The secretive Baw Baw Frog (Philoria frosti) is only found on the Mt Baw Baw plateau, approximately 120km east of Melbourne.
Baw Baw Frogs have an unusual life history, and are uniquely adapted to their alpine home. Adult frogs live and feed underground, hunting worms and other invertebrates. During summer, they meet to breed in seepage sites along the edges of gullies. Females make a foam nest underground by beating air bubbles into mucous. The tadpoles hatch 5-8 weeks later at a much earlier stage than most other frog species - they don’t feed and instead live off the remaining yolk before metamorphosing into frogs.
There has been a 98% decline in Baw Baw Frogs since the 1980s. The reasons for this population crash are not clear, however the two most likely factors are:
Chytridiomycosis – an infectious disease caused by chytrid fungus (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) which infects the skin of frogs and other amphibians. Chytrid fungus has been linked with declines and extinctions of frogs worldwide, and appears to affect frogs in cool climates most severely. Once a population is infected, there is no effective way of controlling this disease. Chytrid fungus has been detected in some Baw Baw Frogs.
Climate change – With climate change, there are likely to be warmer temperatures and decreased rainfall in the Baw Baw Plateau region. This could cause sub-alpine and montane habitats of the Baw Baw Frog to shrink or entirely disappear.
Saving the Baw Baw Frog
Zoos Victoria is working to change the fate of threatened species and is committed to fighting extinction – we will ensure that no more Victorian terrestrial vertebrate species become extinct.
As part of a long-term program to support the conservation of this species, Zoos Victoria collected a Baw Baw Frog egg mass in late 2011. By developing captive-husbandry techniques for breeding, raising and keeping Baw Baw Frogs, we can help to rescue this Endangered species.
How can you help?
Reduce your carbon footprint – Switch off your lights, and walk or ride to work. Global warming is likely to severely affect alpine environments through changes in temperature and decreased snowfall and rainfall. Doing your bit by reducing carbon emissions will help protect alpine species such as the Baw Baw Frog and Mountain Pygmy-possum.
Wash for Wildlife – Buy phosphate-free laundry detergent and dish-washing detergent. Excessive phosphates from our drainage affect frog habitat by reducing water clarity, oxygen levels and increasing algal blooms. Your phosphate-free purchase will help improve the health of our waterways, making them a better place for frogs and other wildlife.
Visit one of our three zoos - Zoos Victoria is a not-for-profit organisation - we rely on the support of our visitors and members. By visiting Healesville Sanctuary, Melbourne Zoo or Werribee Open Range Zoo, you will be supporting our work to fight extinction
Act Wild - Join the growing number of Wild Activists taking action for local wildlife. You can get grubby, get creative and find out about local conservation events.
Plans and publications
Download a comprehensive overview of what Zoos Victoria is doing to save the Baw Baw Frog (478 KB)
Hollis. G (2011) National Recovery Plan for the Baw Baw Frog Philoria frosti. State of Victoria Department of Sustainability and Environment (4.3 MB)
DSE (2009) Action Statement No. 4 - Eastern Barred Bandicoot (mainland subspecies) Peremeles gunnii (unnamed subspecies). Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria.