White’s Tree Frog

Litoria caerulea Whites tree frog

Whites tree frog female. Photo by: Bidgee Wikimedia commons CC by 3.0

White’s tree frog, or Litoria caerulea, is a frog that most people have seen in pictures, although they may not have known the actual name. This is a fascinating critter that is unique in many respects when compared with other variants of tree frogs.

Alternative names:

Dumpy tree frog; Australian green tree frog; Green tree frog

Description:

White’s tree frogs are one of the larger tree frog species, with females measuring an average of 4 inches in length and males measuring in the 3 inch range. Their bodies can vary in color from light blue-green to emerald green and feature gold or white spots on their sides. White’s tree frog has a couple of physical features that set it apart from other species, namely its horizontal pupils and fatty ridge over the eye.

Location:

Native to Australia and southern New Guinea, and have been introduced in New Zealand.

Habitat:

White’s tree frogs prefer a moist and forested environment, but have skin that enables them to exist in dryer and wetter habitats as well. Unlike other species of tree frogs, this variety does not live near or in water, but in trees. When residing within a rainforest, the frequent rains causes water to collect on leaves, in bowl-shaped plants, and crevices, giving White’s tree frog a constant source of water. In drier climates, it will burrow underground and cover themselves in cocoon made from their sloughed epidermis and mucus.

Diet:

White’s tree frogs are carnivorous, dining on insects like roaches, locusts, and moths

Breeding:

White's tree frog tadpole

White’s tree frog tadpole. Photo by: Jean-Marc Hero http://calphotos.berkeley.edu

Breeding occurs in the summer rainy seasons in moist places, including drainage systems, water systems, and water tanks. Females can lay up to 150 to 300 eggs in a single clutch and they expel them from their body with such force that they often do not come to rest until they are half a meter away from her and have burst through the deposited sperm cloud. One interesting feature is that during mating season, males will grow a black pad on their thumb; this helps them to maintain their grip on the female during amplexus as the female hunts for a spot to deposit her eggs, a process that can take several days. Eggs hatch within one to three days and the species reaches maturity in two years.

Behavior:

White’s tree frogs are docile, mainly nocturnal creatures that are not terribly active. They are remarkably people-friendly, a trait that has made them a popular pet

Lifespan:

The average lifespan of White’s tree frogs is an impressive 16 years.

Fun Facts:

1. Vanderbilt researchers have recently discovered that secretions from White’s tree frogs could play a part in the cure for AIDS, due to the possibility that the peptides produced by these secretions attacks HIV cells without harming healthy cells.
2. They are comfortable living around humans and can be found in people’s sinks and toilets, especially during drier months.

 

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