Wheat

Frogs give urban backyards the croak of approval

Friday 28 March, 2014
Frogs have adapted well to urbanisation, says Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (CMA) Land & Biodiversity Manager Steve Wilson. 

Frogs have adapted well to urbanisation, says Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (CMA) Land & Biodiversity Manager Steve Wilson. 

“Many people are quite surprised when they discover a frog when digging in the vegie patch or removing leaves and other organic rubbish from the garden,” Mr Wilson said. “Frogs love debris and as long as there is some as semblance of moisture they will live quite happily in it until disturbed." 

Mr Wilson said Victoria had more than 30 species of frogs and many could be found in and around urban centres across the Goulburn Broken Catchment. 

“In Mansfield for example it is common to find the plump Eastern Banjo frog Limnodynastes dumerilii - or  as locals often call them Pobblebonks because of  their distinctive ‘bonk, bonk, bonk’ call,” he said. 

 A good way to identify a Pobblebonk is to look for a pale yellow stripe running from its eye to its arm. 

“Males call to attract females from August through to April, usually after good rain,” he said.  “These guys are burrowing frogs and love a well-maintained vegie patch to find refuge in during the day and to wait in during the cooler months until spring arrives.” 

Spotted Marsh frogs (Limnodynastes tasmaniensis) are another species commonly found in and under garden debris. 

“They are often active at night, when they emerge to feed on small insects found in and around our gardens,” Mr Wilson said. “In really dry times this species has an amazing ability to extract moisture from the soil around it, keeping it hydrated until the rains come.” 

Often seen on house windows chasing insects the Peron’s tree frog (Litoria peronei) is one of the most striking looking frogs to be found in backyards. 

“It’s one of our most variable coloured frogs, being various shades of brown and grey, with flecks of green, and mottled yellow and black thighs, armpits and groin.  This species is attractive and is well camouflaged during the day,” Mr Wilson said. “It’s unusual for having distinctive cross-shaped pupils and a characteristic cackling call, and is well adapted to life in the suburbs, provided there is water available such as a backyard pond and light sources that attract insects such as street or backyard lights.” 

Mr Wilson said frogs were a good indicator of a healthy environment. 

“These guys are valuable urban tenants - they keep our insects down, can provide a natural chorus on a rainy night and don’t take much looking after.  Next time it rains, grab the torch and take the kids for a wander, you never know what might be living in your backyard.” 

For more information on identifying frogs, visit www.gbcma.vic.gov.au or download the iSpyfrog app.