Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Southern Sandhill Frog

Animal of the Month

What's so special about it?

Southern Sandhill Frog; Photo by WA Museum
Australia has a number of frog species that are adapted to living in some pretty challenging environments, but the Southern Sandhill Frog (Arenophryne xiphorhyncha) beats them all! Along with a closely related Northern species (A. rotunda), this chubby frog ekes out a living amongst the scorching sand dunes of the Western Australian coastline. It has developed a number of adaptations that allow it to survive there,
including the rare amphibian ability of burrowing head-first. In such a dry environment, it has also had to alter the typical frog life-cycle so that it skips the free-swimming tadpole stage. Instead, all development occurs inside an egg, and a tiny adult frog emerges when metamorphosis is complete.

Where can I see one?

This strange little animal was only discovered in 2008, when a population in Kalbarri National Park that was assumed to be the Northern species was examined for the first time. It's entire existence on this Earth is confined to just the stretch of desert between Kalbarri and Shark Bay on the Western Australian coastline. Your best chance of finding one would require finding a trackway and then digging carefully where it stops!

Is there anything similar near Brisbane?

Scarlet-sided Pobblebonk; Photo by Darren Phillips
While the burrowing frogs we have living in Brisbane aren't as unique as the Sandhill Frog, they are certainly more colourful! Scarlet-sided Pobblebonks (Limnodynastes terraereginae) are large and colourful amphibians that appear on the surface of the soil after rain, making a sound that gives them their other name of Banjo Frog.

Southern Sandhill Frog image courtesy of Western Australian Museum.
Scarlet-sided Pobblebonk image courtesy of 'Wetland Info' Queensland Government.


  1. amazing frogs both of them but I do love the pobblebonk name - I think they were ones I heard when travelling out to the Warrumbungles - made that amazing sound; kind of made me think of the big bamboo wind-chimes!

    1. Yeah, I think the official name is now 'Northern Banjo Frog', but I just love 'Scarlet-sided Pobblebonk' too much to let it go!

  2. Astonishing facts of an amazing frog with incredible adaptations !

    1. Yes, you don't often think of frogs as beach/sand living animals!

  3. Nice post - I hear a lot more frogs than I see! Which I don't suppose is that unusual, but not receiving a calendar - now thats strange!!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

    1. That is the way with frogs! I am planning a frog-excursion later this month and unfortunately it makes it very hard to present them in a blog. Calendar problem is easily solved in the bargain bin at Westfield though! :)