Satara Summer 2021 – Brown-backed Tree Frog

A very interesting frog that we have never seen before, that is until our December 2021 visit to Satara in the Kruger National Park, is the Brown-backed Tree Frog, and these two individuals might also have remained hidden if they didn’t betray their presence with their call near where we were standing.

Leptopelis mossambicus

In South Africa, the Brown-backed Tree Frog is found in northern Kwazulu-Natal and the Lowveld and escarpment of Mpumalanga and Limpopo. They’re also found in Eswatini (previously Swaziland), eastern Zimbabwe, central and southern Mozambique and the extreme southern tip of Malawi. The IUCN lists it as being of least concern.

The Brown-backed Tree Frog inhabits moist savannas, coastal forest and mangrove swamps. During the dry season these frogs remain underground for up to 6 months, buried in the soil about a foot deep. With the first rains of summer they emerge to breed. The males then climb into bushes, reeds, shrubs and trees, up to about 1.5m high, and usually close to open water, from where they call to attract females. During this time the males may become involved in fights with one another. During mating the females deposit the fertilised eggs underneath dead leaves near the water’s edge. Here the eggs remain, developing slowly, until the next good spate of rain, during which the tadpoles wriggle out the eggs and to the water, where they then complete their metamorphosis. Adults measure about 6cm in length. Brown-backed Tree Frogs feed on a wide variety of invertebrates.

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