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