For the Kids

Shoemaker Frog (Neobatrachus sutor)

What does it look like?

Shoemaker frog
Shoemaker frog distribution map
The shoemaker frog is a round, short-legged frog with a smooth, white belly and shiny golden back marked with brown or black blotches. Its toes are fully webbed. Male frogs grow to 35–42 mm and are much smaller than the females, which can grow up to 51 mm long.

Why the weird name?

The shoemaker frog is so called because the male’s call sounds like a shoemaker tapping nails into a shoe. (The frog’s scientific name, sutor, is Latin for ‘shoemaker’.) Male frogs call to attract females and repel other males from their territory.

What does a shoemaker frog sound like?
Click here to find out!

Where does it live?

The shoemaker frog burrows underground to avoid heat and drought. It forms a protective cocoon over its body to reduce water loss and goes into a state of inactivity, called estivation, until conditions improve. Estivation is a bit like hibernation, but the frog goes into a lighter sleep. It may spend many months – even years – under the earth, only coming to the surface after summer rains to breed. Low-lying areas of clay or loamy soil that get filled with water after heavy rain make good habitat for this species. The frogs can be found in the low-lying areas east and north of Hamelin Pool and north to the Wooramel River, snapping up insects in the night.

How does it breed?

The shoemaker frog lays its eggs in still water and fertilises them externally. Tadpoles make a juicy snack for many predators, so each adult female produces up to 1,000 eggs, laid in long strings, to improve the species’ chances of survival. The tadpoles develop into adults in around 40 days, before the water seeps away or evaporates.

Any threats to its survival?

Since the shoemaker frog population appears to be stable, it does not have a special conservation status. However, global warming and other climate changes may harm this frog. You can make life a little easier for them by protecting their habitat. Tadpoles would prefer to be left in their watery world: please respect them, not collect them. For more information about Western Australian wildlife check out the WA Museum Fauna Base website.

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