Amazing Baw Baw Frogs
Baw Baw Frogs are unusual among amphibians for their ability to live in an extremely cold, high-altitude habitat. The adults are dark brown with lighter patches around the head. Their skin has many bumps and ridges, including a large paratoid gland that runs from eye to shoulder.
These frogs are probably inactive during the coldest months when the plateau is covered in snow. Baw Baw Frogs breed between September and December. Males attract females by calling from concealed, moist areas on the ground. The harsh, rasping call sounds like ‘aaaaark kruk kruk kruk’ and is most often heard when the weather is warm and humid.
During mating, females lay 50–180 eggs in a sphagnum moss nest, using their feet to beat the eggs into a foamy mass. Males fertilise the eggs externally. After five to eight weeks, the eggs hatch and the tadpoles wriggle free into small pools of water. The pale, unpigmented tadpoles do not feed and are sustained by a large internal yolk mass. The tadpoles grow limbs and lose their tail as they develop, leaving the water once metamorphosis is complete.
Baw Baw Frogs are critically endangered. Fewer than 250 are left in a tiny area of about ten square kilometres. With continuing habitat loss and disease, this species is in serious danger of becoming extinct.