Freddo and Gronk are Tasmanian Tree Frogs that form part of the male contingent of the pilot captive breeding program at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. Despite introducing these handsome fellows to the female frogs, wildlife keeper Bernadette Camus is still waiting to see tadpoles. The key to this mystery may be the cold and rainy conditions in which these frogs breed in the wild. Initially field workers thought that the species bred in the spring, but discovered to their great discomfort that monitoring these frogs in the wild has involved nights of wading in remote ponds in the chilly depths of the Tasmanian winter.
Conservation managers are looking to establish a captive population of Tasmanian Tree Frogs as this species is only found in Tasmania and is at significant risk as it is highly susceptible to a fungal disease caused by the Amphibian Chytrid fungus. Chytrid has caused extinctions worldwide and is believed to be one of the main threats that is contributing to the amphibian’s worrying status – the animal group with the most species under threat of extinction, currently one third of all species.
NRM South have provided funding to Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary to help find the key for reproduction in the Tasmanian Tree Frog. Bernadette is also working with staff from Tooronga Zoo, who run the breeding program for the Southern Corroboree Frog, another species under threat from the Chytrid fungus. Their advice has included how to set up the current quarantine ‘Frog Lodge’ at Bonorong. It is essential that the ‘Frog Lodge’ has strict quarantine procedures to keep the frogs Chytrid-free as this pathogen is widespread in areas of northern and eastern Tasmania. With funding from NRM South the ‘Frog Lodge’ will be modified to allow manipulation of temperature and creation of artificial rainfall patterns.
The interior of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is still Chytrid-free and is an important refuge from this disease. Chytrid can be spread by moving infected frogs, tadpoles, soil, mud and water into Chytrid-free areas. While the team at Bonorong are trying to work out what gets these frogs in the mood for love, it is even more important for the survival of this species for the rest of us to Check, Clean, (Disinfect), Dry our gear before spending time in their habitat to avoid introducing this devastating disease.
For more information on how to Check, Clean, (Disinfect), Dry gear for your favourite activities, visit our biosecurity webpage.
Images: Bernadette Camus.