The Namaqua rain frog was first spotted near Port Nolloth in 1926, just after the first diamond had been found there. This frog prefers to hide from snakes under the sand and needs no water during the tadpole stage.
Size Adult frogs attain a body length of 46 mm.
Description This species has a squat, rotund body with a short, narrow head which has a relatively large eye, horizontally elliptical pupil, hidden tympanum, flat face and narrow mouth. The limbs are short and stumpy (shorter than the body width) and the fingers and toes lack webbing and adhesive discs. The palm of the hand has prominent tubercles and the basal subarticular tubercles tend to be double. The upper body surface is brown with lighter brown to cream patches on the back and sides. These patches are occasionally fused together and may include irregular pairs of paravertebral patches. The underside is mainly smooth and white, but the skin is translucent in parts, and the throat area may be granular with dark markings around the jaw line. The advertisement call is a rising whistle produced at a rate of about two per second.
Biology This frog is a burrowing species that spends most of its time underground and does not inhabit water. It occurs generally in dry, low-lying areas that are predominantly sandy and well covered with scrub vegetation – but has also been recorded in hilly areas with more loamy and rocky substrates. When disturbed, these frogs have the ability to inflate their bodies dramatically as a defence mechanism to deter predators. Breeding activity has been recorded in winter, spring and summer. The advertisement calls of the males are associated with damp conditions caused by rain, fog or heavy dew. The formation of mating pairs takes place on the surface of the ground and, while in amplexus, the frogs bury themselves backwards into the soil. The eggs are laid in an underground nest and metamorphosis takes place inside the egg capsules with the young emerging as fully formed froglets.
Distribution The distribution of this frog extends from the Orange River area southwards through the lowlands of Namaqualand to the Melkbosstrand area on the West Coast.