Crick, crick, crick, crick, crick; Croak Croak, Croak Croak; Creiik, creiik, creiik. creiik, creiik; Weep, eep, eep, eep. Whilst in most areas the sound of cars, people, dogs and neighbours are the dominant sound of the night, in my garden the Frog Chorus is by far the loudest and most varied sound that I hear at night. It competes with the intermittent sounds of possums, owls, night-jars and gliders. Who are these noisy little friends and what do they need to survive.
Frogs can be found anywhere there is water, in dams, ditches, creeks, fish ponds and the like. They can be found by waters edge, in or by nearby vegetation, under rocks or logs or other cover. Although recorded sightings of frogs in the early days of settlement in Mt. Evelyn are rare, in the 1980s thirteen species of frogs were identified here. How many different calls can you identify in your garden?
One of the most common in my garden is the Brown Tree Frog, Litoria ewingii, It is a small frog, pale cream- brown in colour with a broad band on its neck scattered with darker flecks. I very often hear them singing in the frog chorus in the evening. Many a time I have disturbed them when I’m working in my hot house. a favourite haunt of theirs. The warm damp atmosphere seems to be most agreeable. Occasionally one will venture into my lounge room, usually an adult, which I catch and place back in the garden. One night quite recently as I was about to retire to bed, I noticed something very small leap across the floor. On closer inspection I discovered it was a tiny Brown Tree Frog, no bigger than my little finger nail. Being so small it was much harder to catch than the adults that have come inside to investigate, but I did manage to return him to safety. No sooner had I returned to the house when up hops froggie’s twin, same size and equally difficult to catch. After returning him to the garden I began to wonder how they had come in. I guess as there is a large tree-fern outside my dining room window, they must have hopped up the tree-fern and in the window.
Other Litoria species found here are , Lesseurs Frog, Litoria lesueri, The Green or Warty Swamp Frog, Litoria raniformis, and Verreaux’s Tree Frog Litoria verreauxii. These frogs have adhesive or sticky discs on their toes and fingers, webbing between their toes and horizontal pupils in their eyes.
Frogs vary in size. The Common Brown Froglet Crinia signiferi, is the smallest frog, 30mm. found here. Crinia means ‘having hairs’ – their toes are fringed with hairs, but not webbed. The Victorian Smoothe Froglet Geocrinia victoriana, is a similar species, often found below leaf litter , logs and rocks. It is a little larger growing up to 31mm.
Lymnodynastes, meaning ‘Lord of the marshes’, have three representatives in Mt. Evelyn. The smallest of these is the Spotted Marsh Frog Lymnodynastes tasmaniensi, 45mm. The Striped Marsh Frog Lymnodynastes peronii, is a little larger 65mm, and The Banjo Frog or Eastern Pobblebonk Lymnodynastes dumerilii, is the largest at 70mm. It gets its name from its single banjo like “plonk” sound repeated at intervals.
Three other frogs identified here are The Painted Burrowing Frog Neobatrachus sudelli, Bibron’s Toadlet Pseudophyne bibronii, and The Southern or Orange Throated Toadlet Pseudophyne semimarmorata.
Frogs will survive anywhere there is suitable water and vegetation to hide in. They eat mosquito larvae and insects and lay their eggs in watery places where the tadpoles hatch and grow into frogs. They can be found along along the Olinda and Stringybark Creeks, the Warburton Trail and are known to breed in wet grassy sections of the Aqueduct Walk near Joy Avenue.
Frogs have always fascinated me. As a young child growing up in Melboune’s Eastern suburbs, there were many swamps and creeks to explore. My brothers and sisters and I would often go tadpole-ing. We
would take our buckets down to any watery place and catch tadpoles and bring them home to watch them grow into frogs.Or that’s what my older brothers, who did most of the catching thought. Un be known to them my older sister, Anne, was honing her teaching skills on her little sisters. She would take us out to the tadpoles, catch one for each of us to hold and place them in our hands so that we could pat them, while she explained how they would grow legs and hop off as little frogs. When it stopped wriggling, she would pop it back in the water and replace it with a wriggly one. Strangely not many of these little wrigglers grew into frogs. I guess my brothers never found out why their success rate was so low.
Did you know that it is the male which does all the ‘croaking’. By calling he is letting all the female frogs know where to find him. I guess that is why he calls so loudly and for so long.