The adult dusky gopher frog feeds on a variety of insects and other prey, including beetles, grasshoppers, spiders and worms. Its large mouth probably also enables it to eat larger prey items, such as other frogs and toads (2) (3). In contrast to the adults, the tadpoles of this species feed on plant matter (1) (6). When threatened by a predator, the adult dusky gopher frog defends itself by inflating the body, covering its eyes with its front feet, and secreting a pungent, bitter, milky liquid from the prominent warts on its back (2) (3) (6).
Glen’s Pond typically holds water from December or January until June or August (9), with the dusky gopher frog usually breeding there between December and April. However, heavy rains from tropical storms or hurricanes may stimulate earlier breeding, in late summer or autumn (2) (3) (6) (10). Male dusky gopher frogs usually arrive at the breeding pond before the females, setting up and defending territories, and calling to attract a mate (2) (3).
The female dusky gopher frog usually lays between 500 and 3,000 eggs, attaching them to aquatic vegetation, floating wooden debris or small trees (2) (3). The tadpoles take between 81 and 179 days to develop, depending on the water temperature (2) (3) (10), and the size at which metamorphosis occurs can vary widely between years (2). The immature frogs, known as ‘metamorphs’, usually emerge from the pond between May and July, and leave along specific migratory pathways (2). After breeding, the mature adults also move away from the pond, returning to their underground retreats (11). Male dusky gopher frogs reach maturity at about 6 to 8 months old, but females do not mature until about 24 to 36 months old (9).
This species usually lives for less than seven years (6) (9). The breeding success of the dusky gopher frog varies greatly between years, but is often low due to the breeding pond drying up before the tadpoles have time to fully develop (10).