Ranoidea aurea

Green and golden bell frog

Ranoidea aurea
(Lesson, 1827)

Green and Golden Bell Frog. <a href="https://www.instagram.com/joelknightnz/">© Joel Knight</a>
Image attribution
Herpetofaunal category
Introduced Frogs
Species complex
Conservation Status
Introduced and Naturalised (IUCN - Vulnerable)
Previous scientific names
Litoria aurea
Common names
Green and golden bell frog,
Golden bell frog.

Length: SVL: Males - up to 60mm; Females - up to 80mm

Weight: unknown

The green and golden bell frog was deliberately introduced to the North Island in the 1860’s by the Auckland Acclimatisation Society. Attempts to establish populations in the South Island failed, most likely as conditions were not suitable. As green and golden bell frog are critically endangered in their native Australia, populations in New Zealand may be considered a possible reservoir to save the species, though it has also been introduced to (and established in) New Caledonia and New Hebrides. Green and golden bell frog held in captivity should not be released into the wild because of the threat they may pose to our native frogs through transmission of disease. The green and golden bell frog can be distinguished from native species by their loud vocalisation (native frogs are essentially silent).


Dorsal (upper) surface is smooth and has many variations; the main colour ranges from vivid to dark green or brown (metallic gold to dark chocolate), often with coppery shaded patches/stripes running the length of the body. A light cream coloured stripe extends laterally from the eye to the groin where it terminates in a splash of bright blue or green. A second stripe often extends from the upper lip down to the base of the forelimb. Ventral (lower) surfaces are creamy white. The armpits and groin are often marked with a bright blue. The snout is blunt and toes on the hind feet are ¾ webbed.

Green and golden bell frog are sexually dimorphic; breeding males have a dark olive brown throat and females are usually larger than males. SVL (snout vent length) for males is 50-60mm, with females reaching around 60-70mm. Tadpoles reach 60-90mm and are dark olive to black turning olive green as they mature.

Green and golden bell frog can be distinguished from southern bell frog (Ranoidea raniformis) as they lack the thin light green mid dorsal stripe seen in southern bell frog and their skin is smooth rather than warty as in the southern bell frog.


A deep guttural three to four syllable croak, with each note descending in duration.


Widespread in the upper portion of the North Island (north of Gisborne).

Distribution maps are simplified, predicted distributions based on a combination of known distribution data, historical distribution data, suitability of habitat, and known biogeographic patterns. In some cases, the potential distribution of a species may be very unlikely. However, due to the cryptic nature of some of New Zealand's herpetofauna, it should not be ruled out entirely. Only significant historical records outside the known range of each species are used. 

Ecology and habitat

A semi aquatic species which can be found resting and sun bathing on emergent vegetation or fallen trees near ponds or wetlands. Green and golden bell frogs are nocturnal, although are avid sun baskers. They are agile climbers.

Breeding biology

Green and golden bell frog breed in fresh water during summer, with adults residing in and around breeding sites. Between 3,000 and 10,000 eggs are laid in a gelatinous mat which initially floats before sinking 6-12 hours later. Tadpoles hatch after two days, with metamorphosis taking place around 2 months later.


The species is voracious and carnivorous, consuming invertebrates such as crickets, flies, grasshoppers; freshwater crayfish and slugs; other frogs (including cannibalisation of con-specifics) and lizards.


Gill, B.J., & Whitaker, A.H. (2007). New Zealand frogs and reptiles. Auckland: David Bateman Limited.

Hitchmough, R.A., Anderson, P., Barr, B., Monks, J., Lettink, M., Reardon, J., Tocher, M., & Whitaker, T. (2012). Conservation status of New Zealand reptiles, in New Zealand Threat Classification Series 2. DOC: Wellington.

Jewell, T. (2011). A photographic guide to reptiles and amphibians of New Zealand. Auckland: New Holland Publishing.

van Winkel, D., Baling, M. & Hitchmough, R. (2018). Reptiles and Amphibians of New Zealand: A field guide. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 376 pp.