It’s a frog’s life: World Frog Day heralds bumper season for local frogs

This World Frog Day (Friday March 20) it’s worth celebrating a bumper spring and summer for frogs in the Central West and Northern Tablelands.

Striped burrowing frog (Litoria alboguttata)

Doctor Joanne Ocock, Project Officer with the National Parks and Wildlife Service said native frogs have a range of strategies to deal with dry and wet cycles.

“All the frogs in our area need water to lay eggs and allow tadpoles to develop into new frogs, but not all have the same strategy for surviving when the water starts to dry up.

“There is not one secret formula for surviving as a frog in the Central West and North West Plains, it is inevitable that the dry will happen and they all approach it in different ways.

“Frogs like the barking marsh frog or salmon-striped frog, lose water through their skin quickly so need to stay close to damp areas. They survive dry times by sheltering near remaining waterholes or creeks, down muddy cracks and in the middle of wetland reeds and rushes.

“Tree frogs are the ones people see more often around the house, like the Peron’s tree frog or green tree frog. These frogs have a slightly different skin type so don’t lose water as easily. They also make sure to shelter in places with low wind exposure and high humidity, like a drainpipe. This means they can roam further from water and survive for long periods until the rains come again.

“But the most extreme strategy is employed by the frogs who burrow underground and make a cocoon from layers of their own skin!

“Frogs like the water-holding frog and striped burrowing frog, then wait out the dry for up to two years in a type of hibernation called aestivation when all bodily functions virtually shut down. Once they sense the rains have returned, the frog will eat the cocoon and dig its way back out, ready to soak up some water have a feed and get back to business. Until it dries out again.

“The Central West and North West Plains are somewhat unique in the high numbers of each type of frog occurring here. This is due to the range of habitats from creeks and streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands and temporarily flooded depressions, providing perfect habitat for all sorts of frogs.

“Get out and explore your local national park. Stop and listen for frogs, especially at dusk. You’ll hear a different chorus from those at your back window and will start to appreciate the variety of frogs in your local area,” Dr Ocock said.

Not quite sure what you are hearing? The Australian Museum runs a fantastic identification app https://www.frogid.net.au/

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