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Australian Blue Tree frog

Litoria caeruleum


These images are of the juveniles first emerging. The very Dark/Blue smooth skinned frog looks like a Green Tree frog with fine gold spots running down the side.


Near salt water pools pH approx 7.6 Low Chlorine


They don't seem to be affected by the salt water and they also live around salt water pools in Helensvale, QLD. The pool pump has been out of action for quite a while so the top layer is not as salty as the rest of the pool. That doesn't stop the juvenile frogs from sitting a metre below the surface before they make their way up and out. As the Australian Green Tree frog is incorrectly called Litoria caerulea, I called this one Litoria caeruleum to distinguish it. The original could possibly be called Litoria aureum viridi (gold/green) and this one Litoria aureum cæruleum (gold/blue). If future offspring could return to gold/blue in fresh water the change would be reversible although the internal salt content change may only allow successful breeding with other blue frogs in salty water due to osmosis. Female blue frogs could also mate with male greens and the gestation etc could occur in salt water.

1 Species ID Suggestions

KimLomman 10 years ago
Australian Green Tree Frog
Litoria caerulea Australian green tree frog

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LaurieKennedy 10 years ago

Hi Alice, if you look closely at the picture on the link they are from freshwater pools not saltwater (it kills the grass if not salt tolerant) and the bottom toad on the left hand side is already discoloring around the legs. It is a pity that the photo did not show side or front views.

There are many Green Tree frogs in my area area (half way up a hill miles away from where the map reference is) including 4 big males who croak before rain in the gardens around the pool. I lived 7 houses up the road around 14 years ago and there were many large Green Tree frogs there as well.

At my fathers house (he is at the top of a hill) there are very few cane toads around as he gets the grand kids to do regular bag and freeze runs when they stay. Also the local crows have recently worked out how to the eat cane toads by standing on their stomachs and eating their guts through the toads mouth so they have been getting the ones the kids miss. He does not find any Blue/Green Tree frog skins around as they are native not introduced species.

If you ever see the adults or juveniles up close you will not mistake them for cane toads due to the line of gold dots from their skins top layer, silver from the middle layer and black from the bottom layer. The Australian Blue Cattle dog appears blue due to black hairs closely interspersed through a predominantly white coat.

AliceGreenup 10 years ago

If you go to this website & then the very bottom of the page there is a picture of cane toad metamorphs & they look very similar to this, smooth skinned and all.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 10 years ago

I can't see any tadpoles - only frogs?

LaurieKennedy 10 years ago

I thought they were cane toads at first too when I lifted an adult out of my fathers saltwater pool over a year ago but after a closer look I noticed they did not have the toads eye ridges, are smooth skinned and have a line of gold spots along their sides. My father told me then they were Freycinet frogs but the adults and juveniles look more like the original 1790's watercolor (without the white line and a thinner gold line) in the State Library of NSW's link.

Science has become too political these days and people who genuinely want to learn should look to Carl Linnæus as a good example. True science is about people who value science and learn from the scientific process not clerks, accountants and administrators.

KimLomman 10 years ago

Yes that is the purview of the ICZN and they have decided that Litoria caerulea is the valid scientific name for the Australian Green Tree Frog. If you wish to change that you would to write a publication, have it recognized and submitted to a peer-reviewed journal, have it accepted as a case by ICZN and then go through rigorous research to determine whether it needs to be changed.

It is not up to you to just change it as you see fit. That is the point of scientific names, to keep everything organized correctly.

Honestly I'm not even sure those are pictures of Green Tree Frogs at all. Australian Green Tree Frogs don't have gold spots. It is quite possible they are actually Cane Toad metamorphs.

LaurieKennedy 10 years ago

Hi Karen, all,

This is not an issue of naming a new species but purely a discrete issue of binomial nomenclature and order. That's what the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature is for.


1610, "a name," from Fr. nomenclature, from L. nomenclatura "calling of names," from nomenclator "namer," from nomen "name" + calator "caller, crier," from calare "call out" (see calendar). Nomenclator in Rome was the title of a steward whose job was to announce visitors, and also of a prompter who helped a stumping politician recall names and pet causes of his constituents. Meaning "list or catalogue of names" first attested 1635; that of "system of naming" is from 1664; sense of "terminology of a science" is from 1789.

KarenL 10 years ago

What a great (& educational) discussion. As there is a process involved before a species is named or renamed please can you use the universally accepted binomial name. You might be interested in a recent blog feature about the process
Welcome to the community Laurie!

LaurieKennedy 10 years ago

Hi S Frazier, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature doesn't have the same restrictions though.

These issues need a lot more research and experimentation as the original 1790's taxonomy was correct for the wrong reasons.

"Mechanisms of colour production in animals. Animal coloration may be the result of any combination of pigments, chromatophores, structural coloration and bioluminescence.
Coloration by Pigments. Many animals, including mammals, birds, and amphibians, are unable to synthesize most of the pigments that colour their fur or feathers, other than the brown or black melanins that give many mammals their earth tones.
Variable coloration by chromatophores. Amphibians such as frogs have three kinds of star-shaped chromatophore cells in separate layers of their skin. The top layer contains 'xanthophores' with orange, red, or yellow pigments; the middle layer contains 'iridophores' with a silvery light-reflecting pigment; while the bottom layer contains 'melanophores' with dark melanin."

Green is not an amphibian pigment and structural and bioluminescence coloration don't seem to apply to these frogs, as they don't glow in the dark etc, so the original taxanomical classification is correct for frogs of this type but a disctinction must still be made between salt water and freshwater varieties in the higher interests of determining evolutionary pathways.

As the latin ending 'ia' denotes many while 'um' denotes a single one (the original branching point) and blue saltwater frogs are relatively rare I will retain my classification in the interests of correctness.

Mark Ridgway
Mark Ridgway 10 years ago

Welcome to Project Noah...

Scott Frazier
Scott Frazier 10 years ago

Hello, if I am understanding the issue...Regardless of the question of merit, there are many regulations that must be followed when naming a species or correcting a taxonomy. For animals this is set down by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN). It would also involve publication in a relevant peer-reviewed scientific journal. It cannot happen here, unfortunately.

KimLomman 10 years ago

Well no you couldn't reclassify just based on one colour morph. That's all these are. Colour morphs of Australian Green Tree Frogs (Litoria caerulea). There are hundreds of different colour variations of Budgerigar but they all have the same scientific name regardless - Melopsittacus undulatus. There are no subspecies for any of the colour morphs. Because that isn't how taxonomy works. They are all the same genetic species.

LaurieKennedy 10 years ago

Shanna you can see them too. The common color between both is gold and one is green while the other is blue. The caerelum version distinguishes the two while keeping the original classification and the other two names could be used for a complete reclassification.

KimLomman 10 years ago

I'm sure there are plenty of animals with scientific names which may describe descriptions which are not accurate. That does not mean those scientific names are wrong. Scientific names only tend to get changed if the taxonomy is changed, the species changed to a different genera or a higher classification change. The scientific name is not meant to be used to describe an animal only to classify it. By you deciding to not include the correct scientific name, as it has been decided by the zoological community, you are corrupting the data of Project Noah.

Trinomial names are only used for subspecies.

LaurieKennedy 10 years ago

Hi Kim and Shanna, the latin name caerulea means blue because the original (incorrect) classification was made based on a dead specimen that had been pickled in alcohol. These frogs are not dead or pickled in alcohol.

Isn't it about time the record was corrected?

Kim, if you want to see one you will have to be quick, get Project Noah to send me your email and I will contact you.

KimLomman 10 years ago

The Australian Green Tree Frog regardless of colour morph is still Litoria caerulea. You cannot just change the scientific name of a species. Please correct it. As ShannaB says it is vital to have accurate data.

ShannaB 10 years ago

Hi Laurie, welcome to Project Noah! I just want to ask for some clarity on your notes. Is this the blue form of the Australian Green Tree Frog (Litoria caerulea)? I am very keen to see one! According to my trusty 'Wildlife of Great Brisbane: A Queensland Museum Wild Guide' book there is a blue form but it's pretty rare. I have run searches on 'Litoria caeruleum', 'Litoria aureum viridi' 'Litoria aureum caeruleum' and I can't find them anywhere. Can you please check the species and the scientific name(s) you've provided? Project Noah uses its spotting data for research and conservation, so the scientific name needs to be accurate otherwise it can invalidate our data. Thank you!

Ava T-B
Ava T-B 10 years ago

Welcome to Project Noah, LaurieKennedy.

Spotted by

Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Spotted on Feb 22, 2013
Submitted on Feb 24, 2013

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