Australian green tree frog (Litoria caerulea)

The first time I saw this frog I knew I wanted to blog about it. There’s just something about the frog’s shape that makes me giggle a little. Then I found out that an alternative common name for the species is the dumpy frog, and I could not resist writing about it.

Australian green tree frogs are not just found in Australia — they also live in parts of New Guinea, so they should really be called ‘Australian and New Guinean green tree frogs’. That’s a bit of a mouthful though, so I’ll just call them dumpy frogs. They are quite adaptable for amphibians, being able to live in both wet and dry areas, though they prefer moist habitats. This flexibility also means that dumpy frogs are quite common in urban settlements, and have been known to hang around in outhouses, water tanks, and reservoirs. They aren’t really afraid of people, which has led to amusing incidents where dumpy frogs have leapt onto the laps of people taking dumps.

See how funny they look?They just seem... puffy. Image source: Wikipedia

See how funny they look?They just seem… puffy.
Image source: Wikipedia

Dumpy frogs can get reasonably large, reaching 11.5 cm in length. The ‘dumpy’ moniker comes mainly from a fatty ridge over the eyes, which gives the frogs a distinct pudgy look. They range from blue-green to a bright green, with lighter undersides. They can change their colour based on their surroundings, usually turning brown or greyish to blend in.

Reproduction in dumpy frogs occurs during the summer months, when it is nice and wet from the rainy season. Males grow a special black pad on their thumbs which they use to grip the female during copulation. When the female lays her eggs, she does so with great force: the eggs can travel as much as half a meter through water before they sink to the bottom. The eggs hatch after one to three days, with tadpoles developing into frogs after two or three weeks. Sexual maturity is reached after two years.

A great example of an obese dumpy frog. Image credit: Joachim S. Müller via Flickr

A great example of an obese dumpy frog.
Image credit: Joachim S. Müller via Flickr

Dumpy frogs are quite a hardy species. They withstand dry spells by secreting a mucus on their skin that prevents water loss, as well as burrowing in moist soil. These secretions also have antiviral and antibacterial properties, which may have value in human pharmaceuticals. Green tree frogs are very popular as pets, thanks to their docile nature and resistance to death. They main difficulty experienced in having dumpy frogs as pets is keeping them fit: they tend to get fat. Which isn’t too much of a surprise for an animal known as ‘dumpy’.

Cover image source: Wikipedia

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2 thoughts on “Australian green tree frog (Litoria caerulea)

  1. I am wondering exactly who would find the incident “amusing”? Perhaps someone other than the frog or the person using the amphibian infested facilities?

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