Lone Spadefoot Toad calling in Melton South

After several days rain in late March a single Spadefoot Toad was heard calling from the small wetland in Rees Road, in Melton South. The call is a long drawn out purring sound that can carry a surprisingly long distance in the night. These uncommon frogs burrow deep into the soil when their wetland dries out, using ‘spades’ on their hind legs. Despite their name, they are frogs, not toads! Apparently they may burrow a metre deep into the soil to escape drought. They have been recorded in only a few places around Melbourne, including Melton South & Sunbury. Several have been recorded in Rees Road Wetland in Melton South as well as beside Pinkerton Forest near Cottrell.

In the past they could be heard calling about three days after heavy rains. Recent rains were not heavy enough to fill the wetland with water and bring them out of their refuges deep underground, hence only the one frog calling, & only for one night. Hopefully more heavy rains may fill the wetland with water & induce these elusive frogs to the surface to breed. This one must have had a frustrating dig from its underground bunker, only to find no water in the wetland above & none of its fellows.

Their future here is uncertain as a large housing estate is developing just across the road. Hopefully this remnant population will not be destroyed by housing development.

These photos were taken by Richard Akers about ten years ago


Rees Road wetland


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