What if a tree frog hated trees?
What exactly makes a tree frog a tree frog? Well, the clue is right there in the name. Tree frogs normally spend most of their time up a tree, or at least off the ground in some kind of plant, and only return to the ground and the water to mate and spawn.
But evolution being what it is, of course there are a bunch of tree frog species that don’t spend much time in trees at all, and live their lives on the banks of flowing streams or near deep pools, just like any other frog.
Here (main picture) a juvenile Litoria
citropa basks on the edge of a pool near Woodford, NSW. Bushwalkers and residents know these frogs well, and often have to share swimming spots with them.
Most frogs hide away during the day, but Litoria citropa will often appear as you ford a creek or take a dip. This is a little one, but they can grow to about six centimetres (inset above).
Like the famous green and golden bell frog and a surprisingly large number of other species, these frogs are tree frogs not because they live in trees (since they don’t) but because they’re classified in the genus
frogs are found in New Guinea, Timor, various islands, and of course Australia. The classic white-lipped tree frog ( Litoria infrafrenata) is the largest, but shouldn’t be mistaken for the much more boof-headed green tree frog ( Litoria
caerulea), which is nearly as big. Both of these big green frogs are often found at the top of windowsills or in the tops of downpipes around the house, demonstrating their climbing ability.
Meanwhile, the diminutive Blue Mountains tree frog, and various others, go about their distinctly non-arboreal lives, unaware that our increasingly inadequate classification system has forced us to call them something they almost definitely are not.