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Learn about Queensland’s frogs by exploring our fact sheets and images relating to their features and breeding strategies.
Australia has an incredibly diverse frog fauna, represented by five families Pelodryadidae (Australian Treefrogs); Ranidae (True Frogs); Microhylidae (Narrow-mouthed Frogs); Myobatrachidae (Toadlets and Froglets) and Limnodynastidae (Ground Frogs), which occupy a broad range of habitats and exhibit some unusual breeding strategies. Most Australian frogs lay their eggs in water, but some lay their eggs on land. The nursery frogs (Cophixalus spp.) use damp soil or leaf litter and their eggs hatch out as fully formed froglets. The Hip-pocket Frogs (Assa spp.) go a step further, with the males carrying their tadpoles around in special hip pouches. But the now extinct gastric brooding frogs had the strangest strategy of all. The female swallowed her eggs, used her stomach as a brood pouch and later spat out fully formed froglets.
Some frogs are familiar and widespread, readily adapting to modified habitats. Striped Marsh Frogs (Limnodynastes peronii) will readily colonise backyard fishponds and it is not unusual to find a Green Treefrog (Litoria caerulea) sitting happily in the toilet bowl.
Some species have narrow distributions, perched on high mountain tops. The Beautiful Nursery Frog (Cophixalus concinnus) occurs on top of Thornton Peak where it is threatened by climate change, having nowhere to go as the world warms up.
Cane Toads (Rhinella marina) were introduced to Australia as a biological control for Greyback and French’s Cane Beetles that were decimating Queensland’s sugar industry. They were released into cane fields near Gordonvale in 1935 but were not successful in controlling these pests. The adult beetles were too high on the cane stalks for the toads to reach and their grubs lived below ground, feeding on sugar cane roots. Instead, the toads ate anything else (both vertebrates and invertebrates) of a suitable size that they could find and capture. They have become a major pest, colonising large areas of Queensland, the north-eastern coast of New South Wales, the top-end of the Northern Territory and the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Cane Toads have toxic skin secretions which result in the deaths of native mammals and reptiles that attempt to eat them. Quolls, goannas and some snakes are particularly susceptible to poisoning in this manner. Cane Toads also compete with native animals for food and shelter.
The gastric brooding frogs were truly unique. No other frogs supress their gastric secretions to allow their tadpoles to develop into fully formed froglets within the confines of their mother’s stomach. The Southern Gastric Brooding Frog (Rheobatrachus silus) was described in 1973 but had disappeared from the wild by 1981. This was quickly followed by the demise of its northern cousin (R. vitellinus), a species that was discovered in 1984 but was last seen in 1985. The disappearance of these frogs was caused by a fungal disease (chytridiomycosis) which damages the surface layers of the skin. One theory suggests that this pathogen was introduced to Australia, arriving with African Clawed Frogs (Xenopus laevis), which were imported for research purposes and once commonly used for pregnancy tests.
The are currently around 247 species of frogs in Australia of which around 135 occur in Queensland.
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