Caught and Coloured: Zoology Illustrations from Colonial Victoria

Spotted Marsh Frog, Limnodynastes tasmaniensis

Image Details
  • Plate Number: 42
  • Media: Drawing - Pencil, watercolour and ink on paper
  • Artist: Arthur Bartholomew
  • Location: Australia, Victoria, Melbourne, Brighton
  • Primary inscriptions: Nov 16th
  • Secondary inscriptions: left fore foot inner view/ left hind foot inner view
Transcript from the Prodromus of Zoology

Plate 42, Figure 1. The Spotted Marsh-Frog, Lymnodynastes tasmaniensis (now known as the Spotted Marsh Frog, Limnodynastes tasmaniensis) found in Melbourne

This beautiful little species is not uncommon in marshy places and shallow waters about Melbourne, where it forms a favourite food of snakes. At the end of November the young, about 1 inch long, takes to the land, having its four limbs perfect, but with a tail half an inch long remaining. The diapophyses of the last sacral vertebræ are only slightly widened at their distal ends.

Plate 42, Figure 2. Common Sand Frog, Lymnodynastes dorsalis (now known as the pobblebonk, Limnodynastes dumerilli) found in Brighton

The oddest characteristic of this species is its habitually burying itself seven or eight inches under the surface of the light sandy soil of Brighton and other similar localities in the south coast, where it may be dug out any day in considerable numbers; only coming out by night to feed on the large nocturnal spiders which abound on the surface at the same time. These localities, in which the Sand-frog most abounds, are entirely waterless, and the habit of burying itself in the sandy ground by day keeps it from the scorching rays of the sun, while the habit of coming to the surface and running over the ground by night introduces it to the snakes, which in such arid plains one would expect to have little chance of meeting batrachian food, of which it is evident they are very fond, from the abundance of the remains found on opening them. A similar habit of covering itself by day in light soil, it will be remembered, Mr. Darwin observed in come of the South American Frogs; although my first statement of its being observable in Australia in this species has been contradicted by a writer in Sydney, who does not seem to have met the creature, which may be turned up with the spade, however, in any of the gardens of the locality I mentioned. It has not been figured of the natural colors before.

Current Scientific Information

Pobblebonk or Eastern Banjo Frog, Limnodynastes dumerilli


Large species up to about 85 mm long. Readily identified by a prominent tibial gland on each hind leg. Two subspecies in the area: L. dumerilii insularis (pale mid-back stripe) and L. dumerilii dumerilii (back stripe absent). Tadpoles large, up to 68 mm long.

Habitat and range

Burrowing species, sometimes found when people dig in their backyard. L. dumerilii insularis - in south-eastern areas. L. dumerilii dumerilii - throughout the rest of the Greater Melbourne area.


This is species has a very distinctive call - a loud 'bonk' - giving rise to its common names. Eggs are laid in a large, white, floating raft in permanent still water. Tadpoles take up to 15 months to complete development.