Love Underground: The Shovel-Nosed Chamber Frog

We never stop being amazed by how amphibians are able to survive in the harshest environments. The Shovel-Nosed Chamber frog (Leptodactylus bufonius), for example, lives in the dry subtropical or tropical shrublands or grasslands of Paraguay, Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil, in areas that have only intermittent freshwater lakes, marshes, and ponds. But this frog has evolved many incredible adaptations for overcoming the challenges of living in these mostly dry conditions.

Going Underground

Unlike most frogs, Shovel-Nosed frogs don’t have ponds or other aquatic areas in which to lay their eggs. They have only the muddy remains of ponds that have dried up. So with their shovel-like noses, they dig a chamber in the mud and then top it with a mud cone. Because no water can penetrate these chambers, the frogs produce a foam nest from the female’s albumin secretions to keep the tadpoles moist. But there is no food in the nest—scientists believe the tadpoles metabolize their own issues for food. Then the frogs wait for a big rainstorm that will wash away the burrow and create a predator-free pond (like a vernal pool) for the tadpoles to grow in. But the story isn’t quite over. After the Shovel-Nosed frogs vacate their burrow, a local toad reuses it as a hiding place.

Take a look at this amazing video of the Shovel-Nosed frog by FROGS ARE GREEN friend Joe Furman. We especially like the frogs’ little mating wiggle!

About the filmmaker:

Joe Furman lives in Houston Texas. He is a lifelong animal photographer and makes wildlife documentaries, mostly about reptiles and amphibians. He is also an artist and cartoonist and father of one.

Like most kids, Joe was attracted to frogs and toads and caught and kept them as pets for awhile, but then would release them back into the wild. He had, and still has, a neverending curiosity about tadpoles and the life cycle of frogs. In his twenties he got the chance to go to Costa Rica to look for the Golden Toads. This event set the course of his life ever since. He has traveled around the world with different organizations to study, film, and photograph reptiles and amphibians, and other wildlife. The kid has never left him. He still love frogs!