The Water Holding Frog

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The Water Holding Frog, (cyclorana platycephala), does just that, it hold water and it can hold it for a long time.  Some call it unusual others call it a freak of nature, but what the water holding frog really is, is unique and interesting.

Water holding frogs have a wide, flat head, thick body and webbed feet that are great for shoveling dirt.  They range in color from dull grey, dark olive, dark brown and green with a whitish underbelly.  Their skin is smooth to the touch with low rising warts spread over the body.  Females are larger than the males, growing up to 7cm, were as males reach 5cm.

The water holding frog lives in the dry, desert areas of Australia.  For the most part they are just like any other frog, until the water from the last rains begins to dry up.

Water holding frogs have this unique ability to store water in its body and survive on it underground for long periods of time.  How is this possible?  During times of rain the water holding frog is able to absorb an additional 50% of its weight in water.  This water is then stored in its bladder and in pockets in its skin for use at a latter time.  

When the ground starts to dry up, the water holding frog will use its webbed feet and burrow deep into the ground to escape the sun and heat.  Once underground the frog will surround itself in a dead skin cocoon and slow down its system.  The cocoon prevents the frog from loosing water, making it possible for them to remain underground without additional food and water.  

When the rains begin again, the water holding frog will break from its cocoon, return to the surface and feed itself.  During this time they can often be found under water searching and feeding on small frogs, tadpoles, small fish and insects.

While above ground the water holding frog takes this opportunity to mate.  Male water holding frogs will use a mating call to attract a female.  Once the mating has taken place, the female water holding frog will lay her eggs, up to 500 at a time, in puddles of water left behind from the rains.  Once the eggs hatch, the tiny tadpoles must change into frogs before the ground dries up.  Luckily for the tadpoles this change happened rather quickly.

Major threats to the water holding frog include change of habitat and human interaction.  When thirsty and there is no water about, native people will search for the water holding frog and use its stored water for themselves.


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