Frogs and Snakes

Frogs turn up in unusual places:

This is a female Stony-creek Frog (Litoria jungguy):



This  Common Green Tree-frog (Litoria caerulea) spent  the long dry spell in the overflow of an outdoor basin, quite safe from a butcherbird’s beak or a snake’s gaping jaws.

frog in a hole

Another frog often hopped  back to its hiding place underneath our veranda roof via the birdbath on the veranda railing, leaving behind tell-tales signs :

frog splash


After the first substantial showers, our pond hosted several frog orgies. This pair of Barred Frogs (Mixophyes coggeri) was still active after sunrise. The female was keen to get rid of the male, telling him with several deep, short grunts to release his grip on her . This is the only occasion when one hears female frogs calling.

Barred Frogs Feb2015_1

She was probably keen to seek shelter for the day, and rightly so: this large Keelback entered the pond just moments later. When I saw it emerge from the water and disappear into the forest, it did not sport a big bulging belly!

The Keelback (Tropidonophis mairii) is the only Australian snake which can eat the toxic cane toads without ill effect. Its ancestry lies in Asia, where snakes had a long time to adapt to poisonous toads.

Keelback Snake 2015_1

Named for its strongly keeled scales, which give it a “rough”-looking skin, it is easy to identify. The only other snake, which looks similar is the highly venomous Rough-scaled snake (Tropidechis carinatus), which fortunately lives at higher altitudes in North Queensland, and not around Kuranda. You can tell them apart by having a close look at the scales between their eyes and nostrils (preferably by taking a photo and zooming in, rather than approaching the snake too closely!).

Most colubrid snakes, like the Keelback, have a loreal scale between eye and nostril,

Keelback 2015_1


whereas in venomous elapid snakes (to which Death Adders, Taipans and Brown Snakes belong), the scale containing the nostril touches the scale which is near the eye:

Rough-scaled Snake2015_1



Frogs, Frogs, Frogs, April 2012

It appears the wet season is over; it was a strange one this time: mostly very dry, then more than 1000mm in March and April.

During the few wetter nights in October and December, we had dozens of Dainty Green Tree Frogs (Litoria gracilenta) sitting in the shrubs and Heliconias around the pond, calling all night and laying many clutches of eggs.

One night more  Common Tree Frogs (Litoria caerulea) than ever  called and mated

and a few Northern Barred Frogs (Mixophyes coggeri) joined the chorus.


There were so many frogs everywhere, that this one only found a place to sit on top of another frog:

Now that it is drier, it is the time of the Barred Frogs:

They do not like flooding rains, laying their eggs not into the water, but propelling  them onto rocks along the creek and our pond with their hindlegs. The tadpoles hatch after about a week and drop into the water, where they grow into very large (50-60mm) tadpoles.  We have seen an adult frog, that was 120mm long. They spend their lives on the forest floor, being perfectly camouflaged among the leaf litter. They do not hop away when approached and we have to manually move the odd one sitting in the driveway.