Motorbike Frog

Litoria moorei (Copland 1957)

Species Info Card | Updated 3 years ago


The south-west's most commonly encountered frog. A large, powerfully built frog with relatively long hind limbs. Back colour is extremely variable ranging from green with gold mottling (after basking in sunlight) to an almost uniform dark brown (colder conditions). The belly is pale green to light brown. The end of the fingers and toes have obvious discs and the toes are partially webbed. Males have black 'nuptial' pads on outer surface of thumbs during breeding season. Length up to 7.5 cm.

Breeding Biology

Males often call from floating vegetation or within reed beds. They may also call from more open areas around dams or from the branches of trees. Breeding season begins in early spring and extends well into the summer months.

A large number of eggs are laid in clumps attached to floating or slightly submerged vegetation. Eggs are held together by a transparent jelly. Tadpoles usually grow to 8 cm. The body is a uniform dark brown above with a silvery metallic sheen below. Intestinal coils are not visible through the body wall. Tail fins are deep with flecks of dark pigments and tail tip is distinctly pointed. Tadpoles usually hide in vegetation in permanent water. Early stage tadpoles sometimes swim in 'schools'. Metamorphosis can occur late in summer (March-April).

Tadpoles of this species may skip metamorphosis in deep cool ponds, grow to enormous sizes (as large as 14 cm) and emerge as froglets after 14 months as a tadpole.

Habitat

Swamps, lakes, farm dams, garden ponds and along vegetated watercourses.

Etymology

Named after John Moore, pioneer of Australian frog studies in the 1950s.

General

Although sometimes referred to as a 'tree frog', this species is primarily terrestrial or ground-dwelling. However, Motorbike Frogs are also good climbers and can be found perching in low trees or shrubs and among rocks. They are often found considerable distances away from known wetland breeding sites. They are the most commonly encountered frog in Perth suburban gardens, and usually the first species to colonize or breed in a new backyard pond.

This species is nearly identical in appearance, call and genetics to the Spotted-thighed Frog (Litoria cyclorhyncha), differing only by lacking the spots on the thighs.

Distribution map for Motorbike Frog

South-west region. From Geraldton to Albany.

The call has two components: a rising series of tones (similar to a motorbike changing gears, hence the common name), followed by a series of warbling growls. The call can only be heard within a few hundred metres.