Dahl’s a fearless frog

The Dahl’s Aquatic Frog is a medium sized, spectacularly marked frog commonly seen in Top End wetlands. Wherever there is permanent water you may find a big bug eyed Dahl’s Aquatic Frog sitting up proud on a lily pad. At night they can travel considerable distances overland and will often be seen crossing roads but they are mostly found around the edges of swamps and billabongs.

Dahl’s Aquatic Frogs are a pale apple green and muddy brown in colour with a broad stripe running down their backs. This makes them quite visible against the leaf stained water of most billabongs and floodways. They sit up tall on a lily pad or weed mat while they are hunting, and can often be seen out and about during the day.

Quite curious behaviour for a colourful critter that is basically a little bag of froggy goo encased in delicate skin.

The reason for its bravery is that the Dahl’s Aquatic Frog is toxic. Unwary snakes or other hunters looking for an easy target can be poisoned if they eat them so there is no reason to be subtle if you don’t taste all that great. 

Dahl’s Aquatic Frogs are adventurous and cannibalistic gastronomes. They are happy snacking on other frogs and tadpoles, many legged beetles and even small fish. They are among the few frogs in Australia that can catch and eat underwater prey. They perch on vantage points and lunge at passing prey with an enormous thrust of their incredibly strong hind legs.

Another toxic Territory amphibian, the introduced Cane Toad, was once thought to be on the Dahl’s menu. This was based on the fact that a handful of captive frogs ate toad eggs, tadpoles and young and survived. In the wild, however, adult frogs will regurgitate young toads if they are eaten and avoid eating them in the future. If the little toads are swallowed they will kill half of the adult frogs who eat them.

One of best places to see Dahl’s Aquatic Frogs is around the bird hides at Fogg Dam Conservation Area just outside Darwin. This spot is an ideal destination for wildlife watchers of all ages. There are several easily accessed bird hides and boardwalks that provide shady and protected vantage points to spot anything from long legged Black Necked Storks and crazy looking Spoonbills to turtles, snakes and the Dahl’s Aquatic Frog.