It was during University when I started working with my favourite beastie, the Growling Grass Frog (also known as the Southern Bell Frog and sister species to the Green and Golden Bell Frog well known from Homebush Bay where the Sydney Olympics were held). These frogs are big, green and beautiful with an awesome growl like call, hear it here: frogs.org.au/frogs/species/Litoria/raniformis/. Females are larger than the males and can grow up to about 10 cm long. You can find them on the outskirts of Melbourne in a variety of wetlands from deep permanent wetlands left over in old quarry holes and slow-moving creeks to ephemeral wetlands where they can breed and metamorphose without any hassles from the fish eating their young. They like a good amount of plants around the wetland and in the water too, but not so much as to block out the sun as these guys are a basking species, and love to catch a few rays during the day. Like all frogs, they will eat anything they can fit in their mouth, even eating their own species if need be.
My first project with Growlers started back in 2003, 13 years ago! No selfies - it wasn't really a thing back then! I worked with Victorian frog experts Geoffrey Heard and Peter Robertson on a project where we had to rescue as many frogs as we could from an old quarry hole that was going to be filled and turned into housing. So we caught us some frogs and moved them to newly created wetlands, just down the road. These wetlands are within a housing estate called Botanica Park Ponds, next door to Darebin Creek.
The tricky bit was that we wanted to see what happened to these frogs once they had moved into their new abode. So we put some nifty little radio transmitters on them and I followed them for a couple of months. They loved hiding away during the cooler months, under rock rubble, dumped concrete slabs and within that dense vegetation they love so much. Some even appeared to be in a torpor or dormant state, where they shut down their bodies to conserve their energy and didn't move for weeks on end.
Since then I have worked most breeding seasons in search of these lovely animals, I still get a thrill seeing them in the wild. I hope to run some frog survey sessions once we hit the warmer months and our amphibian friends start to get active again, stay tuned!