Thursday, 05 November 2009 13:06

The tree frog

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During September our garden can become quite a noisy place thanks to the croaking of tree frogs. These endearing amphibians are very common in this region and are welcome in the garden.

Hyla arborea, the common tree frog, is actually an endangered species in Western Europe and is nearly extinct in Belgium. It inhabits well-illuminated, broad-leafed and mixed forests, bushlands, gardens, vineyards, orchards, parks, lake shores and stream banks. Dark and dense forests are avoided.For their small size – typically only 20 – 30 mm – they can be very loud in the breeding season. They also croak when the weather turns humid and thus are often considered as barometers to signal approaching rain. They manage to climb trees, leaves and smooth surfaces using circular disc on their toes. The photograph shows one sitting on the table on our terrace – surely an unwise resting place for a frog in this country !

The male differs from the female by having a large guttural vocal sac (visible externally) which is distinguished by darker skin folds and wrinkles on the throat. During the day, H. arborea usually sit on the stems and broad leaves of trees, bushes and large herbaceous vegetation. The frog is active primarily in the evening and at night, when it comes down to the ground from vegetation to forage and to rehydrate. Its ability for long leaps makes it possible to forage on fast flying insects, which comprise a considerable proportion of its food.

 

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