Genus/species: Litoria caerulea
This tree frog has many unique features that set it
apart from other tree frogs. It is a rather large tree
frog, ranging in length from three to 4.5 inches (7
to 11.5 cm). Females are usually slightly bigger than
The color of these frogs ranges from light blue to emerald
green or almost gray dorsally. As with many tree frogs,
this species is capable of some color change. The ventral
surface is a milky white and rough in texture.
The males have a grayish wrinkled vocal sac underneath their
throat region. The females have a white throat. These frogs
have enormous toe pads with partial webbing between fingers
and almost complete webbing between toes.
Their eyes have horizontal pupils, where most tree frogs
have vertical pupils. The fatty ridge over the eye is a
distinct White’s tree frog trait. As an adaptation
to arid areas they secrete a waxy covering over their skin
that helps retain water.
These frogs are very tame in nature and have little fear
of humans. They can be active in day or night. The male
calls year round from high positions in the trees. When
threatened they emit an ear-piercing distress call. During
the dry season they cover themselves in a cocoon of sloughed
epidermis and mucus and burrow to keep moist. During the
summer rainy season they feast for a few days then start
Distribution and Habitat
They are found in northern and eastern Australia, the islands
in Torres Straits, New Guinea, and have been introduced
to New Zealand.
These tree frogs have adapted to seasonally dry or wet habitats.
They prefer moist forested environments, but have skin that
can adjust to drier situations.
White's tree frogs do not typically live in or near water,
but instead live in trees. Rain collects on leaves, in cup-shaped
plants, and in crevices in tree trunks, giving the frogs
access to water. These places are replenished with water
from the almost daily rains, and the frogs always have a
source of water to keep themselves moist.
White's tree frogs are not found strictly in tropical rainforests.
In other forests, these frogs avoid desiccation in the dry
season by taking refuge in tree hollows or covering themselves
in a cocoon, as described above.
Diet in the Wild
They eat mainly insects such as moths, locusts, and roaches.
They are fed crickets and cockroaches three times a week.
White's tree frogs reach sexual maturity in their second year.
Breeding takes place in the summer rainy season. It often
takes place in very moist places, such as drainage systems,
water tanks, or grassy semi-permanent water systems.
The female expels her eggs with such a force that they go
through the deposited sperm cloud and stop up to 1.5 feet
(.5 m) away. A clutch can contain from 150 to 300 eggs. Once
fertilized, the eggs sink to the bottom substrate. Hatching
begins about 28 to 36 hours after laying. Metamorphosis can
occur in two to three weeks in good conditions.
The average life span is about 16 years, but one is recorded
to have lived 21 years in captivity.
Neither threatened nor endangered, this species
is reportedly still common in parts of its natural range.
The waxy blue-green color and the rolling skin folds of fatty
material have earned the White’s tree frog the nickname
“dumpy tree frog.”
Some scientists believe that these amazing animals can control
how much water is evaporated through the skin, and thus
have ability to control their body temperature. This frog's
adaptability allows it to share suburban and agricultural
areas with humans. They have been found in lavatories, water
tanks, and city reservoirs.
During the hot summer months they may appear on the verandas
of people's homes, or actually enter people's homes, while
looking for moisture.
In 1999, a Zoo pathologist published
his discovery of a then- mysterious infection that was afflicting
and eventually killing poison arrow frogs and White’s
tree frogs. Through his efforts, cutaneous chytridiomycosis
was documented for the first time as a vertebrate parasite.
The veterinarians along with keepers and pathologists also
developed a treatment for the chytrids. The same antifungal
that is used to kill athletes’ foot in humans can
be used with the frogs and toads.
Source of Information
All or part of this information was provided by the Animal Diversity Web and Museum of Zoology of the University of Michigan.
It appears here with their permission. The original author of this information was Tami Bruin.
For more information, including references, see the Animal Diversity Web account for this species, here:
http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/ site/ accounts/ information/ Litoria_caerulea.html.