The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Litoria raniformis
Conservation status in NSW:
Profile last updated:
01 Dec 2017
One of the largest frog species in Australia, these animals may reach up to 104 mm in length, with females usually larger than males. Animals vary greatly in colour and pattern but are typically olive to bright emerald green, with irregular gold, brown, black or bronze spotting with a pale green stripe down the centre of the back. Undersides are white and coarsely granular, although during the breeding season males may become yellow or dark grey/black under the throat. The groin and posterior of the thighs are turquoise blue. They lack webbing on their fingers but the toes are almost fully webbed and toe discs are small and approximately equal in width to the digits. The male’s call is a growling, engine-like “waaa waaa waaa”, heard during the breeding season.
In NSW the species was once distributed along the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers and their tributaries, the southern slopes of the Monaro district and the central southern tablelands as far north as Tarana, near Bathurst. Currently, the species is known to exist only in isolated populations in the Coleambally Irrigation Area, the Lowbidgee floodplain and around Lake Victoria. A few yet unconfirmed records have also been made in the Murray Irrigation Area in recent years. The species is also found in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia, where it has also become endangered.
Habitat and ecology
- Usually found in or around permanent or ephemeral Black Box/Lignum/Nitre Goosefoot swamps, Lignum/Typha swamps and River Red Gum swamps or billabongs along floodplains and river valleys. They are also found in irrigated rice crops, particularly where there is no available natural habitat.
- Breeding occurs during the warmer months and is triggered by flooding or a significant rise in water levels. The species has been known to breed anytime from early spring through to late summer/early autumn (Sept to April) following a rise in water levels.
- During the breeding season animals are found floating amongst aquatic vegetation (especially cumbungi or Common Reeds) within or at the edge of slow-moving streams, marshes, lagoons, lakes, farm dams and rice crops.
- Tadpoles require standing water for at least 4 months for development and metamorphosis to occur but can take up to 12 months to develop.
- Outside the breeding season animals disperse away from the water and take shelter beneath ground debris such as fallen timber and bark, rocks, grass clumps and in deep soil cracks.
- Prey includes a variety of invertebrates as well as other small frogs, including young of their own species.
Regional distribution and habitat
Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.
- Cobar Peneplain
- Murray Darling Depression
- NSW South Western Slopes
- South Eastern Highlands
- Removal of ground cover, fallen timber, leaf litter, etc as a result of either fire, direct clearing, overgrazing, trampling, etc.
- Lack of appropriate flooding regime i.e. flooding at the wrong time of the year, infrequent flooding e.g. once every 5 or 10 years, waterbodies not lasting long enough for tadpoles to develop, etc.
- Alteration to natural flooding regimes from irrigation and river regulation, which may either divert water away from previously flooded wetlands or cause some areas to become permanently flooded and no longer receive rising water levels to trigger breeding.
- Predation on eggs and tadpoles from exotic fish species such as carp, goldfish and mosquito fish.
- Possible introduction of amphibian diseases such as Chytrid fungus, which is a waterborne pathogen.
- Introduction of chemicals (pesticides, defoliants, etc) either into waterbodies or directly onto animals.
- Loss of aquatic and/or terrestrial habitat through draining of waterbodies or clearing for agricultural development.
- Degradation of aquatic and/or terrestrial habitat from pollution or salinisation of waterbodies, removal of shelter sources, removal of aquatic vegetation (e.g. from farm dams), disturbance to waterside vegetation and decreased water quality from stock and pest animals (e.g. pigs rooting up vegetation and muddying up the water).
- Road kills, particularly during wet weather when animals are dispersing throughout the landscape and crossing high traffic areas such as The Kidman Way through the Coleambally Irrigation Area.
A targeted strategy for managing this species has been developed under the Saving Our Species program; click here for details. For more information on the Saving Our Species program click here
Activities to assist this species
- Remove exotic fish species from waterbodies and prevent their introduction into new waterbodies. Where southern bell frogs occur in these situations, seek further advice from DEC.
- Eradicate pest species eg. pigs that may be degrading potential southern bell frog habitat.
- Avoid fires around waterbodies and through ephemeral wetlands when dry.
- Maintain ground cover i.e.. fallen timber & bark, rocks, leaf litter, vegetation, etc. particularly within a 1km radius of permanent waterbodies and throughout ephemeral wetlands.
- Ensure that flooding of wetlands and other waterbodies occurs regularly each year, preferably during spring and early summer and that water remains on the ground for at least 3 or 4 months for tadpoles to develop.
- Prevent diversion of water away from wetlands or permanent flooding of ephemeral waterbodies.
- No clearing of potential terrestrial habitat or infilling of waterbodies in which Southern Bell Frogs may occur.
- Maintain at least some emergent aquatic and waterside vegetation in and around waterbodies where the southern bell frog may occur eg. farm dams.
- Prevent overgrazing of terrestrial and aquatic habitats. If possible, exclude stock from waterbodies or at least part thereof.
- Ensure that no chemicals eg. pesticides, defoliants, etc. enter waterbodies or are sprayed near Southern Bell Frog populations. Where spraying of aquatic weeds is required, use an appropriate chemical that is approved for use near aquatic environments, spray by hand so that the operator can look for frogs whilst they are spraying and abort the operation if any are found.
- Minimise the potential spread of waterborne pathogens between frog populations or waterbodies by ensuring that all footwear and survey equipment is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected in between visiting sites (for survey personnel, researchers, etc who may be visiting a number of bell frog populations).
- Barker J., Grigg G. and Tyler M.J. (1995) A Field Guide to Australian frogs. (Surrey Beatty and Sons, Sydney)
- Cogger, H.G. (2000) Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. 6th Edition. (Reed New Holland, Sydney)
- Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW) (2005) Draft Recovery Plan for the Southern Bell Frog (Litoria raniformis). NSW DEC, Sydney.
- NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. (2003) Predation by Gambusia holbrooki – the Plague Minnow. (Threat Abatement Plan, NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Sydney.)
- NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service. (2008) Hygiene protocol for the control of disease in frogs. (NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Sydney.)
- Robinson, M. (1993) A Field Guide to the Frogs of Australia. Reed Books, Sydney.
How to Care For Bell Frogs
How to care for the Australian green and golden bell frog/southern bell frogs.
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