White's Tree Frog


ORDER: Anura

FAMILY: Hylidae

GENUS: Litoria

SPECIES: caerulea

DESCRIPTION:
Average 4 inches (10 cm) in length, but females have been known to grow as long as 5 1/2 inches. The Australian White's have the ability to change color from a dark brown to a blue green. The Indonesian White's is somewhat larger and green. Ventral surface is a milky white and rough in texture. The eye has a horizontal pupil, whereas other hylids have a vertical pupil. They have long limbs and large toe pads. Males are more slender than females and have a grayish wrinkled vocal sac underneath the throat region. Croaks and has a deep call. Males usually call from tree tops, but during the breeding season may call from rocks situated near water.

GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
Northeast Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia, and the Torres Straits. Generally found in forested areas near a water source. Habitat can range from moist tropical rain forests to much dryer temperate forests of Australia. During dry spells may be found around human habitations looking for water and food.

DIET:
Insects, grubs, mealworms. Voracious eaters

LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
They are arboreal and nocturnal, though not exclusively. They will forage all night and will eat anything they can catch and fit into their mouths. At the age of one year, the males begin calling and mating. During the mating season (November to February), males grow a black pad on their thumb to help in gripping the females during amplexus (the mount-from-behind embrace), which can last for days while the female lays her eggs. In still water 200 to 2000 eggs are expelled into a cloud of sperm. The clump of eggs sinks to the bottom of whatever water system they are in. The eggs take about one to three days to hatch and metamorphosis can occur in two to three weeks (some sources say six weeks) under good conditions. They can live up to 20 years in captivity with life span in the wild generally much shorter due to heavy predation.

SPECIAL ADAPTATIONS:
Feet are equipped with "suction cups" and they can climb smooth surfaces with ease. The skin is covered with a thick cuticle that allows it to retain moisture as an adaptation to arid areas. Frogs can extend their tongue well beyond the mouth because it is attached at the front of the mouth and flips forward. Their tongues have a sticky area on the lower surface which is pressed against glands (which produce an adhesive secretion) in the roof of the mouth. These adaptations help them catch their prey. Sounds are made by forcing air from the lungs over vocal cords and into sacs in the throat region which modify and amplify the sound. After the call is completed, the air is returned to the lungs to be used again.

INTERPRETIVE INFORMATION:
Also known as "Dumpy Tree Frog" because of the flabby look (large folds of skin look like fat) or "Smiling Frog" because of the mouth appearance. Extracts from the skin have medical uses such as fighting staphylococcus that can cause abscesses, lowering blood pressure, and treating cold sores caused by the herpes virus. Caerulein (toxin secreted by this frog) is also produced synthetically as a treatment for abnormal blood pressure.

OUR ANIMALS:

STATUS IN WILD:
Not threatened. Protected in all Australian states except South Australia.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. Bruin, Tami. "Litoria caerulea" University of Michigan Museum of Zoology Animal Diversity Web. Internet.
  2. Discovery Channel. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians. Discovery Books, NY, p. 131.
  3. Internet: www.bright.net/alrep/alwhitecare.html www.allaboutfrogs.org www.zoo.org.au "Green Tree Frog, Litoria caerulea" www.santabarbarazoo.org "Whites Tree Frog"
  4. Stebbins, Robert & Nathan Cohen. 1995. A Natural History of Amphibians. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, p. 59-61, 77.

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