Best 10 Ghost frogs fact, adaptations, characteristics

Ghost frogs

Ghost frogs are also known as Heleophrynidae. This family contains two species having seven species. Ghost frogs do not live in still waters. They are found in fast-moving streams near mountains. 

These frogs have several adaptations that enable them to survive in rocks near the hills. Ghost frogs are medium-sized frogs. These frogs can grow about six centimeters and usually have tampered bodies.

This feature enables them even to survive and climb inside the spaces between rocks. They have large toes; this is also an adaptation; the toe size is quite more significant than their size. The larger toe disc enables them to cling firmly on the rocks.

They also have specialized teeth called the labial teeth, enabling them to hold the tadpoles inside their mouth. The mouths are further modified so that they can suck the food while staying still.

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Ghost frog facts

Some of the amazing ghost frog facts are mentioned below which you may not know before:

  1. The ghost frog belongs to the family Heleophryne and contains five to seven species. 
  2. Ghost frogs are found in the Mountain streams of Southern Africa.
  3. They are aquatic/terrestrial and live under the rocks in the rapid flowing streams.
  4. You can actually see through the muscles and the organs of the Ghost frog because they have skin over their bellies.
  5. Ghost frogs have webbed feet, and their toes have broad, round shapes tips, which help them cling to the rocks firmly.
  6. Ghost frogs can grow about two to three centimeters in length.
  7. These frogs have flat bodies, which is an advantage for them to hide in the rocks’ crevices easily.
  8. The ghost frogs’ tadpoles have sucking mouths, which helps them hold onto the stone or any substrate while staying in a flowing stream.
  9. Ghost frog’s tadpoles take almost two years before they actually become adult frogs.

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Ghost frog predators

Frogs have several predators, including fishes, birds. Not only are these frogs also eaten by several reptiles as well. Birds like ducks, seans, geese, crows, hawks, eagles, and all those that particularly remain in the water all eat frogs as a part of their diet. Reptiles like snakes, moccasins, and swimming snakes also munch upon frogs. Therefore, frogs have several predators out in the wild, reducing their lifespan in the wild.

Ghost frog adaptations

Ghost frogs are known as ghost frogs mainly due to the transparent skin through which we can clearly see their internal organs and stomach. Ghost frogs have several morphological adaptations that enable them to live in fast-moving streams. Some of these adaptations include:

  1. Ghost frogs in the wild have excellent camouflage. They are almost invisible when they are hiding between the crevices of the rocks. The dull grey or brown color provides a further edge in camouflaging.
  2. Ghost frogs have short front legs and long flat hind legs. This feature also helps them to climb and hide easily in the crevices of the rocks.
  3. Their feet are webbed, with toes having broad tips, these broad toes and webbed feet help them to stick tightly to the ground.
  4. Ghost frogs have big eyes that are very bulging. Their pupils are similar to cats.
  5. The ghost frog’s tongue is round-shaped for sticking it up to the prey while only teeth are present on their upper jaw.
  6. Ghost frogs are small to medium-sized frogs, which is an excellent thing for them because they have to hide under the rocks, so their small size helps them. At their maximum, the ghost frogs can grow up to about 2 inches.
  7. There is no sexual discrimination between ghost frogs; however, females are larger in size than males. Females can grow up to about three inches.
  8. Males also have pointed spines on their back legs, front legs, back, and the thighs.

Ghost frog characteristics

Having beautiful colors and unique textures, ghost frogs blend seamlessly with the mountain ecosystem. Ghost frogs justify their name because of their still personality and their ability to diffuse into the background. 

Cape ghost frogs also have another name called Purcell’s ghost frogs, and they overall have brown bodies with black spots and blotches over their bodies. It seems as if someone has drawn those scars over their bodies or sprayed the paint with a paintbrush because they are so delicate. When this frog lives in s green moss vegetation with plant debris and pebbles all around, it will become so hard to identify them where the frogs are. Most of the people and even their deadly predators pass through them, and they never notice them, hence justifying their name “Ghost frogs.”

The inner sides of the ghost frogs e.g., their bellies, are lightly colored. Their bellies are almost transparent, and one can see their stomach and internal organs that also add up to their “Ghost frog quality.”

A few frogs also have dark-colored blotches, patterns, or markings on their neck or throat. Ghost frogs primarily live in the holes or crevices of the rocks, stones in the flowing streams among mountains. Sometimes, they are also present in areas where there are waterfalls to look up to eat.

Ghost frogs do most of their activities at night, and hunting is the most important of them. The calls of the ghost frogs are identical to a slow, quiet bell ringing repeatedly. The females mate with the males during the breeding season and lay the egg masses under the rocks. After four or five days, the eggs transform into tadpoles. The nurturing tadpoles have sucker-like faces so that they are capable of holding the stone even in the fast-flowing stream. The tadpoles take almost two years to become adult frogs, the whole process known as “Metamorphosis”.

Ghost frog population

According to the research and World conservation Union, out of the seven species of the ghost frogs, two species are highly endangered and are on the verge of extinction. These two species include Hewitt’s ghost frog. 

This ghost frog species lives in four streams that are almost above sea level.  The frog remains aquatic during the breeding season; however, it spends the rest of his life as a terrestrial frog. Fires, deforestation, habitat destruction, and urban expansion are reducing the places to live for these frog species, and that’s why they are outnumbered. 

Moreover, Rose’s ghost frog is the second frog of this species, which is highly endangered. This frog also lives in streams at the height of seven hundred and eighty-five feet to three thousand four hundred and eighty feet over sea level.

New plants are destroying Their habitat, frogs eating fishes, and hence it is difficult for them to survive. Fires are another cause. Moreover, tadpoles need more than one year to become frogs; therefore, if more water is spilled over them than the required amount, they will die, and this is what is happening. All the factors altogether are decreasing the ghost frog’s population drastically. 

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What does a ghost frog eat? 

The diet of the Ghost frog varies throughout their life cycle. When they pop out from their eggs and become tadpoles, they rely on a vegetarian diet, including plant scrapes, moss debris, etc. They have this period for almost two years when the Ghost tadpoles become adult frogs, their diet shifts towards the carnivorous. 

The adult ghost frog in the wild relies on several kinds of big and small insects, including ants, flies, beetles, spiders, grasshoppers, etc. They capture the prey by their disc-shaped tongues.

Where do ghost frogs live? 

Ghost frogs have made their homes in the mountains of South Africa, in the forests and lowlands. As soon as the mating season approaches, the ghost frogs try to find a fast-flowing stream, and for this purpose, they travel about one kilometer. After finding a suitable spot, they attract the females by their bell-like calls and perform the breeding process to continue their lineage. 

Why are ghost frogs endangered? 

There are several factors that add up to the question, “Why are the ghost frogs endangered?” These include:

  1. Habitat destruction
  2. Loss and scarcity of food
  3. Flooding of extra water, killing the tadpoles
  4. Urban expansion 
  5. Unannounced fires 
  6. Road developments
  7. Visitors in the Parks may cause some damage to the frogs. 
  8. Predators, mainly the fishes that eat frogs, are also a significant cause of ghost frogs’ decreasing population. They eat their tadpoles as well as their frogs, reducing their population. 

African ghost frog 

They are inhabiting the regions of South Africa. More popular as Rose’s ghost frog, the African ghost frog is a medium-sized frog with magenta or purple patches. The body color is green. This frog-like other ghost frogs, also have disc structures on their toes and webbed feet. 

This ghost frog’s species are found only in limited areas of South Africa in the sloppy range of Table mountains. 

The tadpoles of the rose’s ghost frogs spend their entire tadpole period in fast-flowing streams. However, these tadpoles are at risk. Because these streams are becoming empty, and they are getting dry because of the plantation of pines.

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Hence, these frogs are only found in the Table mountain range streams, and they are found nowhere else. Therefore these frogs are critically in threat. Moreover, habitat loss is just adding fuel to the fire pushing this species towards extinction. 

Ghost frog breeding

Ghost frogs usually hide in the holes and crevices of the pebbles and the rocks along the streams during the day time. However, they come out of these holes whenever they are hungry and sit beneath the waterfalls. 

Ghost frogs show most of their activity during the night; therefore, they are also hard to spot during the day. The breeding season of the ghost frogs begins when the rainy season of the spring finishes. 

At this time, the males, as a result of their instinct, begin to call. They do this from under the rocks or near a stream, and even in the splashing water of a waterfall. 

The calls of the ghost frogs are identical to a slow and gentle doorbell ringing frequently. If the female gets attracted to the male, they then mate and lay their eggs beneath an underwater rock because the tadpoles will stay underwater. 

After a week, the eggs transform into tadpoles, and the tadpoles then complete the metamorphosis stage and then develop into adults. The whole process takes almost one or two years. 

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