Burrowing frogs

Australia can be a pretty dry place with long periods without rain.  As a result a number of our frogs keep moist by hiding away in burrows and come out when conditions are suitable.

I have blogged previously about turtle frogs that spend much of their lives down burrows.  My friend Jimmy had great information where 2 species of burrowing frogs could be found at the same location after the first heavy rainfall in April – except that rain didn’t happen in Perth this year!  We had been waiting for some rain all through April and it was now May and some reasonable rain was forecast.

Jimmy and I headed down Brookton Hwy at night and just before where the Bibbulmun Track crosses the Hwy there is a smallish wetland of sorts.

As we parked the car we could hear a chorus of frogs – the Whooping frog (Heleioporus inornatus) – “whoop, whoop, whoop” as the name suggests.

and the Sand frog (Heleioporus psammophilus) – “put, put, put” – some liken it to an outboard motor.

We could hear both species calling but just couldn’t find any on the surface.  We found lots of excavations with holes and approaching carefully and waiting – you could often hear the frogs calling out of them!

We looked extensively but no evidence of frogs on the surface could be found – it was still pretty dry as the rainfall had been fairly light.  The previous year Jimmy had found Whooping frogs jumping on the highway!  We dug up a burrow where we could hear a Whooping frog and voila – one popped out of the sand.  We washed it down with a little water to reveal the uniform brown that is characteristic of the species.  Some of the 5 Heleioporus species can be a little hard to tell apart from just looks alone – the calls are a pretty good indication.

Whooping frog @ Ashendon, Brookton Hwy

We kept hunting for Sand frogs which look similar to Moaning frogs but the call is very different.  We dug a burrow which cork-screwed into the sand but we didn’t manage to follow it.  We will have to wait until next year!

I did see a nice spider but my photo doesn’t do it justice – I think this might be a communal family one but I didn’t take a photo of the mass of web at the top of this plant.

Anyway – that leaves 3 Heleioporus I am yet to see – the Sand frog as mentioned in this blog and also the Hooting frog and the Western spotted frog – both can be found further inland and I just need to keep searching in the right spots!

7 thoughts on “Burrowing frogs

  1. Good sound recording of the whooping frog. I was reading that the whooping frog is the least patterned of the Heleioporus. This one probably enjoyed the water you poured on it.


  2. This Jimmy seems to be a mine of information about frogs. Great photos. When you wandering a bit closer to home, I wouldn’t mind coming, I love frogs! Be worth asking John Dell where are some good spots. I don’t think we would be allowed to go into that place next door to AB, that would have been an interesting place to poke about.

    Do you mind if I send your blog to my daughter?



    1. Hi Maureen,

      Yes Jimmy has a lot of information that he has been building up over the years.

      Am sure I will visit some closer spots throughout the winter – I have a few other frog targets!

      Happy for you to send onto your daughter – I would love it if she has other information for me finding wildlife as well.

      Cheers Ry


  3. Very nice mate!
    I’m waaaay down on the Heleioporus count hahaha!
    A friend of mine found a Hooting frog in the Kalamunda NP the other day!

    And I found my old friend – Notaden nichollsi 🙂


    1. Hehe – I think you could visit this spot in the next few weeks and perhaps find them.

      Interesting about the Hooting frog – can you provide me anymore details? I had heard you can find them at Lesmurdie Falls (but never had any luck) or out Chidlow way.

      The Desert spadefoot looks awesome! I also want to find the Crawling toadlet (Pseudophryne guentheri) and Humming frog (Neobatrachus pelobatoides).


  4. Hi Ry, Lovely close up pics of those frogs. Always interesting to check out your foties on your blogs! 🙂


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