Small frog likes a big mess

Ground litter — such as bark, leaves and logs — are critical for the Bibron’s toadlet’s survival. Photo: Chris Tzaros.

The Bibron’s toadlet, also known as the brown toadlet, is one of the Goulburn Broken catchment’s tiniest toadlets, at only two-to-three centimetres long.

Distinguishable by the orange or yellow patch on its armpit, the Bibron’s toadlet is the latest frog to feature in the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority’s Year of the Frog campaign.

It has fingers and toes for walking, not webbed for swimming, an indicator about how and where it lives, Goulburn Broken CMA project officer Janice Mentiplay-Smith said.

“In the case of the Bibron’s toadlet, the fact its feet are designed more for the ground and less for water indicates it spends a lot of its time in the local grey box grassy woodlands and forests environment, rather than in a water body, which is the usual place we think of when we talk about frogs,” Ms Mentiplay-Smith said

Instead of laying her eggs in a farm dam or rain-filled depression, the female Bibron’s toadlet lays her small single cluster of eggs at a damp location close to a water body, beneath a log, among fallen leaves or beneath moss.

The eggs are guarded by the male, and the tadpoles are released into the nearby water body once rain falls and the site becomes inundated. Once in the water, the tadpoles develop into frogs, a process that takes around four to six months.

Ms Mentiplay-Smith said the Bibron’s toadlet was a reason why ground cover was so important.

“Without a ‘messy’ layer of fallen leaves, logs, stones and branches, the Bibron’s toadlet loses the very element it needs in the environment to produce the next generation of Bibron’s toadlets,” she said.

“By leaving the ground cover, landholders are allowing the Bibron’s toadlet — and the food it eats such as ants, mites and beetles — a place to live and breed.”

This frog was only last year classified as endangered in Victoria.

Throughout 2022, the Goulburn Broken CMA and partners are celebrating the Year of the Frog, featuring a local frog species each month.

For more information, contact Janice Mentiplay-Smith on 0418 316 169 or email: