As most of Queensland – indeed Australia, is in drought, a few people have been asking ‘where do all the frogs go?’. For the purposes of this post we’ll assume folk are asking about frogs that occur in an urban or semi-urban/rural landscape, as these frogs are most often encountered.
Well, chances are frogs are seeking refuge in your own backyard without you knowing it. We’ve all seen the photos of Green Treefrogs congregating around or inside a toilet bowl or lined up along a roof gutter having sought refuge in the downpipe. But what about the other species? Frogs are masters at seeking out refuge and utilizing the habitat available to them. For some ground frog (frogs that cannot climb) and treefrog species, a pile of rocks, plastic tarpaulin/lining or corrugated iron lying around the yard provide both shelter and a cool, moist environment away from the scorching summer sun. Taller ground covers like native grasses and shrubs also provide valuable refuge for ground frogs.
And whilst a drying dam devoid of perimeter vegetation may seem barren, ground frogs will seek refuge in between the drying, cracked clay base. Other refugia include rock/block retaining walls, abandoned pipes, tree hollows, pot plants, mounds of soil and sand (for burrowing species) and tall native trees.
The recent excitement toward and subsequent plethora of ‘frog motels’ built and shared on social media has encouraged the wider community into thinking about habitat for our native frogs. Indeed, frog motels, commonly constructed from PVC pipe, do provide treefrogs with refuge. Folk need to keep in mind though that not all ‘motels’ suddenly attract frogs, and that the presence of frogs will likely invite snakes to the yard. Furthermore, frog motels are only occupied by a small suite of species, therefore providing habitat and refuge for a variety of species is important.
Finally, if possible, try and keep a constant source of water available in your yard. This will not only allow frogs an opportunity hydrate and breed in, but also provide a drinking source for other native fauna to remain hydrated during the drought.
So, go take a look around your yard tonight. You might be surprised to find a few frogs out and about. And if you can’t find any, consider what refuge and frog habitat you can (very easily) create – and jump onto it!