Water-holding Frog

Cyclorana platycephala (Gunther 1873)

Species Info Card | Updated 4 years ago

A large robust frog with a flattened appearance. The eyes are perched on top of a depressed head (where the species name comes from), the mouth is large, limbs are short and there is extensive webbing between the toes. Colouration ranges from pale grey to dark olive brown to green. Males to 5 cm; females to 7 cm.

Breeding Biology

Responds to cyclonic rains in summer and breeds in temporary water bodies. Females lay large masses containing up to 500 eggs. Large tadpoles (up to 8 cm) and sizes at metamorphosis (3.5 cm).


Widely distributed across many habitat types. Probably a top predator of other frog species that breed in temporary or permanent arid water bodies.


After the Greek roots of platy meaning 'flat' and cephalos meaning 'head', hence 'flat-headed'.


The placement of the eyes on top of the head and the extensive webbing between the toes areindicative of a highly aquatic lifestyle. It can form a 'cacoon' by progressively shedding its skin in its burrow, and can then hibernate for months until rains come. The large body size and mouth suggests it feeds on other frogs, possibly frogs breeding in the temporary ponds it tends to inhabit.

Distribution map for Water-holding Frog

Arid zone of WA. Also occurs in arid regions of NT, SA, QLD and NSW.

A long drawn-out 'maaaaw-w-w-w...'