Frogs of Victoria > Key guide to Victorian frogs > Myobatrachidae

Family Myobatrachidae

These frogs are known as the Southern Frogs and are sometimes placed in the Leptodactylidae family, a family of frogs found in both South and Central America. (This is a matter of some controversy among herpetologists). In Australia, they are represented by over 100 species in 21 genera.

The family Myobatrachidae is an extremely variable one and members of this family have some of the world's most unusual frog life cycles. Some lay eggs on land, waiting for rains to flood the area at which time the tadpoles hatch. The Sandhill Frog gains its water from damp sand and lays eggs which hatch into fully formed frogs. Perhaps most spectacularly, the Gastric Brooding Frog, an entirely aquatic frog, swallows its eggs to incubate them in its stomach and vomits forth fully formed froglets.

The family Myobatrachidae is represented in Victoria by 22 species in 10 genera, ranging from the tiny Sloane's Froglet, Crinia sloanei, at little over 20mm, to the Great Bullfrog, Limnodynastes interioris, and the Great Burrowing Frog, Helioporus australiacus, at up to 100mm.

The life cycles and habits of Victoria's Myobatrachids are more diverse than those of the hylids. Many are burrowers, some are swamp dwellers, and one lives only above the snow-line.

Identifying Myobatrachidae species

Question 1

Choice A Large and well developed parotoid glands present.

Choice B Parotoid glands absent or indistinct.

Question 2

Choice A Metatarsal tubercle absent.

Choice B Both inner and outer metatarsal tubercles present.

Question 3

Choice A Pupils horizontal.

Choice B Pupils vertical.

NOTE: When having trouble seeing the shape of a frog's pupil, shining a light at it for about a minute will cause the pupil to shrink and reveal its true shape.

Question 4

Choice A Tympanum (ear) indistinct. A prominent black metatarsal tubercle.

Choice B Tympanum (ear) distinct. Metatarsal tubercle unpigmented.

Question 5

Choice A Toes well webbed.

Choice B Toes without, or with only a trace of, webbing.

Question 6

Choice A Belly coarsely marbled in black and white. Upper limbs and rear of body with bright or dull orange or yellow patches. Frogs inclined to walk rather than jump.

Choice B Belly either: [1] mottled or flecked with dark pigments on white or light grey; [2] with little or nor markings; [3] orange or yellow often mottled with darker pigment; or [4] brown with large lighter spots.

Question 7

Choice A Belly light brown to chocolate with large white, cream, or light brown spots. Bright red patches in groin or on thighs. A fine mid-dorsal stripe present.

Choice B Belly either without large spots or with large black spots on a light background. Pink patches may be present but if so then mid-dorsal stripe is absent.

Question 8

Choice A Belly either finely or coarsely granular, white, muddy white, or grey, peppered or mottled with darker pigment.

Choice B Belly smooth.

Question 9

Choice A Toes without webbing. Belly usually pink marbled with darker pigment on thighs. Metatarsal tubercles absent or indistinct. Body length up to 35mm.

Choice B Toes with or without webbing. No pink and black marbling present on thighs. Metatarsal tubercles prominent. Body length up to 100mm.

photography this page by
Ian Cust (Q1A,Q2B,Q3A,Q3B,Q4A,Q4B,Q9A,Q9B),
and Peter Robertson (Q6A,Q8A).

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