A mellow yellow frog

June 2010

Odd frog stands out

We would like to know what the name of this frog. What does it eat and why it is yellow?

 

Answer

This is actually a common Green Tree Frog (Litoria caerulea). Green tree frogs mainly eat insects, but they will really take any non-toxic creatures that they can fit into their mouths. They have been known to take mice, small snakes, other frogs and even small bats.

Your specimen is a lutino, the name we give to abnormal yellow specimens. Green animals are coloured with blue and yellow pigment, which combine to create the colour green. If either pigment is missing or reduced, the other colour dominates. Green colouration has obvious camouflage benefits. Lutino green tree frogs are very uncommon, as are bright blue individuals because they stand out more easily.

Interestingly, the scientific name ‘caerulea’ means blue. They were named in 1790, the first Australian frog described to science. Those first specimens collected were shipped back to England pickled in rum. By the time they arrived, the preservative leached out the yellow pigment, resulting in blue frogs!

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