Gloucester's Hilary Kite shares some information about tree frogs

Eastern dwarf tree frog is common in the Mid Coast Council region. Photo supplied by Dr Jodi Rowley
Eastern dwarf tree frog is common in the Mid Coast Council region. Photo supplied by Dr Jodi Rowley

Living as we do on the Bowman River, we were used to having lots of frogs around.

A common resident was the Peron's tree frog and after rain we'd hear green tree frogs croaking in the drainpipes. They would often get into the outside toilet and loved to spend the night in the laundry cupboard, two or three squeezed into a corner.

A particularly cheeky one, would come through the cat flap and liked sitting on the computer keyboard or printer.

But frogs have been much scarcer since the heat and drought conditions experienced last summer.

According to Dr Jodi Rowley, curator of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Biology with the Australian Museum, frogs are very sensitive to environmental change, and are among the most threatened groups of animals on the planet.

In Australia at least four of our 240 known frog species have been lost to extinction, and dozens more are threatened.

Frogs depend on the temperature of their environment to regulate their own temperature and also require water to lay their eggs.

So, the future is even more uncertain, with climate change predicted to increase the frequency of extreme heat events, decrease rainfall across southern parts of the country, and increase the length of the fire season.

Although frogs have lungs, they absorb oxygen through their skin so when there is pollution in the area, a frog absorbs it through its skin.

Frogs are really important to the food chain; they eat a lot of insects and are eaten by a lot of things.

Davies' tree frog. Photo supplied by Dr Jodi Rowley

Davies' tree frog. Photo supplied by Dr Jodi Rowley

There are ways in which we can protect and encourage frogs where we live.

A garden with a variety of plants and a water source, is the best place to start in making tree frogs feel at home.

Dr Rowley suggests that an ideal breeding oasis for frogs can be set up in the backyard using a kids pool, big bowls, or bathtub. Or build a frog hotel with PVC pipes in the ground to create some frog hiding spots.

Local native plants that are tall, like Kangaroo Grass, can give frogs protection from the sun and predators. Your outside lights attract bugs - the frog's favourite food.

Some don'ts when dealing with frogs include: you should not touch frogs as they have sensitive skin and avoid using pesticides, as frogs absorb chemicals through their skin or could eat a poisoned insect and become sick.

Dr Rowley tells me that the data for Mid Coast Local Government Area (LGA), shows almost 2000 records of 34 species recorded so far in FrogID.

A common frog in our area is the Eastern Dwarf Tree Frog - a small frog up to 2.5 centimetre in body length.

It has a bright green or bronze back, with a bronze stripe from the tip of the snout along the sides if the back is green, or small green patches if the back is bronze. Its peak calling time is October to February.

Or when you next visit Barrington Tops, you may be lucky to discover the threatened Davies' tree frog. It's a large frog, reaching up to 6.5cm in body length.

We'd love more recordings from your area.

Dr Jodi Rowley

It has a light brown back, with darker brown mottling and sometimes lime-green patches.

The Davies' tree frog is vulnerable due to a combination of its limited range, habitat loss, introduced fish predators, and the amphibian chytrid fungus.

"We'd would love more recordings from your area," Dr Rowley said.

So, download the free FrogID mobile app, discover which frogs live around your home and help count Australia's frogs. You can also visit www.backyardbuddies.org.au to find out more about attracting frogs to your backyard.

Hilary Kite is a member of the Gloucester Environment Group