Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Archey's Frog

New Zealand is home to four different frog species, all of which are rather primitive compared to their cosmopolitan relatives. This is Archey's Frog. It is found in only two different parts of New Zealand - the Coromandel and near Te Kuiti. Pesticides and predation by introduced predators are partly responsible for its decline.

Our frogs have an extra bone in their vertebrae and retain the remains of their tail muscles. They are largely terrestrial, but require a relatively moist habitat. The youngsters retain the tail through their juvenile stage as it provides more surface area for them to breathe through until their lungs are fully developed.

Yes, it's true - they do not even require ponds to breed.

Instead the female lays her eggs in moist soil, in which the tadpoles grow (in the egg) and develop into froglets, before hatching out to ride on their father's back.

They have no external eardrum and do not croak although they do chirp and yelp when frightened. Their eyes are round - not slitted. They hunt using their mouth - not their tongue and they cannot swim like a "normal" frog - they dog-paddle if placed in water.

Archey's is the smallest of our native frogs. It is also CRITICALLY ENDANGERED. In the last 10 years the population has dropped by 80%.

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