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White's Tree Frog

Very docile and not afraid of humans! (other names: Litoria caerulea, Dumpy Tree Frog, Smiling Tree Frog)

White's Tree Frog
origin:Australia and Southern New Guinea
life expectancy:16 years or more
size: Large
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History [ edit ]

The White's Tree Frog (Litoria caerulea), nicknamed “Dumpy Tree Frog” or  “Smiling Tree Frog”,  is an arboreal frog native to areas with a warm, wet tropical climate like the northern and eastern regions of Australia and southern New Guinea and is one of the 131 species belonging to the genus Litoria. This frog was named after the first scientist (John White, a British Surgeon) to describe the species, around 1790. The nickname “Dumpy Tree Frog” derives from the large fatty folds of skin these frogs develop on their heads. Indeed they are quite voracious and have a tendency to become obese. “Smiling Frog” comes from their mouth appearance. The White's Tree Frog lives mostly in trees, rather then in or near water. Their favourite environment is moist forests but their rubbery skin helps them to retain water and live in drier milieus. During the dry season they taking refuge in tree hollows or cover themselves in a cocoon to keep moist. They are very adaptable and it is not uncommon to find them in agricultural and suburban areas, near human dwellings, around water tanks and cisterns. During dry seasons some have been found on windows, eating insects, or even inside the houses looking for water and food. These frogs’ skin secretions have antibacterial and antiviral properties. Some scientists claim that they also segregate some peptides that destroy the HIV without affecting health. The White's Tree Frogs are very docile, easy to keep and are not afraid of humans, which has made them one of the most favoured exotic pets throughout the world.
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Appearance [ edit ]

The White's Tree Frog is a rather large arboreal frog with a shiny, wax-like, skin that changes its colour depending on the temperature and the environment. The colour ranges from light blue to emerald green or almost grey, the ventral surface being white and rough in texture. Some have irregularly shaped spots on their back, which increase in number as the animals grow old. These frogs have long limbs, large toe pads and suction cup-like discs at the end of their toes to help them grip while climbing trees. They can virtually climb any vertical surface, including glass. The tympanum is visible and the eyes are golden with horizontal pupils, which is typical of the Litoria genus. Males distinguish from females by a greyish wrinkled vocal sac underneath their throat while the female’s throat is white. Another distinctive feature of the males is the dark "nuptial” pads they develop on the inside of the thumb, during breeding season, to help gripping the female during mating. Females are slightly bigger than males. White's Tree Frogs have nearly complete webbing between their toes and partial webbing between their fingers. Although they have lungs, they also absorb oxygen through their waxy skin. The waxy coating helps keeping the moisture necessary for the oxygen efficient absorption and also allows these frogs to survive in drier environmental conditions.
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Behaviour [ edit ]

White's Tree Frogs are very docile and sedentary frogs and can become quite tame if handled regularly. They are nocturnal but they can show some activity during the day. However they spend most of the day time sleeping in the cooler and moister areas. Males call from high positions in the trees For most of the year, but during the breeding season they may call from lower places like rocks situated near water or other slightly elevated points. The males call not only to attract mates but for other reasons which are not yet quite clear. One possible reason for calling outside the mating season would be to indicate their location. When in danger they emit an ear-piercing distress call. They are extremely voracious carnivorous, feeding mainly from insects and spiders but they will also welcome small mammals and even smaller frogs. They catch small prey by propelling their sticky tongues like many other frogs but, for larger prey, they swoop and than use their hands to force the prey into their mouths. They are easy to take care once their diet is broad and they have a strong resistance to disease. Providing they are not overfed and they have a clean, dependable water source, they will live long years.
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Handling [ edit ]

Like all amphibians White's Tree Frogs can absorb chemicals through their rather sensitive skin. Therefore, they should be handled only after thoroughly hand washing with warm water and careful rinsing. The use of rubber gloves will prevent that the natural oils and salts found on human skin be damaging to the frog. The gloves should be wet.
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Reproduction [ edit ]

White's Tree Frogs reach sexual maturity in their second year. During mating amplexus males grip the females from behind with the help of a “nuptial” black pad they develop on their thumb. Mating can last for days while the female lays her eggs. The female generally lays 200 to 1000 eggs twice each breeding season. The eggs are expelled into a cloud of sperm in still water, the clump of eggs then sinking to the bottom substrate. The eggs hatch within 28 to 36 hours. The water must be 5–50 cm (2-19 in) deep and 28–38C (82-100F) and for the eggs and tadpoles to survive. The tadpoles develop into froglets in two to three weeks. The froglets reach adult size in four to five months.
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Health [ edit ]

White's Tree Frogs are very hardy providing they are given a suitable habitat and are not overfed.
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Housing [ edit ]

Habitat: 95 litre (25 US gallon; 21 UK gallon) hexagonal tank per frog with a tight fitting lid. Frogs can be kept together when they are of the same size. Otherwise the smaller frogs may be prey to the larger ones.

Substrate:  Bark (larger pieces), large sized gravel, soil and peat.  The tank can also be lined with paper or paper towels to facilitate cleaning but this way keeping appropriate humidity is more difficult.
 
Decoration: Sturdy branches, large pieces of cork bark, for climbing and foliage to allow the frog to hide during daylight hours. Live, sturdy, plants can also be used.

Temperature: Gradient by means of a basking light or heater outside the tank. Day: 27-30 C (80-86°F) Night: 22-25 C (72-78 F).

Lighting: No special lighting required though some exposure to UVB will be OK. A regular light-dark cycle (for instance 12 hour) is necessary. Use of a nocturnal bulb may be needed.
 
Humidity: 50-60%. Tank misted daily with dechlorinated or bottled water. Tap water should stand 24-48 hours or should be treated with a dechlorination product. A dish of water should also be provided, large enough to allow frogs to soak, but not too deep so that they do not drown. They are arboreal and not very good swimmers.

Habitat Cleaning: Tank Spot cleaned every day, wiping off waste matter from the plants and bottom of the tank. Change water in the dish daily or at least every other day. Substrate should be taken out and washed as needed.  If tank is lined with paper this should be changed often. Thorough tank cleaning plain hot water as needed.
When disinfection is necessary, tank should be very well rinsed and dried to prevent absorption by the frog of chemical residues.

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Diet [ edit ]

Moths, locusts, crickets, cockroaches and earthworms. Pinkie mice on occasion and only to fully grown frogs. Calcium supplement every fourth or fifth meal. Feed at night every 2-3 days (adults), daily (juveniles less than 3.8cm or 1.5in).
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Care Level [ edit ]

Easy. Good choice for beginners.

Cautions: Keep in an aquarium with a tight lid. Always wash and rinse your hands before and after handling a frog.

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