While grumpy cats have been getting all the attention recently, there’s another animal with a permanently scowling expression. This amphibian is known as a rain frog or black rain frog, and it’s pretty awesome. The nocturnal creature has a number of unusual traits, but it’s the ability to puff itself up several times its size and fold its legs underneath itself that stands out. The frog has also been known to do these things in the presence of predators, and scientists aren’t sure why.
The frogs are fossorial, meaning they spend the majority of their time underground, and they eat insects, termites, snails, other frogs and even earthworms. They can be found in southern Africa in various habitats, including grasslands and savannas. They are also known to be excellent burrowers, and their stubby limbs have tubercles that are specially adapted for digging.
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Their bodies are round and chubby, and their short limbs make them poor jumpers. They have evolved to compensate by walking, using their hands like a kind of Velcro system, and grabbing onto the sides of their sand-dwelling burrows.
It’s a good thing that their skin is bumpy or they would get lost in the sand. It gives them a distinct appearance and is used to absorb moisture, and their body shape helps them keep cool by reducing their surface area.
These frogs are not very well understood, and researchers are still trying to determine the role they play in their ecosystem. They are often spotted during the day in savannas, and it’s possible that they’re responsible for bringing moisture to the region. They may also play a key role in the distribution of plants and animals, as well as helping to form new sand dunes.