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The Zoo has two White's tree frogs. They were captive hatched in 2007 and arrived at the Zoo on June 14, 2008. One frog is on exhibit in the Reptile and Amphibian House; the second frog, named Dalby, is housed off-exhibit and used for education programs.
Reptile and Amphibian House
The skin of a White's tree frog has a waxy cuticle that helps prevent water evaporation allowing the frog to survive in arid conditions. The frog's skin has many perforations of skin glands that also keep it moist. White's tree frogs are bright green in color or a mixture of green and bronze, often with scattered white spots on the sides. The ventral surface is white. Often white stripes or series of spots are found from the angle of the mouth to the forearm. There is smooth skin on the upper surface, but the skin is coarse and granular on the sides and ventral surface. The parotid gland is large, and it has a noticeable tympanum. Its pupil is horizontal and the iris is pale. The upper part of the lower eyelid is transparent and colorless. Its fingers are one-third webbed with the second finger longer than the first. Its toes are about one-half webbed.
White's tree frogs live in rainforests but can also survive in arid areas. They also can be found in gardens and frequently around human habitation in water tanks, troughs, windmills, down-pipes and even toilet bowls. These frogs like to nest in tree hollows during the day.
In zoos, the average life span of a White's tree frog is 16 years. One is recorded to have lived 20 years in a zoo. In the wild, their life span tends to be much shorter.
This frog breeds during the wet season in the summer. In the rainforest, it would not be unusual to find creeks and ponds with tree frog tadpoles in them. The White's tree frog lays a large amount of eggs, generally ranging from 150-300. The eggs are laid in a mass of sloppy jelly, which serves to protect them. Eggs are quickly hatched to produce free-living, aquatic tadpoles. The maturation period, during which the tadpole metamorphoses into a frog,usually takes two to three weeks.
Males have a loud rasping call. This is often magnified by the echo chamber effect that occurs when the call is made from the hollow limbs of trees. During the dry season the frogs become dormant after surrounding themselves in a cocoon of skin and mucus. The White's tree frog's predators include birds of prey, snakes and lizards.
White's tree frogs are arboreal, or tree dwellers, and largely nocturnal. They have large adhesive pads on their fingers and toes. This makes them excellent climbers. They have very good balancing skills and are able to sit on different surfaces including wet vertical ones. White's tree frogs are also strong jumpers.
In the wild, White's tree frogs eat a broad range of insects, snails, worms, spiders and other small animals. In the Zoo, they eat pink mice and crickets.
The White's tree frog is found in the provinces of Western Australia (northern portion), Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and New South Wales. The frog is also found in southern New Guinea.
Conservation at a Glance
To learn more about the conservation efforts at the Philadelphia Zoo, click here.
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