Frogs don’t get a lot of publicity, which is a bit unfair. Frogs of Tropical North Queensland are one of the forest’s most remarkable creature. For a start, they’re amphibians, meaning they spend part of their life in water, part on land. Frogs start out with gills as a tadpole before metamorphosing into a land based frog with lungs. With over 200 frog species in Australia, there are about 54 species found in the Wet Tropics region around Cairns and Port Douglas. Many species inhabit Thala’s native forest.
There’s tree frogs, waterfall frogs, mist frogs, nursery frogs, javelin frogs, burrowing frogs and lacelids.
Some of the stars are loving the winter rain. This lady is delivering more green to the scene than an aliens armpit. A full serving of green with her traditional all time favourite white lippy and some white leggings to match. She's just chilled and enjoying the moment. White lipped tree frog #amazing_australia #farnorthqueenslandaustralia #tropicalnqld #portdouglasdaintree #natureaddict #visit_queensland #wildlifeplace #wettropics #wildlife_news #discoverqueensland #animal_sultans #ig_australia #portdouglasdaintree #discoverqueensland #animal_sultans #thisisqueensland #froginstagram #frogs #frog #green #Great_captures #ExploreTNQ #winter #wearethetropics
But all is not well in the frog habitats of Cairns, Port Douglas and Tropical North Queensland in general. Frogs are in peril. In fact, their troubles are a strong indicator of trouble in the wider environment.
Which is where the Cairns Frog Hospital steps in. For almost twenty years the Cairns Frog Hospital has been caring for sick and injured frogs. Over 2,400 frogs (as well as countless toads and tadpoles) have been brought in to the hospital. Most have been rehabilitated and returned to the wild.
Diseased frogs however are another challenge the hospital faces. The complex conditions that Founding President Deborah Pergolotti has encountered are numerous. A tireless champion for frogs, Deborah has been awarded the Centenary Medal and a Cassowary Award for her devotion to frogs and the survival of species.
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“The complex conditions we have been receiving includes problems not being reported from any other part of the country and therefore these diseases have not been identified and cures are not yet known,” she says.
“Frogs which don’t survive are preserved so that they can be tested for diseases eventually. Once we know what pathogen is involved we can find out if a successful treatment is available of if there is a prevention so that we can save frogs from these illnesses.”
Caring for injured frogs may seem a simple idea at first but it is a very different process from other types of animals such birds, macropods & bats which are normally handled by wildlife rescue groups. For a start there has been a significant problem with amphibian diseases in recent years. This threat to the frog population is spreading.
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Complications arise from restrictions on where frogs can be returned to the wild. Release can be complicated by the need to verify that the species actually exists at the intended release site. Further complications arise outside the breeding season.
Another difficulty facing the Cairns Frog Hospital is the lack of information and care techniques available. One of the roles Cairns Frog Hospital hopes to play is to learn and document the best treatments for various conditions and to publish that information to help others ultimately help frogs.
Regarding research into frogs, Cairns Frog Hospital serves as a receiving station for sick frogs or those which have unknown conditions. Many frogs brought to the hospital have had unusual conditions or diseases previously unseen in those species. One of the significant finds thus far has been the arrival of several frogs which have been diagnosed with skin cancer – a condition previously considered to be extremely rare. The hospital has also received at least a dozen frogs with other types of growths. Such discoveries are reminders of frogs’ reputation as environmental indicators.
Running a frog hospital and researching the decline of frog populations is not a cheap exercise. After receiving a small amount of Commonwealth government support in 2008 Cairns Frog Hospital relies on donations of supporters and friends of frogs.
Thala Beach Nature Reserve is a proud supporter of Cairns Frog Hospital. We encourage guests to assist with research, rescue and recovery of frogs by making a small donation.