Listed as a threatened species in Victoria, the Giant Burrowing Frog is an elusive creature.

According to the Victorian Biodiversity Atlas there have been only 72 confirmed observations of the frog in Victoria since 1907 and just 13 of those were this century.

Observation number 73 came about as part of Victoria’s Forest Protection Survey Program. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) is surveying for threatened native wildlife in Victoria’s forests to provide better protections and improve the quality of data for planning timber harvesting operations and forest management. 

As the name suggests, the Giant Burrowing Frog is quite large, iaround 10cm long, with muscular legs to help it burrow.

Males have large black spines on their fingers. They spend most of their time burrowed underground, rarely emerging to call and breed at waterbodies in their forest habitat.

Although more commonly found in NSW, small numbers of the frog have been found scattered across central and eastern Gippsland.  

Jamie Molloy from DELWP manages the Forest Protection Survey Program. Remote audio recorders used in the survey picked up the frog’s distinctive call in forests between Orbost and Cann River late last year.  

“We set up these remote recorders at various forest locations for up to 28 days,” Mr Molloy said.  

“They’re set to record for short periods throughout the night with the recordings analysed soon afterwards by the survey team. So, capturing the call of such a rare frog means we have to be in the right place at the right time.” 

During the past summer, the survey program searched for several frog species, frog eggs and tadpoles in 38 different forest locations.

So far, 10 different species have been recorded across the forest survey sites, including this single detection of the highly cryptic GBF. You can find the complete list of species targeted in the survey program here

So, what happens when a rare Giant Burrowing Frog is found in Victorian forests? 

“When we find a Giant Burrowing Frog, the area immediately surrounding the location is re-zoned to protect it from timber harvesting. Depending on where the animal is discovered, that zone could cover 50 hectares of land or a 2km strip along a waterway.”  

The Forest Protection Survey Program is just one of the surveys DELWP conducts to help protect Victoria’s threatened native flora and fauna.  

The purpose of the program is to detect high conservation value and threatened species where they occur in coupes planned to be harvested and ensure they are properly managed for. 

Further information may be found at  Forest Protection Survey Program

Page last updated: 27/07/20