I encountered the Malabar Wart Frog (Fejervarya rufescens) during my surveys on the edges of Pushpagiri Wildlife Reserve. I was sitting on the edge of a beautiful freshwater stream admiring the lush green vegetation around me. Shoals of Bi-coloured frogs’ tadpoles swam and fed on algae in the stream. It was a beautiful sight! Suddenly, a tiny frog that came hopping from behind me caught my eye. It took one last jump and found a comfortable place at the base of a river weed in the shallow waters of the stream. I tilted my head forwards to make eye contact with my new frog friend. Its eyes resembled that of a fish and its overall appearance was that of a toad. I sat quietly without any movement for the next fifteen minutes taking down important notes on its habitat and the surrounding temperature and humidity. While I continued to look at it, it sat there patiently without any movement as though it were imitating me! After about twenty minutes of being frozen, I was reminded that I am in an active elephant territory and must return to my base before it gets dark. I decided to take a couple of pictures and started trekking back thinking about this bizarre frog that I had just encountered.
After getting home, I scanned through all the available scientific literature that I could get my hands on. Forty-eight hours later, I had made my list of interesting facts about this lesser known creature –
- Fejervaryan frogs belong to the family called Dicroglossidae. Dicroglossid frogs are sometimes called as ‘true frogs’ given its appearance and range of distribution. They are all mostly small, brown coloured, ground dwelling creatures. They live under leaf litter on the forest floors, in paddy fields or on the edges of freshwater streams.
- Here’s a list of all Fejervaryan frogs in India in the table below. The Western Ghats alone are home to sixteen species of these ground-dwelling frogs. The ones marked with an asterisk (*) are from the Western Ghats.
|Scientific Name||Common Name||Distribution||IUCN Status|
|Fejervarya andamanensis||Andaman Wart Frog||South Andaman Island, India. (Andaman Islands)||Least Concern|
|Fejervarya brevipalmata*||Pegu Wart Frog||Endemic to the Western Ghats mountain range in India||Data Deficient|
|Fejervarya cancrivora||Crab-eating Frog||Coastal southern China in Guangxi and Hainan Provinces, Great Nicobar Island in India, most countries in Southeast Asia. Introduced In New Guinea.||Least Concern|
|Fejervarya caperata*||Wrinkled Cricket Frog||Endemic to the Western Ghats mountain range in India (Widespread)||Not Evaluated|
|Fejervarya chilapata||Jaldapara District in West Bengal State, India. (Chilapata Reserve Forest)||Not Evaluated|
|Fejervarya gomantaki*||Goan Fejervarya||Endemic to the Western Ghats mountain range in India particularly Goa in The Northern Western Ghats||Not Evaluated|
|Fejervarya granosa*||Granular Fejervarya||Endemic to the Western Ghats mountain range in India||Not Evaluated|
|Fejervarya greenii||Montane Frog||Central hills of Sri Lanka and Karnataka, India.||Endangered|
|Fejervarya keralensis*||Kerela Warty Frog||Endemic to the Western Ghats mountain range in India (known from the states of Karnataka, Kerela and Tamil Nadu)||Least Concern|
|Fejervarya kudremukhensis*||Kudremukh Cricket Frog||Endemic to the Western Ghats mountain range in India (known from Karnataka)||Not Evaluated|
|Fejervarya modestus*||Moluccas Wart Frog||Endemic to the Western Ghats mountain range in India||Not Evaluated|
|Fejervarya mudduraja*||Mudduraja Cricket Frog||Endemic to the Western Ghats mountain range in India||Not Evaluated|
|Fejervarya murthii*||Murthy’s Frog||Endemic to the Western Ghats mountain range in India||Critically Endangered|
|Fejervarya mysorensis*||Mysore Frog||Endemic to the Western Ghats mountain range in India||Data Deficient|
|Fejervarya nilagirica*||Nilgiris Wart Frog||Endemic to the Western Ghats mountain range in India. (Wayanad in Kerala and the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu)||Endangered|
|Fejervarya nepalensis||Nepal Wart Frog||Nagaland (where it is widely distributed) and West Siang District, Arunachal Pradesh, India. Also present in Nepal and southern and southeastern Bangladesh.||Least Concern|
|Fejervarya nicobariensis||Nicobar Frog||Nicobar Islands, India||Endangered|
|Fejervarya orissaensis||Orissa Frog||Orissa, India.||Least Concern|
|Fejervarya parambikulamana*||Parambikulum Wart Frog||Endemic to the Western Ghats mountain range in India (Palakkad, Kerala)||Data Deficient|
|Fejervarya pierrei||Pierre’s Cricket Frog||Nepal, and southern and southeastern Bangladesh||Least Concern|
|Fejervarya rufescens*||Malabar Wart Frog||Endemic to the Western Ghats mountain range in India (Whole of Malabar Coast)||Least Concern|
|Fejervarya sahyadris*||Minevarya Frog||Endemic to Western Ghats. Restricted to Gundia in Karnataka, and Calicut and adjoining areas in Kerala, India||Endangered|
|Fejervarya sauriceps*||Mysore Wart Frog||Endemic to the Western Ghats mountain range in India||Data Deficient|
|Fejervarya sengupti||Northeastern, India||Not Evaluated|
|Fejervarya teraiensis||Terai Wart Frog||Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura, India. Also known from southern Nepal and Bangladesh||Least Concern|
|Fejervarya syhadrensis*||Southern Cricket Frog||Central northern India and western peninsular India, southern Nepal, eastern Pakistan (from lower Punjab, Sindh) and Bangladesh.||Least Concern|
- How to identify Fejervaryan frogs? Look for the following characteristics:
– Small size (3 – 5 centimeters)
– Colour that is usually drab brownish and dull overall
– Habitat: Usually found on the forest floors, on leaf litters and paddy fields.
– They are active all year round.
– All these frogs will have ‘Fejervaryan Lines’ (Two delicate longitudinal lines on the underside of the sides of the abdomen. The line begins at the groin.)
– The tympanum (disk-like structure behind the eye) is small.
– Toes do not have any pads or dilated discs.
- The Malabar Wart Frog (Fejervarya rufescens) was first described in 1853 by Jerdon. Since then it has gone through major taxonomic changes, from being called Zakerana to being called Fejervarya in 2015.
- This frog is a robust, reddish brown of about 4.5 centimetres. The snout is blunt and the dorsum of the frog has irregular warty skin folds that give it a toad-like appearance.
- In the non-breeding season, it is overall brownish with irregular black markings. Whereas in the breeding season the frog dons a sun-kissed reddish hue overall.
- It also has an inner and outer digging apparatus (a shovel like structure that enables them to dig in the ground) on its hind limbs.
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