White’s tree frog

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Profile

The White’s tree frog is a medium-sized frog living in Indonesia and northern Australia. Although the individual in the picture above is green, not all of these frogs are that color. Some can be purplish, white, or even blue in color. From what people who own these frogs have said, it seems that high humidity and low temperature makes their color darker and browner, while low humidity and high temperature makes it brighter and bluer. Their underside is always a gray or white color. Males have a gray throat while females are white in this area. The frog shown above is therefore probably a female. White’s tree frogs are different from most other tree frogs in that they have horizontal pupils instead of vertical pupils.

They can also be distinguished from other frogs by the ridge that can be seen over their eardrums. This ridge can be an indicator of the frog’s health. If the ridge is hard to see, the frog is probably being underfed. If it is extremely large, the frog is probably too fat. These frogs are one of the few frog species that can become clinically obese.

In the wild, these creatures are quite tame and do not have much fear of humans. White’s tree frogs are not specifically nocturnal or diurnal as they can be active both at night and in the daytime. Although not always green, these frogs are sometimes also called the Australian green tree frog. In Australia they are often simply called green tree frogs. Another name for these animals is the dumpy tree frog, referring to its fat appearance.

Size

Female dumpy tree frogs are normally larger than males. Adults in general can range from three to four and a half inches (7 to 11.5 cm) in length.  Males are normally closer to the three inch (7 cm) side of those measurements.

Diet

In the wild, these frogs eat mainly insects, including moths, locusts, and cockroaches. Occasionally they may be able to catch a small lizard, frog, or even a rat! The National Zoo feeds their White’s tree frogs crickets and cockroaches three times a week. It is recommended that pet White’s tree frogs are fed two to three times per week on bugs such as crickets, earthworms, and caterpillars.

Habitat

These tree frogs can live in both dry and wet habitats. Although they would rather live in a moist environment, their skin can adapt to drier places. Normally, these frogs do not actually live near constant water sources. Instead they live in the trees and survive on rain water collected in leaves, cup-shaped plants, and tree crevices. Because it rains almost daily in the forests where these frogs live, they have almost constant access to water. Occasionally, some of these frogs have been found living in or near human habitations.

Hibernation

Some Australian green tree frogs do not live in rain forests. These individuals must take refuge when the dry season comes. In order to survive, they burrow in the ground and cover themselves with a cocoon of mucous and skin to keep moist.

Status and threats

The IUCN Redlist ranks this species as ‘Least Concern.’ Some of the natural predators of the White’s tree frog include snakes, lizards, and birds. Dogs and cats, which were introduced to this frog’s range by humans, are also predators of this amphibian.

Use to humans

White’s tree frogs are sometimes used in modern medicine. Their skin has been found to produce several anti-bacterial and anti-viral substances. Scientists have also find that these frogs produce a substance that can be used to treat high blood pressure in humans.

Reproduction and young

Australian green tree frog breeding occurs during the summer rainy season. Typically the pairs will breed in moist places such as drainage systems and water tanks. Males first deposit a cloud of sperm in the water. Females will then expel their eggs (up to 3,000 of them) forcefully out of their body. They apply so much force that the eggs may travel up to 6 feet (2 m) through the water and through the cloud of sperm! During mating season, males develop an interesting extra body feature. They develop a black pad on their thumbs that helps them grip onto the female while she finds a suitable place for laying her eggs. After being released, the eggs hatch within three days. In good conditions, metamorphosis can occur in as little as two weeks! It takes about two years for these frogs to reach maturity. They live on average 16 years, but one individual was recorded living for 21 years.

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Sources:

Photo credits:

  • White’s tree frog – Public Domain
  • White’s tree frog range map – Rbrausse
  • Mystery animal – Public Domain
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