The white-lipped tree-frog is Australia’s largest native frog species and is considered to be among the largest tree-frogs on Earth. Their body measures between 10 and 14cm (4 to 5.5in) long.
Their name comes from a white stripe which runs along the bottom of their lip. A line of white spots also runs down the lower legs. Across the rest of the upper body they are bright green though this may vary to a bronze-brown to assist with camouflage.
In some frogs they will develop a salmon-pink stripe along the arms and legs during the breeding season.
They have smooth skin without any bumps.
The large eye features a gold iris with a horizontal black pupil. Behind this sits a visible eardrum.
On the back feet the toes are almost completely webbed with the fingers on the front feet being partly webbed. These lay at the end of long arms and legs. Each toes has a sticky pad to assist them with climbing trees.
They are a carnivore and feed on a diet of insects and other arthropods. On rare occasions they have been observed eating small vertebrates.
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They are found on a number of islands in the south pacific including Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste.
In Australia they are isolated to the tropical Northern areas of Queensland. They can occasionally be found in southern areas of the country having travelled there in boxes of bananas.
They can be found in many tropical habitats such as rainforest, monsoon woodlands and wet sclerophyll forest. They have shown an ability to survive in human modified areas such gardens, parks and agricultural areas.
Breeding takes place during spring and summer. During this time the arms and legs of the males display a salmon pink stripe. Males and females will come together around a water course such as a marsh, floodplain, puddle or pond.
The female will deposit up to 400 brown eggs in dumbbell shaped clumps on the waters surface. These jelly like egg sacs sink to the bottom of the water course. Eggs may be laid in permanent or temporary bodies of water.
From these the tadpoles will hatch. They are colored dark brown on top and silver-yellow underneath with a silver-orange stripe running down the body.
Within eight weeks the frogs will complete their metamorphosis in to an adult.
Females first reproduce after 2 years old.
Their call sounds like the bark of a dog and when threatened they make a sound which is described as being similar to the ‘meow’ of a cat.
Feeding takes place at night. Activity peaks on nights with high humidity.
Most of their time is spent in the trees with this frog being an agile climber. Their coloration provides camouflage when in the canopy.
As an amphibian they are able to breathe through their skin.
Predators and Threats
Natural predators include snakes such as tree snakes and pythons.
Infection with chytrid fungus is another treat to their survival along with habitat loss. Small numbers are collected in Indonesia for sale in the local and international pet trade.
Due to their size they may also be called the giant tree frog.
By Bignoter – English WP, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=542244
CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1526757
By JJ Harrison (https://www.jjharrison.com.au/) – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15734986
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Australia’s Wildlife. 2020. Giant Tree Frog (White-Lipped Tree Frog) – Australia’s Wildlife. [online] Available at: <https://australiaswildlife.com/site-contents/fact-sheets-australian-animals-plants/australian-frogs-and-toads/australian-tree-frogs/giant-tree-frog-white-lipped-tree-frog/> [Accessed 28 October 2020].
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