People get excited about the idea of saving endangered species, but all too often, the most sensitive and critically endangered animals go unnoticed. The small, nondescript dusky gopher frog, for example, just doesn’t get the same attention as large, charismatic animals like tigers and elephants.
While they may not be particularly eye-catching, these little frogs are amazing. Since they’re very sensitive to habitat destruction and pollution, they’re considered an indicator species— a sign of whether an ecosystem is healthy. And they have an adorable behavior: when they see a predator, they use their front legs to cover their faces until the danger passes. (Awww! 🥰)
Dusky gopher frogs were last seen in Tennessee decades ago, when they were spotted twice in a wetland in Tullahoma. As pollution and development ravaged their habitat, their numbers eventually plummeted to only about a hundred individuals, living in two small ponds in Mississippi. Thankfully, several organizations are working to help the dusky gopher frog recover and eventually return to its native habitats in other area. Who knows? Maybe this rare animal will be back in Tennessee one day.