Backyard Buddies
Western Banjo Frog

Photo: Aussie Oc

Western Banjo Frog

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When winter chills are gripping the land, Western Banjo Frogs are getting set to call all through the night in south-western Australia.

If you're in Perth, listen for their Banjo -like calls coming from the backyard, especially if you've got a pond or are close to a wetland or waterway.

Around your area, you may hear a single explosive 'bonk' ring out from a hidden spot in the dense undergrowth at edge of a stream, lake or other body of water - almost any water will do. These calls can carry quite a distance, and they need to. The male begins calling as early as May for northern Banjo frogs, and from June-August in and around Perth.

During the warmer months, these frogs burrow underground to keep cool and moist. During winter they hide in densely growing shrubs at the water's edge to keep safe from predators. You're more likely to hear their call than you are to catch a glimpse of them. 

If you are lucky enough to spot a Banjo frog as it moves in the undergrowth, you will be able to recognise it from a number of distinct markings. They can be pale brown to dark chocolate with areas of deep green or olive. They also have big glands that look like lumps on their back legs.

When they are ready to mate, the male and female will search for a spot hidden by overhanging leaves and plants. The female beats the surface of the still or slowly flowing water as she lays her eggs into a floating, foamy raft-like structure, and the male fertilises them.

When the eggs hatch, the tadpoles fall through the foam and into the water below. They can be up to 6.5 cm long. Banjo frog tadpoles develop very slowly, and start to turn into froglets from early summer through to April.

Avoid touching frogs you see around your area or moving them to different ponds, as this could spread diseases between different groups of frogs.

To encourage frogs or other animals in your backyard, put out a container in the garden and let it fill with rainwater. Almost anything will do - even an old paddle pool.

Did you know?

Western Banjo Frogs live in the southwest and adjacent arid zone in Western Australia. They can live in forests, swamps, grasslands and the wheatbelt.

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Photo: OEH