Litoria aurea
Litoria aurea
(Green and Golden Bell Frog)
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Litoria aurea (Lesson, 1827)

Common name: Green and Golden Bell Frog

Taxonomy: available through www.itis.govITIS logo

Identification: The green and golden bell frog is a large, smooth-skinned, hylid (treefrog) averaging about 85 mm (3.4 in) head-body length (Robb, 1986; Hoser, 1989; Cogger, 2000).  Adults are a dull olive to bright emerald green color dorsally, with irregular blotches of brown or golden-bronze, and a cream, gold or yellow dorsolateral skin fold (Hoser, 1989; Cogger, 2000).  The limbs are generally brown-bronze and only the hind feet are webbed (Cogger, 2000).  Toepads (disks) are present for climbing (Cogger, 2000).  They resemble no other frog in Hawaii.  The call of male L. aurea is a load, guttural "craw-awk, crawk, crok, crok" (Hoser, 1989; Cogger, 2000).  Tadpoles of L. aurea are illustrated in Bauer and Sadlier (2000).  Adult L. aurea have been illustrated by numerous authorities (Robb, 1980, 1986; Heusser, 1984; Gill, 1986; Hoser, 1989; Hudson and Thornton, 1994; Gill and Whitaker, 1996; Barker et al., 1997; Lamar, 1997; Zweifel, 1998; Bauer and Sadlier, 2000; Cogger, 2000).

Size: 85 mm average head-body length

Native Range: Litoria aurea is indigenous to eastern and southeastern New South Wales, and extreme eastern Victoria, Australia (Frost, 1985; Hoser, 1989; Barker et al., 1997; Tyler, 1999; Cogger, 2000).

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Nonindigenous Occurrences: In the U.S., the green and golden bell frog was introduced to three localities on Oahu, Hawaii, in 1929 (McKeown, 1996).

Other nonindigenous localities include New Caledonia (Tyler, 1982; Bauer and Sadlier, 2000), New Zealand (Robb, 1980, 1986; Bell, 1982, 1983; Tyler, 1982; Gill, 1986; Hudson and Thornton, 1994; Gill and Whitaker, 1996), and New Hebrides (Tyler, 1982).

Means of Introduction: Litoria aurea was intentionally introduced to Oahu, Hawaii, by E. M. Ehrhorn in 1929 (McKeown, 1996).  Additionally, this frog was intentionally introduced to New Zealand (multiple introductions: Bell, 1982).

Status: Hawaiian populations of L. aurea failed to become established (Smith and Kohler, 1978; McKeown, 1996).  Litoria aurea is established in New Caledonia (Tyler, 1982, 1999; Bauer and Sadlier, 2000), New Zealand (Tyler, 1982, 1999; Bell, 1983; Robb, 1986; Hudson and Thornton, 1994; Gill and Whitaker, 1996), and New Hebrides (Tyler, 1982).  In its native Australia, the green and golden bell frog is endangered (Bauer and Sadlier, 2000).

Impact of Introduction: None in Hawaii.  Litoria aurea readily eats native lizards, mollusks, and insects in New Caledonia, but its full impact has not been established (Bauer and Sadlier, 2000).   The voracious, carnivorous, and even cannibalistic appetite of adults gives these frogs a tremendous potential for negatively impacting any nonindigenous environment to which they are introduced.

Remarks: The taxonomy of L. aurea has been reviewed or summarized by Tyler (1982, 1989) and Frost (1985). Tyler (1989) has summarized much of the natural history literature on L. aurea.  Litoria aurea is a mostly aquatic frog that prefers vegetation in or at the edges of streams, swamps, and ponds (natural, ornamental and farm) (Robb, 1986; Hoser, 1989; Bauer and Sadlier, 2000; Cogger, 2000).  They are mostly nocturnal but also active by day, rarely climbing up vegetation (Robb, 1986; Barker et al., 1997; Bauer and Sadlier, 2000; Cogger, 2000).  Eggs and tadpoles are aquatic (Hoser, 1989; Bauer and Sadlier, 2000; Cogger, 2000).  Adult green and golden bell frogs are voracious carnivores that eat a wide variety of invertebrates, and larger vertebrates including snakes, lizards and frogs (Bauer and Sadlier, 2000; Cogger, 2000).

References: (click for full references)

Gill, B. 1986. Collins Handguide to the Frogs and Reptiles of New Zealand. William Collins Publishers Ltd, Auckland. 112 pp.

Gill, B., and T. [A. H.] Whitaker. 1996. New Zealand Frogs & Reptiles. David Bateman, Auckland. 112 pp.

Heusser, H. R. 1984. Higher anurans. Pp. 397-456. In: B. Grzimek (editor). Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. Vol. 5. Fishes II and Amphibians. English [Reprint] Edition. Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, New York. 555 pp.

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.

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

McKeown, S. 1996. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians in the Hawaiian Islands. Diamond Head Publishing, Inc., Los Osos, California. 172 pp.

Robb, J. 1980. New Zealand Amphibians and Reptiles in Colour. William Collins Publishers Ltd, Auckland. 128 pp.

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

Smith, H. M., and A. J. Kohler. 1978. A survey of herpetological introductions in the United States and Canada. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 1977 80(1-2):1-24.

Tyler, M. J. 1982. The hylid frog genus Litoria Tschudi: An overview. Pp. 103-112. In: D. G. Newman (editor). New Zealand herpetology. New Zealand Wildlife Service Occasional Bulletin (2):1-495.

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.

Zweifel, R. G. 1998. Frogs & toads. Pp. 76-105. In: H. G. Cogger and R. G. Zweifel (editors). Encyclopedia of Amphibians & Reptiles. Second Edition. Academic Press, San Diego. 240 pp.

Author: Somma, L.A.

Revision Date: 6/27/2002

Citation Information:
Somma, L.A., 2018, Litoria aurea (Lesson, 1827): U.S. Geological Survey, Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database, Gainesville, FL,, Revision Date: 6/27/2002, Access Date: 1/20/2018

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. [2018]. Nonindigenous Aquatic Species Database. Gainesville, Florida. Accessed [1/20/2018].

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