Summer nights after rain are great times to go frogging. Walking around creeks and swamps at night is not everyone’s idea of fun, but with a little preparation and the right equipment, going frogging can open up a nocturnal world of wildlife. A long sleeve top, long pants, boots, insect repellent and a good head torch (with spare batteries) are a must.
Just after heavy rain is the best time to go frogging, especially if night-time temperatures remain high. Frogs and other cryptic animals emerge on such nights to forage, breed and travel. It is a wonderful wildlife experience to be surrounded by hundreds of calling frogs on a good night. In addition to frogs, there is a chance that snakes, spiders and mosquitoes will also be active, hence the long pants, boots, repellent and a good torch.
Identifying frogs can be tricky and it is sometimes easiest to match their call to a known recording. The Frogs of Australia app by Hoskin, Grigg, Stewart and MacDonald contains photographs and recordings of nearly all 238 species of frog described in Australia. By detecting your location, the app can narrow down the frog species that are likely to occur in your area. You can then flick through the recordings or photos to help identification.
A tadpole can take weeks to metamorphose into an adult frog, but after the first decent summer rain, hundreds of adult male frogs are singing their hearts out. Where have they emerged from? The answer is that they have been waiting since last autumn. Some bury themselves deep into the ground or underneath leaf litter at the end of summer, especially along the edges of creeks. Others climb up trees and find shelter in deep hollows with moisture. There, they enter a state of torpor, like hibernation, where they significantly reduce their metabolism during the cooler months. Remarkably, when they emerge after rains, their muscles have not wasted and their digestive system is fully functional.
So if you are out frogging this summer, think about how these comparatively small and sensitive animals have spent up to nine months lying dormant in the same spot waiting for rains. No wonder they are now out eating, breeding and calling.
Article and photos by Deborah Metters