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Fleay's barred frog

Fleay's barred frog  Photo: B Manning, Queensland Government

Fleay's barred frog Photo: B Manning, Queensland Government

Common name: Fleay’s barred frog

Scientific name: Mixophyes fleayi 

Family: Myobatrachidae (Australian water frogs)

Conservation status: This species is listed as Endangered in Queensland (Nature Conservation Act 1992) and nationally (Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999). It is considered a low priority under the department's Back on Track species prioritisation framework.


Fleay’s barred frog is a large (63-89 mm) burrowing frog with a steeply sloped, blunt snout. They are light to dark brown in colour with indistinct darker marbling. A dark brown Y-shaped vertebral band with irregular edges starts between the eyes and extends to the groin, sometimes breaking up into a series of blotches along the mid-line. The sides are grey-brown, fading to yellow at the rear and overlaid by a series of black spots.

There is an irregular dark band running from the nostrils through the eye to a point behind the external ear opening. The ear opening is large and oval-shaped, sloping backwards. There is a dark purple patch beneath the eye and the upper lip is usually mottled brown. The pupil is vertical and in adults the upper part of the iris may be straw-brown through to light blue to silvery-white. In sub-adults the upper third of the iris is flame orange.

The underside and limbs are yellow and the throat and inner thighs may be speckled with brown. Males have a vocal sac. The thighs are grey-brown, with 7 or 8 narrow, black cross-bands. The fingers are unwebbed, slightly expanded at the tips, while the toes are half-webbed. The soles and palms are black.

Habitat and distribution

Fleay’s barred frog has a narrow and disjunct distribution in wet forests from the Conondale Range, south-east Queensland (SEQ) to Tooloom Scrub, New South Wales. They can occur from near sea level to approximately 1000 m altitude, but are most commonly recorded at mid-elevation sites between 400 and 800 m.

Adults may be found in leaf litter and along watercourses in rainforest and adjoining wet sclerophyll forests. Males call from rocks in streams, or from pools at the margins of these streams, or from the forest floor. Females have been located several hundred metres from breeding sites.

Life history and behaviour

The Fleay’s barred frog has two distinct calls, a throaty "ok-ok-ok-ok-ok-ok" made by solitary males, and a long, rasping "arrrrrrrr", or growling call given in chorus.

During favourable conditions this frog forms aggregations, from late winter to early autumn, with breeding recorded in all months from July to March. Egg-laying takes place in shallow fast-flowing zones of streams. The female lays the eggs as a single layer on bedrock in flat, shallow sections of a stream, or forms a small depression amongst submerged leaf litter or gravel, and fastens the eggs to the walls of this nest. The tadpole of Fleay’s barred-frog grows to about 100 mm and has a fusiform body, with a tail twice as long as the body.

The diet of Fleay’s barred frog is unknown, but is likely to consist largely of invertebrates from the forest floor. Tadpoles feed on bottom sediment, algae, detritus, fallen fruit and carrion.

Threatening Processes

Fleay’s barred frog is one of five species of upland stream-dwelling frogs which has declined in South-east Queensland. This species experienced a significant population decline in the Conondale and Border Ranges during the early 1990's. The causes of this and similar declines in the upland rainforest frog fauna of south-east Queensland are almost certainly due to the amphibian chytrid fungus, which has been found in sick and dying individuals of many species. Recent surveys have located small populations at several locations throughout the former range.

Other suspected threatening processes include:

  • Habitat loss through clearing, timber harvesting and urban development.
  • Degradation of water quality and riparian vegetation arising from logging, grazing, weed invasion and pollution.
  • Predation by feral pigs.

Future recovery actions

Related information

Barker J, Grigg GC and Tyler MJ. 1995. A Field Guide to Australian Frogs. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton, NSW.

Berger L, Speare R and Hyatt A. 1999. Chytrid fungi and Amphibian declines: Overview, Implications and Future Directions. Pp23-33. In Campbell, A (ed), 'Declines and Disappearances of Australian frogs'. Environment Australia, Department of the Environment and Heritage: Canberra. 234 pp.

Cogger, H. 2014. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Seventh edition. CSIRO Publishing, Victoria.

Corben CJ and Ingram GJ. 1987. A new barred river frog (Myobatrachidae: Mixophyes). Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 25(1): 233-237.

Curtis LK, Dennis AJ, McDonald KR, Kyne PM and Debus SJS. 2012. Queensland’s Threatened Animals. CSIRO Publishing, Victoria, Australia.

Department of the Environment and Energy. 2016. Threat abatement plan for infection of amphibians with chytrid fungus resulting in chytridiomycosis (2016), Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.

Hines HB and the South-east Queensland Threatened Frogs Recovery Team. 2002. Recovery plan for stream frogs of south-east Queensland 2001 2005. Report to Environment Australia, Canberra. Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Brisbane.


Last updated
26 July 2017