DCSIMG


Search

White's Tree Frog

Taxonomy

Order: Anura
Family: Hylidae
Genus/species: Litoria caerulea

Description

This tree frog has many unique features that set it apart from other tree frogs. It is a rather large tree frog, ranging in length from three to 4.5 inches (7 to 11.5 cm). Females are usually slightly bigger than the males.

The color of these frogs ranges from light blue to emerald green or almost gray dorsally. As with many tree frogs, this species is capable of some color change. The ventral surface is a milky white and rough in texture.

The males have a grayish wrinkled vocal sac underneath their throat region. The females have a white throat. These frogs have enormous toe pads with partial webbing between fingers and almost complete webbing between toes.

Their eyes have horizontal pupils, where most tree frogs have vertical pupils. The fatty ridge over the eye is a distinct White’s tree frog trait. As an adaptation to arid areas they secrete a waxy covering over their skin that helps retain water.

These frogs are very tame in nature and have little fear of humans. They can be active in day or night. The male calls year round from high positions in the trees. When threatened they emit an ear-piercing distress call. During the dry season they cover themselves in a cocoon of sloughed epidermis and mucus and burrow to keep moist. During the summer rainy season they feast for a few days then start to breed.

Distribution and Habitat

They are found in northern and eastern Australia, the islands in Torres Straits, New Guinea, and have been introduced to New Zealand.

These tree frogs have adapted to seasonally dry or wet habitats. They prefer moist forested environments, but have skin that can adjust to drier situations.

White's tree frogs do not typically live in or near water, but instead live in trees. Rain collects on leaves, in cup-shaped plants, and in crevices in tree trunks, giving the frogs access to water. These places are replenished with water from the almost daily rains, and the frogs always have a source of water to keep themselves moist.

White's tree frogs are not found strictly in tropical rainforests. In other forests, these frogs avoid desiccation in the dry season by taking refuge in tree hollows or covering themselves in a cocoon, as described above.

Diet in the Wild

They eat mainly insects such as moths, locusts, and roaches.

Zoo Diet

They are fed crickets and cockroaches three times a week.

Reproduction

White's tree frogs reach sexual maturity in their second year. Breeding takes place in the summer rainy season. It often takes place in very moist places, such as drainage systems, water tanks, or grassy semi-permanent water systems.

The female expels her eggs with such a force that they go through the deposited sperm cloud and stop up to 1.5 feet (.5 m) away. A clutch can contain from 150 to 300 eggs. Once fertilized, the eggs sink to the bottom substrate. Hatching begins about 28 to 36 hours after laying. Metamorphosis can occur in two to three weeks in good conditions.

Life Span

The average life span is about 16 years, but one is recorded to have lived 21 years in captivity.

Status

Neither threatened nor endangered, this species is reportedly still common in parts of its natural range.

Fun Facts

The waxy blue-green color and the rolling skin folds of fatty material have earned the White’s tree frog the nickname “dumpy tree frog.”

Some scientists believe that these amazing animals can control how much water is evaporated through the skin, and thus have ability to control their body temperature. This frog's adaptability allows it to share suburban and agricultural areas with humans. They have been found in lavatories, water tanks, and city reservoirs.

During the hot summer months they may appear on the verandas of people's homes, or actually enter people's homes, while looking for moisture.

In 1999, a Zoo pathologist published his discovery of a then- mysterious infection that was afflicting and eventually killing poison arrow frogs and White's tree frogs. Through his efforts, cutaneous chytridiomycosis was documented for the first time as a vertebrate parasite.

The veterinarians along with keepers and pathologists also developed a treatment for the chytrids. The same antifungal that is used to kill athletes’ foot in humans can be used with the frogs and toads.

Source of Information

All or part of this information was provided by the Animal Diversity Web and Museum of Zoology of the University of Michigan.
It appears here with their permission. The original author of this information was Tami Bruin.

For more information, including references, see the Animal Diversity Web account for this species, here:
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/ site/ accounts/ information/ Litoria_caerulea.html.