While sifting through our mound of black cotton soil yesterday, we eventually found an unsiftable moist blob. It turns out the reflective mass was a tremolo sand frog (Tomopterna cryptotis) taking refuge over a foot deep into the mound. I left briefly to bring my camera, and when I returned the frog was nowhere to be seen. But sure enough, after some more digging, Clayton and I managed to resurface the plump amphibian. Frogs in the genus Tomopterna are commonly called burrowing frogs due to their habit of dwelling beneath the ground’s surface. Because of the harsh seasonal climate here in the semi-arid savanna, most of the year is spent lying dormant underground. Only during periods of adequate rainfall, burrowing frogs will emerge during the night to feed and breed in puddles and streams. After this frog hopped around the mound, it sunk down and began digging into the soil with its hindlimbs. The frog excavated backwards for a bit (sort of like doing a shimmying dance), then it would rotate and repeat. By the time the frog had disappeared under the surface it had done a full 180 degree rotation. As it continues to burrow out of view, the frog probably continues to descend in the same corkscrew motion.
Photographed and filmed after disturbance