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  1. 33 Southern Brown Tree Frog (C) Amphibian Research Centre, Photograph by Lydia Fucsko

Southern Brown Tree Frog

Litoria ewingi

Appearance

  • Colour: ranges from pale fawn, cream, or orange to light brown, although some individuals in western Victoria and South Australia are partly or completely green. It has a wide brown band that starts from between its eyes and runs down its back. Darker flecks are also scattered across its back. It has a narrow black or brown stripe that runs from its snout to its shoulder, and a pale stripe that runs from below its eye to the base of its arm. Its belly is white to yellow and breeding males have a light brown vocal sac (beneath their mouth). 
  • Its back is smooth with small lumps, its fingers have no webbing and its toes are half webbed.
  • Size: 2 cm to 4.5 cm. 

Behaviour

  • Call: males call when hidden among vegetation in water, or at the water’s edge. Less commonly, they can be heard calling far away from water. Their call is a series of rapid, harsh whirring, pulsing notes (“creeeeeee creee creee cree cree cree”) that are repeated between 5 and 15 times, and the first note is usually held the longest.
  • Diet: insects, which it can leap to catch in mid-flight!
  • Movement: agile climbing and jumping.
  • Breeding: males call to attract females throughout the year, but more frequently and intensely after heavy rain. Breeding peaks in late winter/early spring and in autumn. Females lay their eggs in jelly clumps (usually under water, attached to submerged vegetation), in the still waters of streamside ponds, dams, lakes, and flooded roadside ditches and ponds. The tadpoles hatch after four to six days. 

What to Observe

  • Calling
  • Courting/mating
  • The appearance of eggs 

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

  • We expect frogs to start calling and laying eggs earlier in the year as a result of climate change warming the Earth.
  • They may also start appearing in new areas as warmer temperatures enable them to live in environments that were previously too cold for them. 

When To Look

  • Most of the year; breeding peaks in late winter/early spring and in autumn.
  • Listen for males calling at night, particularly after rain. 

Where To Look

  • In south-eastern Australia, from the Murray River through southern Victoria and Tasmania, and into south-eastern South Australia. It is also found along the south coast of New South Wales.
  • In a wide range of habitats including coastal lagoons, swamps, forests, grasslands and marshes, and often in urban gardens.
  • Look in or near still or slow-moving water, especially suburban gardens and flooded grasslands.
  • It is frequently found under logs and rocks, and also clinging to windows and visiting bathrooms! 

Southern Brown Tree Frog Occurrence Map ALA

References

Cogger, HG 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Reed Books, Sydney.

Barker, J, Grigg, GC and Tyler, MJ 1995. A Field Guide to Australian Frogs. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Sydney.

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  1. What Else?

    • Victorian Frog / False Ewing's Tree Frog (Litoria paraewingi): generally smaller, with a slower call and not normally found in the same areas.
    • Verreaux's Tree Frog (Litoria verreauxi): has dark or black blotches on its sides, and its finger/toe pads are only as wide as, and not wider than, its fingers/toes.
    • Lesueur's Tree Frog (Litoria lesueuri): has a visible ear drum (a darker patch just behind its eye).
  1. Did You Know?

    Females lay between 500 and 700 eggs at one time!

    It takes between 12 and 26 weeks for tadpoles to start changing into frogs.

    The call recording is by David Stewart Naturesound

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