The Spotted Marsh Frog, Limnodynastes tasmaniensis, is a light brown to olive green frog with a series of fairly regular blotched green patches along its back. In the Melbourne area, most Spotted Marsh Frogs have a vertebral stipe that is sometimes reddish in colour. They grow to a maximum length of around 50 mm.
Spotted Marsh FrogPhotographer: Peter Robertson / Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty. Ltd.
This is a widespread species found throughout most areas of Melbourne. It usually shelters under logs and stones on the edge of swamps, ponds and lagoons.
The diet consists mainly of invertebrates. Eggs are laid in floating foam masses on still waters and hatch after a few days. Tadpoles grow to a maximum length of 60 mm and take up to 5 months to develop into frogs.
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.
Thanks for your questions. The list of books that you will find above are all great resources to help you with your research. The books are all available in the Discovery Cenre library and you are most welcome to come in and access them. There are also some websites listed above that will also be interesting for you, you can even listen to a frog call!
Hi Gabby - Spotted Marsh Frogs may have trouble getting back out of the water in the situation you have described as they do not have enlarged toe pads like the tree frogs, and therefore cannot climb well (pardon the pun). In this case a ramp or some other object that gives them easier option to leave the water would be a good idea.
Hi there, Millie. According to the "Field Guide to Australian Frogs," the larval life of this species is 3-5 months. Hope this helps!
As it says above, a good place is under logs and stones on the edge of swamps, ponds and lagoons. Hope this helps!
Hi Ashley, the vertebral stripe is a common morphological variation in this species and is unrelated to sex. Determining sex in this species is a little tricky, males may have a dark yellowy-green throat patch. Also, if they are calling, you can hear the call here on the Museum Victoria website, then it is definitely a male. If it is breeding season, males will also have dark-brown nuptial pads on fingers.
If it’s a large frog, it’s probably not had trouble eating, unless it has a water retention issue or some other condition. The most important thing is to offer it the right kind of food, and then it’s health should be fine.
Hi Gabi, There are some frog friendly species of fish, but only to a limited extent. The best three species would be Murray River Rainbows, Whiteclouds or Zebra Danios.
Hi Lucy - we checked with one of our keepers on this, and they have said the following:
It is common when you start with any group of animals that some will do better than others. One will be outcompeted by the others and will quickly fall behind. As the others grow, they are stronger and can further outcompete the straggler causing him to fall further behind. Separating the straggler and intensively target feeding him is probably the best thing. Usually when they catch up to the others they can be re-introduced.
Spotted marsh usually do fine at normal room temps. Without more info on the husbandry conditions all we can suggest is maintain all the obvious things such as clean enclosure, fresh water and good food. The crickets should be dusted every second feed or so with a good quality calcium and vitamin supplement.
All this is assuming it is not something more sinister such as a disease or infection. As with all animals if unsure , a visit to the vet may be the best option.
Hope this helps
Hi Lucy, this question was referred to our resident frog expert in our Live Exhibits staff here at Melbourne Museum, who has the following reply for your query:
An accurate response to your questions would require more information, such as - How old/big are the frogs? Are they kept together? Enclosure size and set-up? It is common when you start with any group of animals that some will do better than others. One will be outcompeted by the others and will quickly fall behind. As the others grow, they are stronger and can further outcompete the straggler causing him to fall further behind. Separating the straggler and intensively target feeding him is probably the best thing. Usually when they catch up to the others they can be re-introduced.If it is a recent metamorph it may just not be meant to survive. Even in the best set-ups with the utmost care there can be a certain amount of mortality when raising frogs. This is one reason they produce such large numbers of young. Spotted marsh usually do fine at normal room temps. Without more info on the husbandry conditions all i can suggest is maintain all the usual things such as clean enclosure, fresh water and good food. The crickets should be dusted every second feed or so with a good quality calcium and vitamin supplement such as Repcal and Herptivite.
All this is assuming it is not something more sinister such as a disease or infection. As with all animals if unsure, a visit to the vet may be the best option.
Hi Leanne, as far as we know spotted marsh frogs don’t require a licence but taking them out of the wild is illegal. So the best thing to do is put it back where you found it or in the safest water body nearby. If you have it in captivity legally, ie you bought it from a supplier, then you need to aerate the water with a water stone or pump and change it completely every week if it is a small body of water or every second week if it's a medium amount of volume. You need to feed it pinhead crickets with calcium and reptile/amphibian vitamin powder dusted over the crickets. It also will require a UV light that is attached above the tank and on for maybe 4-5 hours a day. Provide shade for it during this time in case it needs to escape the light or they can burn.
Change the water only with rainwater or with tap water that has sat in a bowl for 20 hours. This allows the chlorine to evaporate. Don’t forget the calcium and vitamin powder on the crickets, its really important or they get brittle bones.
Hi Julie, crickets, cockroaches and mealworms are the standard food for frogs in captivity, but any insects of a suitable size will do. Worms, maggots and waxworms may also be available from pet shops, and it also helps to collect insects from the wild if they’re available. The more variety the better.
Because most people get their insects from pet shops and because there often isn’t a great variety, calcium dusting has become standard to make up for any potential dietary deficiency. The frogs may well survive without it, but it’s an added insurance for healthy frogs.
Hi Julie - we ran this question past our Live Exhibits team here, and they have provided the following response:
The eggs will get sucked up by the filter unless you take steps to protect them. Some breeders move the eggs to a new tank to keep them separate from the adult frogs and from feed crickets, but eggs often don’t do well after moving so it’s generally safer to leave them where they are. You can cover the filter inlet with mesh, or for a more complicated setup you can build a mesh box around it to ensure a constant flow of water.
Once the eggs hatch, the tadpoles should be separated from the adults if you want as many of them to mature as possible.
We hope this helps!
Hi Denise, it’s hard to say what the reasons might be without knowing more about your set-up and what conditions may have changed recently. She may be responding to a change in environmental conditions that may even be too subtle for you to notice. However, as a general rule any change in an animal’s behaviour can mean something is wrong with the animal, so if you’re concerned at all the best option is to take your frog to a vet.
Hi India - here is some information for you from our Live Exhibits staff.
The easiest way to sex Spotted Marsh Frogs (Limnodynastes tasmaniensis) is that the males call audibly. During the breeding season males also have dark-brown nuptial pads on the fingers to aid during amplexis (mating).
When the frogs are still young, both sexes may have white under the chin but males later develop a dark olive patch under the chin. If the frogs were bought as tadpoles six years ago they will all be well and truly mature by now.
This species is particularly variable in colour and pattern, and yellow spots under the legs are nothing to be concerned about.
Thank you for your question, you were correct in asking for help and not releasing the tadpoles! All frogs, tadpoles, and spawn are protected in Victoria, but some species can be kept under licence. The collection of frogs from the wild or the release of frogs to the wild is prohibited. The release of frogs to your backyard or the raising of tadpoles for the purpose of release is also illegal, and this is mainly to stop diseases potentially picked up in captivity from being spread to wild populations.
The Licensing Unit of the Department of Environment and Primary Industries is responsible for the Victorian regulations, if you require more information. The only option open to you is give the tadpoles away to a pet shop. Many pet shops are licensed to trade in frogs and most of these will welcome new stocks of tadpoles, particularly if they are offered for free.
Good luck finding them a new home!
Hi Maite, the Water Dragons will most likely make short work of the frogs when they wake up, so adding the frogs to the dragon enclosure is not a good idea. Also, if they've been reared indoors under warmer conditions they will be more advanced than frogs reared outdoors, and may not be able to cope with the outdoor climate at this time of year. It would be worth waiting a few more weeks until the outside temperature is more consistently above 20 degrees.
Hi Linda, Spotted Marsh Frogs (Limnodynastes tasmaniensis) are generally easy to keep in captivity and the tadpoles should have a high survival rate. The best option is to move the adults out after the tadpoles have hatched and concentrate on keeping the tadpoles healthy. Egg rafts can be moved out of the tank but this does not have a good success rate. Tadpoles need to be cared for in captivity like any other aquatic vertebrate – the water quality needs to be maintained, and aerated, and changed at regular intervals. Tadpoles will eat lettuce leaves, although it’s best to stay away from iceberg and cos lettuce, and it needs to be frozen first to break down the cell walls and allow the tadpoles access to the nutrients. They will also readily eat sliced cucumber. Remember that the more food you put in the tank and the more the tadpoles eat, the more often you’ll need to check the water quality and do water changes.
An important part of taking on the care of any animal is to make sure you have a breeding plan. The plan may be to prevent breeding or allow it, in which case you need to have thought about what to do with the young. This is especially so in a school or kindergarten where children are learning about the proper approach to keeping animals in captivity. And in the case of frogs, it’s very important never to release them into the wild. Chytrid fungus is a devastating disease that’s killing off frog populations around the world, including Australia, and is spread to wild populations through the release of captive frogs or tadpoles.
Hi Sonni, our manager of Live Exhibits has said the only way to ensure the frog is generally healthy and not in pain from the injury is to take it to a vet, in particular a specialist frog vet. Frogs are usually good at fighting off general infections (as opposed to chytrid fungus and other pathogens) and the fact that the frog is behaving normally is a good sign. However, it appears to be a fairly major injury and exposed bones can easily become infected, even after some time has passed, and it can be difficult to say whether an animal is in pain purely be observation alone. These days a number of vets specialise in frog husbandry and care – a search on the internet should find your nearest one.
We love receiving comments, but can’t always respond.
I was also part of this dig in 1988. Used to come from school and join in with a friend. Remember many eucalyptus bottles and one beautiful silk stocking being ...
To read the latest tweets from @museumsvictoria
Follow Museums Victoria on
Did some weeding in our garden. Found a black headed snake with a with a yellow band trying to get away from me. We are living in the Barron Gorge area (Kamerun...