The Maniacal Cacklers of Newstead

No, I’m not referring to some of our more jovial community members, I’m actually talking here about Litoria peronii, or Peron’s tree frog, colloquially known as the maniacal cackling frog, for reasons obvious to anyone who’s familiar with their call.

Heard on warm spring and summer nights, cacklers are distinctive and, well, yes, a bit maniacal. Although Geoff has written about them being in the area, in seventeen years of living in the bush at Strangways, I’ve never heard a single one. Not a cackle. Until this spring, when unexpectedly, I heard not one but several chortling away by our dam.

Frog movements are perplexing. Where have they come from? Chris Johnston has had them at Green Gully only in the last five years, and I don’t remember them at all when I used to live over that way. So where have they appeared from? Are they gradually dispersing westwards? Is this a regular fluctuation in response to climatic conditions, or a unique population drift?

If you’ve heard cacklers locally, I’d be curious to know. Maybe they’re far more common than I’d thought.

And to help you identify them, here is a recording of our new riotous residents on our Strangways dam. You can hear the cackler almost immediately, and a second one takes over calling after a few minutes. This was recorded during spring, and you can also hear pobblebonks (Limnodynastes dumerilii), brown tree frogs (Litoria ewingii) (“weep-eep-eep-eep”, one quietly and occasionally in the background) and a chorus of brown froglets (crinia parinsignifera) (“squelch”ing calls, one quite close at beginning).

I rushed to make this recording the first night I heard them, being enthusiastically attacked by mosquitoes in the process (remember them?!). I needn’t have bothered. Our cacklers are still calling now in January, when most other frog species have fallen silent.

8 responses to “The Maniacal Cacklers of Newstead

  1. We have had these in our garden in Castlemaine for several years. Thank you for giving us the species as I have never had able to get a look at one.

  2. Thanks for the post Andrew, very interesting, will be keeping an ear out for a cackling frog!

  3. Oh yes, I have these little cacklers, quite close to where I’m trying to sleep!

  4. Enjoyed hearing your recording immensely. Thank you

  5. Andrew, I heard one in Maldon opposite the Community Centre last November. Previously I have heard lots of them up near the Wakool River, between Swan Hill and Deniliquin. Maybe they are spreading South and West, with climate change!

  6. Hi Andrew, Thanks so much for their name! We too ran out to make a recording (Barkers Creek) and then spent time on the Frogs of Australia website listening to calls to identify this one… but evidently I got it wrong 🙂 many thanks again for sharing.

  7. Hi Andrew, we had them in the Murray Valley but have not heard them since moving to Bendigo 12 years ago. We have been in Junortoun for 6 of those years now and have an abundance of them this year for the first time ,no doubt due to the high winter/spring rains last year. They enjoy catching insects on our windows attracted to the lights and reside among the pot plants on our veranda. My daughter loves them and finds her favourites nearly every day as she knows their hiding spots.

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