Leiopelma hochstetteri

Herpetofaunal category
Authority
Fitzinger, 1861
Common names
Hochstetter's frog
Leiopelma hochstetteri
Image attribution

Description

Hochstetter’s frog are a small robust species which camouflage very well with their stony streambank habitat. The dorsal (upper) surfaces are greenish brown to reddish brown with dark markings and numerous warts. The ventral (lower) surface is yellow brown. There is no visible tympanum (external hearing structure). Hochstetter’s frog is the only native species with webbing between the hind toes, and this webbing is only partial. Hochstetter’s frog exhibit a greater degree of sexual dimorphism than the other three Leiopelma species, with males being more muscular with broader forelimbs. Males reach SVL (snout-vent-length) of <38mm; females reach up to 47mm SVL.

Life expectancy

Up to 30 years.

Distribution

Fossils records indicate that Hochstetter’s frog was originally found over most of the North Island, however, as a result of habitat destruction and modification it is now restricted to a few Northern areas and some larger off shore islands.

Ecology and habitat

Hochstetter’s frog are a semi aquatic species, inhabiting shaded creek edges in forested areas up to altitudes of 800m. They are nocturnal, sheltering during the day in wet crevices or under logs and stones, usually close to stony streams or rocky seepages.

Social structure

Largely unknown. Hochstetter’s frog use chemical signals to mark territory.

Breeding biology

Hochstetter’s frog reach breeding age at around three years. During mating the male grasps the female around the waist and fertilises eggs as she is laying them. Approximately 20 eggs are laid each breeding season with tadpoles developing inside the egg. Unlike the other three Leiopelma species froglets hatch with well-developed hind legs, continuing their development in water without parental care.

Diet

Hochstetter’s frog are carnivorous feeding on a variety of invertebrates such as spiders and mites.

Disease

Amphibian chytrid fungus and Ranavirus pose a major threat to Hockstetter’s frog.

Conservation strategy

Hochstetter’s frog is listed on the IUCN list as ‘vulnerable’. DOC have purchased substantial areas of land with suitable habitat for populations of Hochstetter’s frog.

References

  • Auckland City Council (2016). Hochstetter's frog. Retrieved October 15, 2016 from http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/environmentwaste/coastalmarine/Documents/hochstetterfrogfactsheet.pdf
  • Gill, B., & Whitaker, T. (2007). New Zealand frogs and reptiles. Auckland: David Bateman Publishing Ltd.
  • Hitchmough, R.A., Anderson, P., Barr, B., Monks, J., Lettink, M., Reardon, J., Tocher, M., & Whitaker, T. (2012). Conservation status of New Zealand reptiles, in New Zealand Threat Classification Series 2. DOC: Wellington.
  • Jewell, T. (2011). A photographic guide to reptiles and amphibians of New Zealand.Auckland: New Holland Publishing.