Mystery Frog in my Garden

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Mindy
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Mystery Frog in my Garden

Postby Mindy » Sat Jun 02, 2007 11:10 pm

I have noticed a particular frog that keeps appearing in my backyard and am curious about what species it might be so that I can start to put in some things in my garden to make him more at home.

Unfortunately I am unable to get a picture or recording, as I’m very new to this frog watching game, but the internet has been useless in aiding me so I will try and describe it as best I can for the knowledgable minds here on frogs.org.

He is a stark white/cream in colour with no visible markings near the eye, groin or on the inside of the thighs (as far as I can tell, since I have been cautious not to disturb him too much to get a look at his underbelly for fear of hurting him). His eye has a horizontal pupil however and is orange in colour. The pads on his feet seem to be broader then his toes though.

And an interesting thing, I thought his body was rather wide but when I tried to gently nudge him with a piece of bark to see more of his markings, he startled and immediately puffed up to certainly three times his width and height on either side of the torso. The head and such stayed the same though. I watched him for a long moment too and though the bumps on his skin seemed a little bit more pronounced, he did not appear to secrete anything.

It is about 45mm in length and when I listen carefully it sound like it’s making a faint clicking/ticking sound.

He lives in the retaining wall in our garden either side of three concrete steps up to our clothes line. The garden beds are heavily mulched in bark chunks and he only comes out at night to my knowledge. In the older section of the housing estate where we are located marshes and slight wetlands surround us where we are on a hill, less than 500meters away through two streets out houses.

I at first thought it was a Whistling Tree Frog, but in the absence of the dark markings along the eye region I now have no idea whatsoever and I have never heard of a frog puffing up like that before when threatened. Toads, yes, but not frogs?

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Evan
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Postby Evan » Sun Jun 03, 2007 12:48 am

I will go with either Peron's Tree Frog (Litoria peronii) or Tyler's Tree Frog (Litoria tyleri). They are both common in Newcastle. In fact, Newcastle is one of the few places I know where Tyler's is more common than Peron's. The uni is full of them.

Most photos will have them dark, but they can turn a very light cream colour. It usually occurs when they are a little stressed.

Puffing up is a normal behaviour in frogs. You don't need to worry much about hurting them. Make sure you have clean hands (rinse them, don't use soap), but they can withstand you holding them and such. A photo is most neccesary for positive ID, especially telling the difference between the two species I have suggested.

Do you live in suburban Newcastle, or are you out in the country? If you are in the suburbs, are you near Hexham or Shortland wetlands?

Thanks,

Evan

Mindy
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Postby Mindy » Sun Jun 03, 2007 4:03 pm

I checked both the links you gave me and though does look like them, he has none of the characteristic markings on the back of the thighs or groin as mentioned, He is completely white all over, very strange.

I am going to try and get a flashlight and a camera and have my parents help me tonight. if I can pick him up and take some photos of his underside and such I'll post them here to help more.

And you say they turn that colour if they're stressed? That worries me, I want to make him more comfortable in my garden and hopefully encourage his species to breed, not hurt them!

My location is Raymond Terrace, so I am closer to the Hexham wetlands, but the marsh area mentioned is nothing as developed as that area, more boggy flatlands.

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GrantW
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Postby GrantW » Sun Jun 03, 2007 6:41 pm

I would say Litoria dentata based on that description http://frogs.org.au/frogs/species/Litoria/dentata/

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Postby abitfishy » Sun Jun 03, 2007 7:20 pm

If it is already in your garden, you probably don't actually have to do anything to make it more comfortable.....

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GTR-90D
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Postby GTR-90D » Mon Jun 04, 2007 10:25 pm

WHen you spot it at night his pupils would have dilated to see better. WHen you shine the torch in its face. Ouch I know it is cruel we do it to our friends and family too it will shrink smaller. In Peron's Tree frogs their eyes is like a crosshair. A plus symbol with a dark circle( or yo ucan say a black bulls eye). Tylers tree frog are similiar but does not have the target.

Peron's Have Emerald green spots or flecks all over its back. Very green, like jade green only a very good photo with not a lot of flash can see its true colours.

They change colours for day and night. I have noticed that during the day when in coverage they are more of a white/cream colour to blend with the day. At night it turns a deeper to dark brown to blend in with the night, thats when to can see the emerald flecks.

But you said the thighs have no markings, but the peron's tree frog has yellow and black stripes.

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Evan
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Postby Evan » Mon Jun 04, 2007 10:35 pm

Yeah, if they have no thigh markings then I doubt they are Peron's or Tyler's. I would go with Grant's suggestion until a photo can prove otherwise. Is it still out and about? How did you go finding and photographing it the other night?

Evan

Mindy
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Postby Mindy » Mon Jun 04, 2007 10:56 pm

Well, I’ve been studying the links everyone has been sending me and he was out again last night. Last night he wasn’t white though, but a pale mustard/olive colour. Still no marking I can see though, but I got up the courage to touch him and saw the inside of his thigh which was something like a glossy white/fluro green or yellow, it didn’t really look like colour but was iridescent.

He didn’t like the flashlight on him at all though, so I didn’t shine it on him for more then a few seconds. I wet my hands thoroughly and stroked his back very gently and he didn't puff up hardly at all. But since he’s not out again tonight, I’m concerned I might have hurt him or burnt him with the flash light. So I hope he comes back tomorrow.

But this new development in his colouring makes me think he looks a lot like the Litoria dentata, the Bleating Tree Frog, because of the shape of his head and thickness of the body also. The other frogs look too small and skinny to be him.

I noticed I keep calling it a ‘him’ too! -lol- Just how do you sex a frog, anyway?

Regardless, I am working on procuring a good camera I can get some nice shots with and then get them printed so I can scan them onto my comp, as I don’t have a digital camera and can’t afford one right now.

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Evan
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Postby Evan » Tue Jun 05, 2007 12:47 am

You don't need to worry about hurting him. It sounds like you are being very careful, and I very much doubt you have hurt him. Burning with a torch is not possible, these guys live in Australia and can take >40 degrees!

Litoria dentata is the smallest (and skinniest) of the frogs which have been suggested.

It is hard to sex frogs at this time of the year. During the breeding season, the males are the only ones which call, and many have a nuptial pad on their thumb which the females don't. It is basically a black patch which helps them grip to the female.

Thanks,

Evan

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GrantW
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Postby GrantW » Tue Jun 05, 2007 7:39 am

Male frogs will also have a darker coloured throat compared to the rest of the body. Lit. dentata can reach about the size of a perons and they are fairly similar in body shape. If the frog is a bit then it could mean it is a female (and gravid) but I dunno how likely it would be that it is gravid at this time of year.

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Postby Mindy » Tue Jul 24, 2007 8:44 pm

Well, finally, I have my photos back!

The first two are of his usual colour: this is his cream with iradescent underbelly colouring and I tried to get a ruler in there too so you could get an idea of his size.

The second is this really dark dark reddish brown with a white/yellow underbelly he goes when it rains.

A friend has a theory he might be trying to blend in with the concrete, hence the darker colour when it rains as the concrete darkens too?

Sorry about the photo quality. These were taken with a disposable camera and most came out too blurred. These were sadly the best of the lot. Only advice I can offer is seeing them in the smaller version might clear them up a little...

If these are too bad to get an ID out of, I understand and will try to borrow a digital camera off a friend.

P.S- Oh, and I checked out his eyes. No crosshair, they seem the basic orange/amber circular iris with typical round black pupil in the middle. Sorry the eyes hardly came out at all in photos.
Attachments
scan0003.jpg
The darker brown colouring taken in a heavy rainstorm.
scan0002.jpg
His white/cream colour from the front with blurred ruler beside him.
scan0001.jpg
This is his white/cream colour from behind.
Last edited by Mindy on Tue Jul 24, 2007 8:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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GrantW
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Postby GrantW » Tue Jul 24, 2007 8:47 pm

The quality is very bad, sorry, but it looks like a very fat perons tree frog or denata, u can see toe pads in the second pic, but from those pics it is not possible to tell which species for sure, any chance of getting a better photo? I think its is probably more likely to be dentata, althought I have seen both species in the first colour phase, only dentata get be that dark reddy brown colour

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Aaron
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Postby Aaron » Tue Jul 24, 2007 10:05 pm

Hey I think I will go with the Bleating Tree Frog (Litoria dentata) based on general shape, colour, yellow throat and the narrowness of the head compared to the rest of the body.

Cheers

Aaron


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