Image for New Tarkine Frog Discovered? – Not Quite!

*Pic: A tropical Green Tree Frog in the Tarkine – Litoria caerulea - Pic Ted Mead

First published June 2

It wouldn’t be the first incident of a mainland frog finding its way to Tasmania, but when I found this tropical Tree Frog in the Tarkine rainforest I knew exactly who it was, and my mind began to instantly wonder on the means of its arrival.

A tropical amphibian is unlikely to survive long in Tasmania given the mean cold winter temperatures, but as global warming progresses the likelihood of some species adapting by the end of the century is a possibility.

Transient creatures from afar however come with issues. Diseases, bacteria, pathogens and parasites are easily transported through this process. Frogs in particular are susceptible to infections, and the Australian tropical Green Tree Frog is already suffering from Chytridiomytosis (chytrid fungus) throughout the Wet Tropic regions.

Frog chytrid fungus was discovered in 1999 and has been listed as a key threatening process under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. It may be responsible for frog population declines in the region dating back to the 1970s.

The spores of the chytrid fungus grow inside the outer layers of the frogs’ skin, resulting in keratin damage that may kill frogs within 10 to 18 days. A lot is still unknown about the exact mechanisms by which this fungus kills a frog, so all precautions should be adopted to ensure it does not find its way into Tasmania.

Tasmania has 11 species of frogs, including 3 endemics. There are two species of tree frogs here, The common Brown Tree Frog (Litoria ewingi) and the endemic Tasmania Tree Frog (Litoria burrowsi)

One of the most common incidents of the accidental importation of amphibians into Tasmania is the arrival of tropical Tree Frogs on bananas. The frog species that usually arrive here are those that live on banana plants.

Considering there probably haven’t been too many truck loads of bananas passing through the Tarkine then the most likely scenario is that this Green Tree frog was a stowaway on a tourist vehicle, and decided to alight its journey when it sensed the rainforest.

Although the humane side of me said let the cute creature roam free, the only responsible action was to hand it over to bio-security and let them deal with it.

Epilogue - It seems this vagabond may find itself back north again in a captive frog park somewhere.

*Ted Mead is a conservationist, naturalist, photographer, adventurer and activist. The primal order of those depends on what project he is working on at the time. Ted has been campaigning for the preservation of the Tarkine’s rainforest since 1987, and optimistically can see the shining light appearing at the end of that tunnel sometime in the next decade.