Litoria caerulea
Litoria caerulea
(Australian Green Treefrog)
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Litoria caerulea (White, 1790)

Common name: Australian Green Treefrog

Synonyms and Other Names: Pelodryas caerulea, White’s treefrog, dumpy treefrog.

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: A large, green, arboreal hylid (treefrog) with large toepads (disks) for climbing.  Dorsal color ranges from a distinct jade green, blue-green or olive, with occasional white markings or indistinct stripe on sides (Tyler et al., 1984; [Frith] and Frith, 1987; Hoser, 1989; Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999; Cogger, 2000; also illustrated in Mattison, 1987a, b; Davies and Davies, 1997; Lamar, 1997; Krysko et al., 2011: MorphoBank M88446,, Project Number p536). Size is about 100-150 mm (3.9-5.9 in) (Hoser, 1989; Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999; Cogger, 2000). No other indigenous treefrog in Florida reaches such a large adult size or is jade green. Moreover, these would be the only treefrogs in Florida with a distinctive, lumpy or fleshy fold behind each eye, sometimes partially covering the tympanum (eardrum) (Tyler et al., 1984; Hoser, 1989; Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999; Cogger, 2000). Call is a distinct, deep barking or nasal “wark-wark-wark” (Tyler et al., 1984; Hoser, 1989).

Size: snout-vent length of 100-150 mm (3.9-5.9 in).

Native Range: Most of northern and eastern Australia, and southern New Guinea (Tyler et al., 1984; [Frith] and Frith, 1987; Hoser, 1989; Tyler, 1989, 1999; Cogger, 2000).

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Nonindigenous Occurrences: Based on Bartlett (1994), Butterfield et al. (1997) list L. caerulea as established in two counties (unspecified) in southern Florida. Powell et al. (1998), and Bartlett and Bartlett (1999) claim that a “few specimens” have been found in canals in Broward, Collier, Miami-Dade, and Lee Counties, Florida, and Bartlett and Bartlett (1999) further claim to have heard choruses of calling frogs in mid-May without providing evidence of vouchered specimens. Additionally, Meshaka et al. (2004) mention rumors of L. caerulea being found in Sarasota, Sarasota County, Florida, but had no vouchered evidence. On 29 May 2003, an adult L. caerulea was (UF 146573) on a wooden fence at a reptile importer’s facility at 36490 SW 192nd Avenue, Florida City, Miami-Dade County, Florida. This specimen likely escaped from an outdoor screened enclosure that contained dozens of L. caerulea (Krysko et al., 2011). On 6 December 2006 at 1900 h, an adult L. caerulea was collected (photographic voucher UF 152655; MorphoBank M88448) on the underside of a piece of fallen metal gutter about 0.75 m above ground just outside the property of an animal importer's facility at 6450 Stirling Road, Hollywood, Broward County, Florida (Krysko et al. 2011). On 11 September 2007, another adult (72.6 mm SVL) L. caerulea (UF 151734) was collected and another adult was observed inside a PVC pipe on the ground at this same site. On 27 September 2007, an adult L. caerulea was collected (photographic voucher UF 152330) on an aluminum fence just outside the property of the same animal importer's facility in Broward County, Florida (Krysko et al., 2011). On 8 March 2010 at 2200 h, another adult (71.2 mm SVL) L. caerulea was collected (UF 158810) as it was perched on a non-indigenous pothos plant at this same aforementioned site (Krysko et al. 2011). Although L. caerulea has now been found and vouchered multiple times over a period of 6.5 years, there is no current evidence of reproduction and no evidence they are established (Krysko et al., 2011).

At one time an established, nonindigenous population of L. caerulea existed in New Zealand (Bell, 1982; Frost, 1985; Robb, 1986; Tyler, 1999; Kraus, 2009), but has not been seen since the 1950s (Hudson and Thornton, 1994).

Means of Introduction: Pet industry escapees and intentional releases (Bartlett, 1994; Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999; Krysko et al., 2011). Great green treefrog breeding programs in Florida sometimes utilize orchid shade houses to breed frogs for the commercial pet trade (Bartlett, 1994).

Status: Butterfield et al. (1997) and Powell et al. (1998) uncritically list L. caerulea as established in Florida despite the lack of physical evidence. However, there is no evidence of established populations in Florida (Meshaka et al., 2004; Krysko et al., 2011).

Impact of Introduction: Unknown. These large, insectivorous frogs may potentially compete with native frogs and can easily swallow Florida’s native hylids and other small vertebrates.  It is not known if their aquatic tadpoles can impact indigenous aquatic wildlife.

Remarks: The systematics of L. caerulea have been reviewed by Faivovich et al. (2005) and Frost et al. (2006). Some researchers place L. caerulea in the genus Pelodryas (Duellman, 1993; also see comment by Tyler, 1999). In the pet trade these frogs are commonly known as White’s treefrog or dumpy treefrogs (Mattison, 1987a, b; Bartlett, 1994; Davies and Davies, 1997; Lamar, 1997; Wright and Whitaker, 2001). Litoria caerulea is said to breed in mid-May in Florida; however, no evidence was provided (Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999). Females may produce from a few hundred to over 1,000 floating eggs (Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999). These highly adaptable frogs are generalists, remarkably drought tolerant, and can survive in and around a variety of human habitations ([Frith] and Frith, 1987; Hoser, 1989; Bartlett, 1994; Bartlett and Bartlett, 1999; Cogger, 2000). It is unclear if great green treefrogs sold in Florida represent lineages from Australia or New Guinea, but Bartlett and Bartlett (1999) speculate that only Australian L. caerulea could possibly survive South Florida’s occasional freezes

References: (click for full references)

Bartlett, R. D. 1994. Florida’s alien herps.  Reptile & Amphibian Magazine (27):56-73, 103-109.

Bartlett, R. D., and P. P. Bartlett. 1999. A Field Guide to Florida Reptiles and Amphibians. Gulf Publishing Company, Houston. 280 pp.

Bell, B. D. 1982. The amphibian fauna of New Zealand. Pp. 27-92. In: D. G. Newman (editor). New Zealand herpetology. New Zealand Wildlife Service Occasional Bulletin (2):1-495.

Butterfield, B. P., W. E. Meshaka, Jr., and C. Guyer. 1997. Nonindigenous amphibians and reptiles.  Pp. 123-138. In: D. Simberloff, D. C. Schmitz, and T. C. Brown (editors). Strangers in Paradise. Impact and Management of Nonindigenous Species in Florida. Island Press, Washington, D. C. 467 pp.

Cogger, H. G. 2000. Reptiles & Amphibians of Australia. Sixth Edition. Ralph Curtis Publishing, Sanibel Island, Florida. 808 pp.

Davies, R., and V. Davies. 1997. The Reptile & Amphibian Problem Solver. [North American Edition.] Tetra Press, Blacksburg, Virginia. 208 pp.

Duellman, W. E. 1993. Amphibian species of the world: Additions and corrections. University of Kansas Museum of Natural History, Special Publication (21):1-372.

Faivovich, J., C. B. F. Haddad, P. C. A. Garcia, D. R. Frost, J. A. Campbell, and W. C. Wheeler. 2005. Systematic review of the frog family Hylidae, with special reference to Hylinae: Phylogenetic analysis and taxonomic revision. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 294:1-240.

[Frith], C., and D. Frith. 1987. Australian Tropical Reptiles & Frogs. Tropical Australian Graphics, ‘Prionodura’ Paluma via Townsville, Queensland. 71 pp.

Frost, D. R. (editor). 1985. Amphibian Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographical Reference. Allen Press, Inc. and The Association of Systematics Collections. Lawrence, Kansas. 732 pp.

Frost, D. R., T. Grant, J. Faivovich, R. H. Bain, A. Haas, C. F. B. Haddad, R. O. De Sá, A. Channing, M. Wilkinson, S. C. Donnellan, C. J. Raxworthy, J. A. Campbell, B. L. Blotto, P. Moler, R. C. Drewes, R. A. Nussbaum, J. D. Lynch, D. M. Green, and W. C. Wheeler. 2006. The amphibian tree of life. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 297:1-370 + Fig. 50 foldout.

Hoser, R. T. 1989. Australian Reptiles & Frogs. Pierson & Co, Sydney. 238 pp.

Hudson, B., and T. J. Thornton. 1994. Reptiles & Amphibians in New Zealand: Handbook for Species Identification. Print Media Specialists, Auckland. 50 pp.

Kraus, F. 2009. Alien Reptiles and Amphibians. A Scientific Compendium and Analysis. Springer, [Dordrecht]. 563 pp. + CD-ROM.

Krysko, K. L., J. P. Burgess, M. R. Rochford, C. R. Gillette, D. Cueva, K. M. Enge, L. A. Somma, J. L. Stabile, D. C. Smith, J. A. Wasilewski, G. N. Kieckhefer III, M. C. Granatosky, and S. V. Nielsen. 2011. Verified non-indigenous amphibians and reptiles in Florida from 1863 through 2010: Outlining the invasion process and identifying invasion pathways and status. Zootaxa 3028:1-64.

Lamar, W. W. 1997. The World’s Most Spectacular Reptiles & Amphibians. World Publications, Tampa. 208 pp.

Mattison, C. 1987a. Frogs & Toads of the World. Facts on File, Inc, New York. 191 pp.

Mattison, C. 1987b. The Care of Reptiles and Amphibians in Captivity. Revised Edition. Blandford Press, London. 317 pp.

Meshaka, W. E., Jr., B. P. Butterfield, and J. B. Hauge. 2004. The Exotic Amphibians and Reptiles of Florida. Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, Florida. 155 pp.

Powell, R., J. T. Collins, and E. D. Hooper Jr. 1998. A Key to Amphibians & Reptiles of the Continental United States and Canada. University Press of Kansas, Lawrence. 131 pp. 

Robb, J. 1986. New Zealand Amphibians and Reptiles in Colour. Revised [Edition]. William Collins Publishers Ltd, Auckland. 128 pp.

Tyler, M. J. 1989. Australian Frogs. Viking O’Neil, Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Ringwood. 220 pp.

Tyler, M. J. 1999. Distribution patterns of amphibians in the Australo-Papuan region. Pp. 541-556. In: W. E. Duellman (editor). Patterns of Distribution of Amphibians. A Global Perspective. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. 633 pp.

Tyler, M. J., L. A. Smith, and R. E. Johnstone. 1984. Frogs of Western Australia. Western Australian Museum, Perth. 109 pp.

Wright, K. M., and B. R. Whitaker. 2001. Amphibian Medicine and Captive Husbandry. Krieger Publishing Company, Malabar, Florida. 499 pp.

Author: Somma, L.A.

Revision Date: 10/26/2011

Citation Information:
Somma, L.A., 2017, Litoria caerulea (White, 1790): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL,, Revision Date: 10/26/2011, Access Date: 9/19/2017

This information is preliminary or provisional and is subject to revision. It is being provided to meet the need for timely best science. The information has not received final approval by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is provided on the condition that neither the USGS nor the U.S. Government shall be held liable for any damages resulting from the authorized or unauthorized use of the information.

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Citation information: U.S. Geological Survey. [2017]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [9/19/2017].

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