The Brown Tree Frog, Litoria ewingii, is a pale fawn or brown frog with a dark stripe from the snout through the eye to the front limb and an undivided dark patch between the eyes. The thighs are yellowish. The fingers are free of webbing, the toes are webbed to approximately half way along the toes and finger and toe pads are present. Total length to around 45 mm.
Brown Tree FrogPhotographer: Peter Robertson. Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty. Ltd.
The Brown Tree Frog is a common from in suburban gardens and is distributed over much of southern Victoria. It can be found in a variety of habitats, including away from water. It is normally located under logs and other such materials.
The diet of Brown Tree Frogs consists of small invertebrates. The females lay up to 700 eggs in still water, usually attached to submerged grasses. Tadpoles grow to around 50 mm.
Barker, J., Grigg, G. and Tyler, M. J. 1995. A Field Guide to Australian Frogs. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Sydney.
Cogger, H. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Reed Books, Sydney.
Hero, J. M., Littlejohn, M. & Marantelli, G. 1991. Frogwatch Field Guide to Victorian Frogs. Department of Conservation and Environment, East Melbourne.
Tyler, M. J. 1992. Encyclopaedia of Australian Animals: Frogs. Angus & Robertson, Sydney.
Keeping frogs away from a habitat they enjoy is challenging, especially when the frogs are as adaptable as these ones. As noted in the above article, it's not only watery environments that attract these frogs - a range of features of your yard may be "frog-friendly" ones. For further information about garden features that attract frogs, see the link provided in response to Mitchell's comment; might reversing some of these suggestions help?
Hi Brandon and thanks for your query. Brown Tree Frogs are predators and will begin feeding several days after metamorphosing and leaving the water. They will eat small insects (small enough for them to get in their mouths whole). Small crickets and cockroaches (commercially available) are ideal, but they can be fed wild caught insect such as flies and moths. Avoid feeding them stinging or biting species such as wasps or ants. Please note: Although Brown Tree Frogs are a common local species, they are protected by law. Any frog kept in Victoria must be obtained from a legal source (breeder, pet shop, etc) and cannot be taken from the wild.
Hi Brandon. Thanks for the further questions about your frogs. We have again asked our Live Exhibits team for information for you. Your frogs do also require ‘land’ are within the tank. A substrate of moist coco-peat, available from a hardware store, is suitable. The substrate will need to be changed periodically to prevent the build up of wastes. And you can expect your Brown Tree Frogs will grow to between 25 – 40mm.
Jo, these frogs pose no threat to dogs whatsoever, and will probably disappear along with the floods. Please do not attempt to remove them in the meantime, as this is highly disruptive to the frog population.
Hi Megan - thanks for your query. We recommend you contact the Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service for advice on releasing your Brown Tree Frog into the wild.
Hi Ping, we have contacted the Live Exhibits team for some advice for you. As the frog has made its way into your house, there must be a suitable frog habitat somewhere nearby, perhaps a parkland or wetlands. Our Live Exhibits staff have suggested that such a habitat must be somewhere close to where you live.
Hi Ruben, we have contacted the Live Exhibits Team and they have suggested you consider one of two things. You could either return the frog to Torquay or alternatively contact the Lost Frogs Home, you can find details here: http://frogs.org.au/vfg/features/lostfrogs.html
Hi Chloe - Your frog requires a mature male to grip her in amplexus before she will release the eggs, this usually occurs after the male has been calling. Hopefully you have a mature male or two in your enclosure. Increase the amount of mist spraying (rain) the frogs are getting, this may stimulate males to call and things to happen.
Hi Taz, it's great that you are concerned for the frog but our Live Exhibits staff have said that the best thing you can do for the frog is release it. Keeping it in captivity increases the disease risks.
Usually one frog would mean that there are probably more in the area. Brown Tree Frogs (Litoria ewingii) breed in the winter months (June-Sept), so that is the best time to see and hear them, as they will come to small water bodies to breed.
We forwarded your question to Museum Victoria's animal keepers, who responded with the following:
Brown Tree Frogs (Litoria ewingi) have one of the shortest periods as tadpoles of all Australian frog species – coincidentally, about two months. This will vary on the ambient temperature and water temperature, as well as the availability of food, but means that they should have metamorphosed by the time the house is demolished. If they are still tadpoles at that time, they will at least have grown and become more robust in the intervening period, so if you need to transfer them they will have a better chance of surviving in a new habitat.
Hi Claire, the species you have is most likely the Southern Brown Tree Frog (Litoria ewingi). They can be kept together as a group when adults, so there is no need to separate them. Once the tadpoles have left the water they have less need to return to it, but water should be provided at all times for the adults as well. The adults have little need for water compared to other frog species, but should always be given access to some, even if it is a small water dish. In your situation you might as well keep the metamorphs in an area with water, just in case they feel the need for it.
Hi Blue, your frog is probably too young to sex. When it fully matures, you can sex it using the following features: 1) as a very general rule, females tend to be bigger than males; 2) during the breeding season males may have a distinctly green throat, and outside the breeding season the throat of males is creamy coloured in contrast to the white of females; 3) during the breeding season, males have very distinctive nuptial pads on the undersides of the front fingers, which look like small black lines (best seen with the frog in a jar held up to the light); 4) if you play a recorded call – available on the internet – to the frog, it is a male if it answers back.
The should be fed crickets or flies twice a week. Crickets are easier and each frog should be fed 8-12 small to medium crickets each feed – don’t overfeed or the crickets will foul the water bowl.
The frogs won’t breed this time of year but if you would like to breed them you’ll need a separate tank of about the same dimensions, filled about one third with water and with a small log sitting above the water surface. A small pump that sprays water onto the back of the enclosure will encourage them to spawn.
Hi Kellie - we ran this past our staff from our Live Exhibits team, and they have responded as follows:
A light is not essential for the maintenance of brown tree frogs. However, because they still need to know when it’s day and night, it’s best to keep the enclosure in a well lit area outside of direct sunlight. This will allow the frog to undergo a proper daily cycle.
Brown Tree Frogs (Litoria ewingii) can be kept indoors without heating or a heat lamp, unless the temperature falls below 10 degrees Celsius, in which case some heating will be required. This species is common throughout much of southeastern Australia, including areas with cold climates.
For details about South Australian permits, you will need to contact the State Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources. DEWNR has a 'Basic Keep and Sell Permit' for common native animals, but they must be captive bred and need to be obtained from a private breeder or pet shop rather than collected from the wild. You will need to check with DEWNR whether Brown Tree Frogs fall within this category.
In particular, Green Tree Frogs (Litoria caerulea) will generally eat anything that fits into their mouths, including other frogs.
To get them breeding you may need to spray them with heavy droplets of water regularly to simulate rainfall. Breeding generally occurs in autumn and early spring in the wild, and eggs are laid in several clusters of a few hundred eggs.
Brown Tree Frogs (Litoria ewingi) are not very easy to sex but the following attributes might help: 1) females tend to be bigger than males; 2) during the breeding season males may have a distinctly green throat, and outside the breeding season the throat of males is creamy coloured in contrast to the white of females; 3) during the breeding season, males have very distinctive nuptial pads on the undersides of the front fingers, which look like small black lines (best seen with the frog in a jar held up to the light); 4) if you play a recorded call – available on the internet – to the frog, it is a male if it answers back.
The frogs are presumably purchsed from a licenced breeder. The Department of Sustainability and the Environment (DSE) states that it is not permissible to take frogs from the wild, or to keep native animals as pets without the correct licence. A list of the native species that may be kept by private collectors can be found at on DSE Private Wildlife Licences website.
Hi Madyson - we asked our Live Exhibits team about this, and they've responded with this:
Frogs have four toes on the front feet (in the manner you described) and five toes on the back feet. It is the same for all frog species. Breeding for Brown Tree Frogs (Litoria ewingi) occurs in spring and autumn, and there are a number of ways to tell males from females - females are usually bigger; males have a distinctly green throat during the breeding season; and males have nuptial pads on the undersides of the toes on the front legs.
The Brown Tree Frog (Litoria ewingi) sometimes has flecks of green, or green stripes, across its back but can also be entirely green. This seems to occur mostly with specimens from southern and western Victoria and as a general rule, their natural brown colour returns over time.
Frogs die for a number of different reasons and one of them is old age/natural causes. However, if your tank smells of ammonia there may be issues with the water and the build-up of waste products. Water testing kits are available from pet shops and are easy to use. Changing the water as you have been is a good start, but in between changes it might be useful to test the water and compare it to the charts provided with the water testing kit – particularly pH and ammonia. This will tell you whether there is a build-up of wastes in the water, and whether it needs to be changed more often.
Under normal conditions, frogs and tadpoles may be adapted to coping with dried up dams, or if individuals aren’t adapted to coping then the species as a whole will be. Because of the harsh conditions of the Australian environment, many animal species are adapted to breeding as quickly and profusely as possible when the good times arrive, pumping out generation after generation until the bad times return. When this happens, individuals are left stranded with no food or water or habitat, as the case may be, but the strategy is overall a successful one for many Australian species. It’s a different situation when the bad times are caused by humans, as animals aren’t adapted to these changes. But under normal circumstances it’s often better to leave the animals in place to cope in their own ways.
The reason it’s illegal to collect and keep frogs is that moving them around may change the genetic make-up of populations (in your case it won’t) and may increase the chance of spreading chytrid fungus, the world’s most devastating frog disease (in your case it’s possible but unlikely).
Tadpoles can be kept together in a tank with no other furnishings and fed frozen endive or cos lettuce (which needs to be frozen so the plant cells rupture and become accessible to the tadpoles). Be careful not to put too many tadpoles together as the protein and ammonia levels in the water will kill them, and change one third of the water every couple of days to prevent this happening. A log, rock or floating plastic lid should be available to the tadpoles to climb out as they start developing legs. They become independent and able to move on land when they have all four legs and the tail has disappeared.
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