Strange animal profile: The Purple Frog

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The Purple Frog, scientific name asikabatrachus sahyadrensis, also known as the Indian Purple Frog, the Pignose Frog, and the Doughnut Frog, was first discovered in 2003. Despite it's recent discovery, the species is often described as a living fossil, and is thought to have been around at the same time as the dinosaurs.

The purple frog is a species of large burrowing frogs that, on average, reach a size of about 7 cm. They get their common name from the dark purple color of their skin. Their bodies are rounded and somewhat bloated looking. They have splayed out arms and legs, and relatively small heads with protruding snouts. These unusual frogs can make a sound that is described as sounding like a chicken (see video below).

These unique amphibians spend most of their lives underground, surfacing for only about 2 weeks each year during the monsoon season. For most of the year, Purple Frogs live below ground in borrows that they dig themselves. When it finally does leave it's burrow, it's usually to breed. They lay their eggs in ponds, ditches, and streams. Purple Frog tadpoles progress into adulthood in the same manner as most other frogs.

Purple Frogs are thought to dine mainly on termites and other small prey items, as it's narrow mouth prevents it from catching larger prey. Purple Frogs cannot borrow into hard ground, and so thus require damp loose soil to live in.

Purple Frogs where discovered in India, and is thought to survive only in two locations in India. It may in fact have a wider range that has not yet been discovered. The Purple Frog is considered to be rare and only 135 individual frogs have been observed in the wild, only 3 of which where females. The species population is unfortunately thought to be in decline and is listed as Endangered. Habitat loss mainly due to clearing land for cultivation is thought to be the main threat to this species.

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