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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Hochstetter's Frog

 Here is Hochstetter's Frog - Leiopelma hochstetteri. This is probably the most endangered animal to be featured in this blog so far and it is also the first native terrestrial vertebrate I have found in New Zealand after 7 months of nature rambles.

Hochstetter's Frog - Leiopelma hochstetteri

The last few decades are full of tales of calamitous population crahses of various amphibians and while this frog is more widespread than the other native New Zealand frogs, it's habitat is fragmented and more in contact with the upheaval caused by human factors. 

Hochstetter's Frog - Leiopelma hochstetteri

An Enigma: I was recentlly reading Joel Samuel Polack's New Zealand Journal 1831-1837 (much recommended for the curious anecdotes and outrageously florid writing style!) He mentions frogs being widespread in swamps in New Zealand three times in the book. Each time he describes them as swamp dwelling creatures that croak loudly when it rains:

p150: ...became continually fearful of the croaking of frogs, who congregate in the adjoining marshes in great numbers, from the ridiculous superstitions of these 

p305: Their notes partake of the melodious croaking of the frogs, whose vocal powers are exerted for their own satisfaction in the adjacent swamps and morasses. 

p318: ...toads, frogs, with their barometrical croak! croak! abound in the swamps. These subsultive reptiles do not differ from the species in Europe, each being animated with a similar determination to subjoin their remarks with open throat on approaching rain ; and, near to mountainous districts, the situation of these hydromancers is no sinecure, from the frequency of the falling fluid.

The native New Zealand frogs are all practically silent - they don't even have the physiology to be capable of loud croaking. None of the existing species are swamp dwellers either. It would be interesting to see if anyone can find corroborating notes from the early years of the colony.

I found this article on the same topic form 1962:

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