Identification

Identifying frogs can be difficult at the best of times, even Differences in Litoria pearsoniana frogs with an identification book in hand. For the enthusiast, or dare I say 'frogaholic', the ability to ID frogs is essential, and comes with time.

Frogs vary in colour, markings, patterns and size, the former three even within species. As a beginner, I had difficulty identifying the cascade tree frog (Litoria pearsoniana) due to it's vastly differing markings and colours. Some species may even be confused for several distinct species until genetic analysis reveals otherwise. Differences in Litoria wilcoxii frogsKnowing the region a frog is found in is also quite important. For example, there are laughing tree frogs in the northern and southern regions of Queensland (Litoria rothii - northern species) and (Litoria tylerii -southern species). Other frogs from the same species differ vastly in colour, such as the stony-creek frog (Litoria wilcoxii). During mating season, the much smaller male is a bright lemon-yellow colour compared to the female's brown-grey colour. Frogs will also change their colour to match their surroundings, as illustrated by the Litoria peronii (below-right).Colour change in Litoria peronii

The layperson often perceives a frog to be green and any other coloured amphibian to be a cane toad, but this couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, not many frogs are completely green, with only some of the tree frogs displayed in this colour (yet even the common green tree Differences in Litoria caerulea frogsfrog (Litoria caerulea) can come in a brown and a rare blue colour). Most, particularly in the ground frog family (Limnodynastidae) are a brown variation, some more than others or complimented with a few other colours such as yellow, greys and other pale colours. Thankfully, when it comes to frogs and toads, there is only the one species of cane toad (Rhinella marina) that we need to distinguish alone to identify the differences between toads and Australian frogs.




So, when you spot a frog you want to ID, there are several things to look out for.

Taking photos is one way to ensure you remember everything for later reference. If you're still having difficulty identifying a frog, send me an email and I'd be happy to help out.

References:
(2009) 'Wildlife of Greater Brisbane: A Queensland Museum Wild Guide', 2nd edition, Queensland Museum, Brisbane, Australia, pp.428.
Czechura, G. (2008) 'Frogs of South-East Queensland: A Queensland Museum Wild Guide', Queensland Museum, Brisbane, Australia, pp.68.

© 2014 Jono Hooper