Backyard Buddies
Southern Brown Tree Frog

Photo: Sun of Erat

Southern Brown Tree Frog

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If you live in southern Australia, listen out for a croaky visitor in your garden or local park. Southern Brown Tree Frogs are common guests to suburban gardens, particularly in Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Look and listen out for these frogs calling from under logs, in low growing plants, amongst leaf litter, and near waterways.

As this is a tree frog, it is a great climber and jumper. Unlike most frogs, the Southern Brown Tree Frog can live away from water in drier area. Only growing up to 4.5 cm in length, this is a tiny little frog.

Southern Brown Tree Frogs are bug-eating ninjas that can leap and catch insects in mid-flight. They feed on mosquitoes, flies, and moths.

Not all of these frogs are brown. Despite being called Southern Brown Tree Frogs, they can come in a variety of different colours, including orange, pale fawn or cream and sometimes even green. The green Southern Brown Tree Frogs are usually found in western Victoria and South Australia.

Southern Brown Tree Frogs have a wide brown band that starts from between their eyes and runs down their back. They have a white or pale yellow belly and mating male Southern Brown Tree Frogs often have a light brown vocal sac.

The peak period for mating for Southern Brown Tree Frogs is late winter to early spring, though Southern Brown Tree Frogs can mate at any time of year when there is enough food and water.

When they're ready to mate these frogs congregate at ponds, creeks, waterholes, farm dams and waterways. Males call out 'Creeeeeeee creee creee creee creee' most of the year round. The first 'cree' is the longest and 4 to 14 quick 'crees' follow it. A great time to listen out for these frogs is after heavy rains. When a female hears a call that she likes, she will enter the still, shallow water with her mate. She lays up to 700 eggs in jelly clumps of about 10-15 eggs, and attaches these to underwater grasses, sticks and plants growing near the water's surface so they don't flow away.

Four to six days later, the eggs hatch into little tadpoles. These can grow to 2 to 4.5 cm in length. These tadpoles are a pale golden-yellow to dark grey-colour with clear looking fins. They are fast swimmers and will dash away when disturbed.

You might see some eggs or tadpoles in the still water of a pond, dam, lake, streamside pool or even in a flooded roadside ditch.

Did you know?

You may see this frog attached to your window pane at night, hunting for flying insects that are drawn to your lights.

Tip 

Avoid taking tadpoles you find outdoors or handling wild frogs. By doing so you could be spreading Amphibian Chytrid Fungus between different frogs. This disease makes frogs sick and leads to declines in frog populations. To be a buddy to frogs, why not create a frog pond in your backyard and let frogs come and find it for themselves.

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Photo: OEH