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The Intermediate Puddle Frog: Ghana’s Strangest Animal

Updated: Aug 11, 2020

Nearly two decades ago, scientists found a strange new frog in Ghana’s Ankasa National Park, which they named the Intermediate Puddle Frog (Phrynobatrachus intermedius). This new frog looked very similar to two other different frog species, the Liberia River Frog (P. liberiensis) and the Coast River Frog (P. plicatus), and it’s because of this resemblance between the two frogs that it was named ‘Intermediate.’

The Intermediate Puddle Frog is small, almost 28 mm in length, which is roughly about the size of 10 Ghana pesewas coins. Compared to other frogs in the same genus, the Intermediate Puddle Frog is a big Phrynobatrachus frog as most frogs in this family are a lot smaller and are usually less than 25 mm! Like its ‘sister,’ the Liberia River Frog, in addition to being big, the Intermediate Puddle Frog is broad headed. These two frogs share nearly the same colour variations with both having several white patches on their undersides that blend into the skin on their thighs and then the white reappears on their lower legs. Even young Liberia River Frogs also have the same visible pair of clear spots that Intermediate Puddle Frogs have on their backs. Physical characteristics found on the Coast River Frogs is also an amazing sight. Both the Intermediate Puddle Frog and the Coast River Frogs’ heads possess a very distinct dark-brown face mask that looks like they are wearing a Zorro mask. They also have a more visible double lumps or ‘ridges’ that run parallel to their backs although, less so on the Intermediate Puddle Frog. Additionally, the Coast River Frog and the Intermediate Puddle Frogs both have well developed webbed feet.

The Intermediate Puddle Frog on its own has an amazing blend of colour variations. It is a reddish-brown frog sprayed at the middle with bluish spots. When looking at it lying on its back, its smooth underside has a condition where its dark throat loses coloration on the stomach to expose several white patches. The Intermediate Puddle Frog is generally located within the swamps of primary rainforest. Since it is a Phrynobatrachus frog, it is believed that they breed in temporary water bodies, like ponds, where many small eggs are deposited to form a clutch.

Since the discovery of the two adult females and a juvenile, the Intermediate Puddle Frog has not been seen again, not even in areas like Tanoé-Ehy Swamp Forest, and Banco and Taï National Parks in Cote d’lvoire where they were thought to be possible habitats. Unfortunately, its only habitat is threatened by the removal of raffia palm trees for ‘palm wine.’ The International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the global body that ranks species’ level of threat, says that the Intermediate Puddle Frog is critically endangered or “a step close to vanishing.”

Save Ghana Frogs is now extensively searching for Ghana’s strangest frog at Ankasa National Park to save it from vanishing. Where raffia palm trees have been extracted, new ones will be replanted. Likewise, local palm wine tappers will be assisted to plant their own raffia palms on their farms to reduce their demand for wild ones.

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