Guests &pests

Keep an eye out for this ag­ile cutie as he en­ters peak breed­ing sea­son, says LEONARD CRONIN

Gardening Australia - - GARDENING ON YOUR -

Adorned with beau­ti­ful emer­ald green spots, flashy yel­low and black thighs and a dis­tinc­tive cross-pat­terned eye, the Peron’s tree frog is one of Aus­tralia’s most com­mon climb­ing frogs. Demon­strat­ing how un­afraid of hu­mans th­ese frogs are, one has taken up res­i­dence un­der the rim of the toi­let bowl in our home. Un­fazed by the oc­ca­sional wa­ter­fall ef­fect, it has been there for weeks, ad­ver­tis­ing its pres­ence with very loud noc­tur­nal cra-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ahk calls.

Like many am­phib­ians, Peron’s tree frogs change colour very quickly, de­pend­ing on the tem­per­a­ture, amount of light, back­ground colour and their mood. By day they are usu­ally a pale grey-green to al­most white, but at night they turn red­dish brown, with emer­ald-green flecks.

They are also ca­pa­ble of grav­ity-de­fy­ing feats to climb up win­dow panes, smooth tree trunks or slip­pery water fea­tures. Un­like geckos, whose dry feet rely on molec­u­lar bonds to hang up­side down, tree frogs use a com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors to ad­here to smooth sur­faces – a sticky mu­cus sur­rounds tightly packed nanopil­lars on their large toe pads.

Th­ese friendly frogs grow to about 5cm and eat a va­ri­ety of fly­ing, crawl­ing and scut­tling bugs that may be wreak­ing havoc around your gar­den. Gar­den lights at­tract in­sects, cre­at­ing lit­tle froggy restau­rants, and if food, water and shel­ter are avail­able, th­ese frogs will hap­pily live in and around your gar­den, lay­ing their eggs in pools or even fish tanks.

Oc­to­ber and Novem­ber are their peak breed­ing months, and on warm nights males are ac­tive for hours, climb­ing trees and walls to make their calls carry as far as pos­si­ble, of­ten us­ing down­pipes to am­plify the sound. The loud­est, most an­noy­ing males at­tract the most fe­males, and if they keep you awake at night, take com­fort in the knowl­edge that their pres­ence in­di­cates that your neigh­bour­hood is a healthy frog habi­tat.

Len gar­dens in the North­ern Rivers, New South Wales

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