White's Tree Frog
Litoria caerulea (White, 1790)

Family: Hylidae - Tree Frogs

Order: Anura - Frogs

Class: Amphibia

Phylum: Chordata - Vertebrates

Kingdom: Animalia

Red List status: Least Concern

White's tree frog, calling male. Townsville, Queensland, Australia

Adult length: 100 mm

Tadpole length: 63 mm

RANGE

Northern New Guinea (though more common in the south of the island) to southern New South Wales, Australia. In New Guinea, the species' range extends into Indonesia, while the eastern range encompasses much of northern and eastern Australia, including the entirety of Queensland and most of New South Wales. This frog occurs in all mainland states except Victoria, but in Western Australia it occurs no further south than the Kimberleys. It is absent from the southwestern Northern Territory and from most of South Australia.

Range           Description            Habitat            Behaviour            Biology            References

Other common names: Green tree frog, dumpy tree frog

 

 

DESCRIPTION
 

Adult: The green tree frog, as the species is known locally, is Australia's most readily-recognised native frog. It is among the country's larger arboreal species and with a strongly oval, robust body (though slender in subadults) and a blunt snout. The smooth dorsal surface is typically a shade of green, but may be olive and may darken in some specimens at night. The ventral surface is white and is coarsely granular. The most distinctive feature is a thick, glandular supratympanic fold. The tympanum itself is prominent but with its upper rim partially obscured by the skin fold. The skin is typically patternless, but may be flecked with large white spots along the flanks or with a white stripe from the eye to the arm. The toe discs are rounded and enlarged. The toes are three-quarters webbed and the fingers one-quarter webbed. Maxillary teeth are present, and vomerine teeth are located between the choanae.

Subadult green tree frog.

 

View of White's tree frog showing the distinctive supratympanic fold.

Tadpole: Olive to dark brown, with a strongly arched dorsal fin and commonly a stripe along the side of the tail. Tadpoles attain the adult colouration shortly before the emergence of the forelimbs.
 

Eggs: Dark brown, laid in a mass of up to 4,000 that settles to the bottom of the water column.

 

Call: A deep, stereotypical slow "croak", typically repeated. Males call from within retreat sites or from vegetation above or near water bodies.

 

 

 

Similar species: Confusion is possible with the white-lipped tree frog (L. infrafrenata), another large species which is common in disturbed areas in tropical Australia and New Guinea. In this species, the supratympanic fold is less fleshy, and a white line is invariably present running along the lower lip (absent in L. caerulea). The white-lipped tree frog and related New Guinean forms also possess white dermal fringes along the sides of the arms and legs, which are absent in White's tree frog. L. infrafrenata also has longer limbs and a more slender profile, with a more pointed snout. In the Kimberley region, this species may be confused with L. splendida; this species, however, possesses large glands on top of the head (normally absent in White's tree frog), and bright orange colouration on the limbs, groin and thigh (the rear of the thigh is dark orange in L. caerulea). L. cavernicola resembles a subadult green tree frog, but has a less pronounced skin fold and the upper rim of the tympanum is distinct. The similar centralian frog (L. gilleni) has a distinctive pattern of small, whitish spots and blotches over the upper surface of the body, and a more angular snout.

 

 

HABITAT

Call recording Jean-Marc Hero. Used with permission.

Naturally an inhabitant of lowland forest and swamp, but now commonly associated with human-altered habitats including plantations, agricultural land and urban settings, where it is often encountered sheltering in rooms or gardens. The species is not found in dense rainforest, and prefers open woodland habitats.

Reproductive habitat: Swamps, garden ponds, flooded grassland and temporary pools.

Elevation: 0-200 m in New Guinea.

 

BEHAVIOUR

Predominantly arboreal, commonly being found in trees along streams. Animals often wait near artificial lighting to ambush insect prey. The species is most active at night in spring and summer (the wet season, in tropical regions).

 

BIOLOGY

Life cycle: Development from egg to metamorph typically takes around six weeks.

 

REFERENCES

 

Wildlife of Tropical Queensland, The Queensland Museum 2000

Cogger, H. G. (2000) Reptiles & Amphibians of Australia, 6th Edition. Ralph Curtis Publishing: 808 pp

Hero, J-M., Richards, S., Retallick, R., Horner, P., Clarke, J. & Meyer, E. (2004). Litoria caerulea. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN 2008 Red List of Threatened Species

Menzies, J. (2006) The Frogs of New Guinea and The Solomon Islands. Pensoft, Bulgaria: 346pp

Robinson, M. (1993) A Field Guide to Frogs of Australia, Reed New Holland

Litoria caerulea, calling male. Townsville, Queensland, Australia. Note the dull orange colouration of the rear thigh.