating changes in the environment and potential threats to other organisms, including Homo sapiens. Frogs form the prey of various birds, mammals, reptiles, fish and even other frogs, and contribute to the control of insect pests and other invertebrates which they consume in large numbers.

The frog species profiles were prepared by Atherton de Villiers (CapeNature).

Species occurring in the GCBC:

Common Platanna

Banded Stream Frog

Cape Caco

Raucous Toad

Namaqua Rain Frog

Cape River Frog

Cape Ghost Frog

Cape Mountain Rain Frog

Cape Sand Frog

Cape Sand Toad

Clicking Stream Frog

Karoo Toad

Tradouw Mountain Toad

Sand Rain Frog

Northern Moss Frog

 

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