Surprise reason for extraordinary find near backyard pool: 'Now that's different'

An experienced amphibian expert has explained exactly why this beautiful little frog is yellow and not green.

A yellow green tree frog photographed in Leanyer, in Darwin's north.
Aussies have been left stunned after images of a bright yellow green tree frog were posted online. Source: Facebook

Aussies have been left "stunned" after photos emerged of a green tree frog sporting a "lovely natural genetic mutation" that saw its skin transform into a "sunny and gorgeous" shade of yellow.

Photos of the little creature were snapped up by an impressed Northern Territory resident based in Darwin, who shared the striking images online. The woman gleefully announced she had "a stunning visitor to our garden", located in Leanyer, in the city's north.

Over 1,000 people responded to the images, with people from far and wide commenting on how naturally "beautiful" the animal is. Speaking to Yahoo News Australia, amphibian expert with the Australian Museum, Dr Jodi Rowley, explained how the little frog got its striking colour.

A yellow green tree frog photographed in Leanyer, in Darwin's north.
According to Dr Jodi Rowley, the green tree frog's 'lovely mutation' is perfectly natural. Source: Facebook

Rowley told Yahoo that the colouration was due to a genetic mutation.

"What a beautiful frog," Rowley said. "This is a lovely natural genetic 'mutation' (xanthism), where the frog is missing the full complement of pigments that it normally has and turns out a different colour than 'normal'.

There are three types of pigment cells in frogs — melanophores (black/brown), iridophores (iridescent; often associated with bright blue/green colours), and xanthophores (yellow/red), Dr Rowley explained.

"The green colour in many frog species such as the green tree frog (litoria caerulea) is due to a combination of yellow xanthophore pigment, blue light reflected by the iridophores and some degree black/brown from melanophores. This frog appears to be missing or has much reduced/altered melanophores and/or iridiophores and so because of the xanthophores it appears yellow," she said.

Rowley said she "more commonly observes blue tree frogs", where the frog appears to be missing xanthosophores, so "it’' great to see a yellow green tree frog". "A lovely frog indeed," she said. "Hopefully this colour doesn't make them more obvious to predators, as the green is often quite a good camouflage."

A yellow green tree frog photographed in Leanyer, in Darwin's north.
Green tree frogs are found throughout the eastern and northern parts of Australia. They prefer cool, damp places, particularly in more arid areas. Source: Facebook

Online, wildlife enthusiasts shared their excitement. "Wow! So beautiful," a woman wrote. "It's gorgeous. I've never seen anything like it," another said.

"Yellow tree frog. Now that's different," another man said. "What a cutie pie," said another.

Green tree frogs are not known to be harmful to humans. They do secrete a toxin but it's not believed to be enough to have a severe effect on humans or other animals. Green tree frogs are native to Australia and can reach up to 11cm in body length. They're commonly found in northern WA, northern NT, northeastern SA, and most of QLD and NSW.

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