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Tree Frogs Anonymous

What happened with the frogs in early January 04
Also have Froglog 2005
and a sad canetoad picture page

It's now 2004 and the Tree frogs have been croaking madly (see video footage of green treefrog 135kb) for the last few weeks. Have counted at least 18 big green tree frogs within 50 metres of house, and heard countless more (not including all the other species of Treefrog. We have rescued about 200 tadpoles from a drying puddle (bone dry the next day) & placed in the tadpole pond. This pond had at least 3 Green tree frogs croaking at night and numerous other speckled brown treefrog (note the scientific quality of this report)

What appears to of occurred is that the Cane Toads have hit the road again, (He he.....see you in Darwin!) now that the rains have come and there are only a few about the yard (big ones). We have only heard a few calling for a mate.....but it only takes one more.

The Kids swimming pool converted to the tadpole pond. (No Kids were injured in persuading them to give up pool) (OK there was 1, but he got better) (look, it took a week longer than expected)

What we have observed in the 1st week of captivity

Some of the 200 + tadpoles have already grown hind legs (within 14 days of there being water (That big dump on Katherine from EX Tropical Cyclone Debbie). We have many upside-down holed Orchid pots in the pond for shelter. They are thriving on decaying Paw Paw leaves, lettuce & fish food. (They go crazy over fish food flakes).

The tadpoles are cannibalistic, feeding on other dead tadpoles. We noticed that the dead tadpoles were the more developed with front legs.......what could be the problem?. We upped the feeding rate, reduced the amount of tadpoles in the wading pool by placing some of the tadpoles in other environments (secondary bath tub & fish pond) returned a few to the original natural pond (although it was drying up at the same time, we will monitor water level).

We ensured that there are more objects at various slopes protruding from the water, to give the emerging frogs a resting place as they start to breath oxygen. (Pond starts to resemble a junk yard at this stage)

Tadpoles feeding on a canetoadlet

It is only been 2 weeks since the rain that enabled the frogs to spawn, and one week in the pond. It has been a steep learning curve already.

So Just what do we have in the pond?

Already we can see different species of frogs/toads at various stages of growth & sizes.......maybe we have progressed the cane toad population and saved a few more hundred of them.......Oh well.

One frogpole has a creme stripe down its back & I'd guess this is a marbled frog, many are minute and hard to photograph.

It is day 15 since the overnight downpour that filled the ponds for a while, and we have hoppers everywhere. Unfortunately these hoppers are cane toads (by the hundreds or thousands). I will have to give it to them, they are survivors. They are standing up on their front legs in that unmistakable gruff cane toad stance.

Now this is good! Because it means they are leaving the breeding pond in droves and the slower growing larger (more vulnerable) treefrogs will have a bit more room to stretch their legs. One thing we have not seen is Tadpoles eating tadpoles of the same size, which makes us think that the tadpoles have not died from eating the canetoadlets. (food for thought for any researchers, maybe the frogs do fight back).


The canetoads bid for freedom @ 2 weeks
(see you guys later in the dry season)

For anyone wondering why we just do not kill the toadlets now? Quite simply because we are not sure if they are only canetoads. There may be other natural frog or toad species emerging at the same time and these things are hard to see (let alone photograph at this size)

They will get theirs later in the dry season when they converge on the verandahs and are bigger.

19 days on
Cleaned out the tadpole pond today (should of been done at least 2 days ago), it had about 15 floating cane toads the size of the ones in the above photo all dead. Given their high breeding rate, I gather there is also a high mortality rate. There were no remains of the larger tadpoles found, and with the pond water a bit clearer for a while, it is good to see their movements. I kept about half of the debris on the bottom of the pond & replaced the water (Since the tadpoles feed on their own droppings, it is good to not clean the pond too thoroughly) (so I read). The other bathtub pond is keeping very clean on its own (possibly because it is partially covered and has a large population of fish), there are about 15 tadpoles in there and they are growing well. (and another 25 cane toads that have been moving out over the last week)

21 Days on
There is new frog spawn in the bathtub since the evening storm.

One thing we have noticed in out attempts to breed Green tree Frogs is that finally the older frogs have actually utilised the breeding ponds during the mating calls.

They still prefer to use the natural ponds topped up after the rains. (And so far this wet season we have had several ponds stay wet, enabling the tadpoles to survive. Unlike previous years when the showers were too far apart and ponds dried within a week))

It will be interesting to see what type of treefrog emerges from this tub. The tadpoles in this tub are larger than the cane toads pictured.

Frogs eggs in the bathtub with a few small canetoads floating about since the tadpole rescue

After going for another walk after the storm last night, I realise that the green tree frog numbers may not be in decline (since arrival of the Cane Toad), the air was filled with the deafening sound of a several hundred frogs. And many of those were the unmistakable deeper sounding green tree frog.

January 23. A month on since the initial spawn & the ponds have nearly dried up several times. Not that it appears to matter as with the warmer temps of 36C the pond water has been uncomfortable to walk in and it is apparent that there is no tadpole life in them at all. So what we gather from this is that only the cane toads survived by turning into toads within weeks, while the frog takes much longer & hence gets beaten by the weather.

We did come across a thumbnail sized green tree frog the other night in the garden, so some have survived at an earlier time in some other pond that we were not keeping an eye on.

We are removing more than half the bath tub & kids pool water each week and refilling with fresh pure rainwater (from the tank). This keeps the water nicer & enables the tadpoles to grow (because tadpoles produce an enzyme into the water to limit growth of other tadpoles). (Ever had 10 tadpoles for 5 months & wonder why they didn't grow?). You need to dilute the water by keeping it clean & refreshed.

One large tadpole has 4 well developed legs and a tail (still has remnants of gills but is trying to breathe), many others are still at the back leg stage.  All up there are probably only 30ish tadpoles remaining & we know that these are not canetoads.

Tonight there are 10 large green tree frogs around the house with a few more out around the garden. (& our regular possum doing the rounds)

January 28 - After a 100 mm of rain this morning the frogs have been calling since lunch time & into the night. It was more of a "this is it guys" call. During the evening there were 3 pairs of frogs noted in a "piggy back" position and these were not involved in calling. Nor were 2 of these pairs anywhere near water (like the calling frogs). The frogs pictured here were in embrace for over 2 hours in the palm tree. They were over 30 metres from any water.

The Cane Toads were also out calling "dut dut dut" throughout the night.

What a contrast in green colours.

Mid February 04- Well the rain this year has been fairly consistent, with a lot of water still laying around. Last night I counted 17 fingernail sized green tree frogs around the house (removed 4 from inside) Plus another 4 medium sized (4cm long) & the usual 4 bigger frogs. This is just a small fraction of what is around.

In summary, the Green Tree frog is here to stay! It is just like all the other creatures that have good years & bad years (last year 2004, was been good for it). Cane Toads on the other hand seem to do OK in bad years as well, which is the concern. We may find that with the birds, marsupials & reptiles, that feast on the frogs (and have since been knocked for 6 by the consumption of cane toads) that there may be an explosion of frog numbers over the next few years.

Try our Froglog 2005

We sure miss the meander of the giant goannas (& their smaller siblings) as they used to wander through the yard (& into the chook pen !@*?). Never could of imagined they would all be gone in the local Katherine area due to a few pesky cane toads arriving.

Give them a few years and they will be back (Just like at Borroloola).

This photo taken 12May04 at Kalkarindji NT (Wave Hill). Middle of harsh arid climate,
surviving well without Cane Toads. Not too sure how they would go without the
creature comforts of "home". Counted 9, but were 11 the night before in this outdoor loo.