With all the rain we have been having some lucky residents have spotted window frogs – little groups of frogs clinging to the outside of the window. What are they doing there? And what kind of frogs are they?
We have a few different kinds of frogs locally. There are the big hefty ground living frogs – such as the Pobblebonk or Eastern Banjo Frog. These guys are in the genus Limnodynastes and have feet that are perfect for digging in soil. Then we have the teeny tiny little frogs that are also mainly ground living – making their way through moss and leaf litter and hiding at the base of grasses and tussocks. These are the Crinia, Geocrinia and the Pseudophrynes – such as the Bibron’s Toadlet. Finally we have the genus Litoria – the tree frogs! These frogs are born climbers – clinging to tree trunks, leaves, stems and windows with their big sticky adhesive toe pads. The most common tree frog locally is Litoria ewingii – also known as the Southern Brown Tree Frog or Ewing’s Tree Frog.
And why are these little froggies clinging to the windows?
There are a few theories. The most obvious is that the frogs are using the windows as a convenient perch for hunting the relatively abundant insects that are attracted to the light coming from the house.
Another possibility is that the frogs are attracted to the warmth coming from the windows on the house. A warm surface might make hunting said insects even easier as the warmer temperature assists their cold little froggy muscles.
Perhaps the frogs are using windows as a convenient comfortable place to catch insects out of the heavy rain. Frogs breathe through their skin – so too much rain might not be ideal for them.
And another possibility is that windows provide a great place for frogs to hunt insects while staying safe from predators such as snakes and Tawny Frogmouths!
Or perhaps it is a combination of all of the above factors.
The Southern Brown Tree Frog has just started calling – it is the start of the breeding period for these guys – right through from June to November, although they can breed at any time of year. Their call is a lovely pulsing whistling “weep-eep-eep”. To hear Brown Tree Frogs calling – go to https://www.frogid.net.au/frogs/litoria-ewingii
A cute aspect of their behaviour is that they do a ‘rain call’ – that is they start calling at the onset of rain. This urge is so strong that they will call in response to the garden hose or sprinkler! I love it when that happens here – I feel like they are calling ‘thanks!’
Brown Tree Frogs aren’t really brown – they are generally sandy brown in colour with a distinctive dark stripe going from the snout through the eye. The same species in western Victoria ( eg Warrnambool) is green in colour! Another distinctive feature is a bright orange/ yellow patch on the underside of their thighs.
Thanks to Kate Tunney for sharing her window frog photo – and happy frogging!
Tanya Loos is a local naturalist, author and environmental consultant who loves to work in the environmental not-for-profit sector. She is the author of “Daylesford Nature Diary” available from her website or from Paradise Books in Vincent Street, Daylesford.
Have you got any nature questions for Tanya? Send them in!