New Cancer Found In White-lipped Treefrogs
White Lipped Tree Frog
White-lipped treefrog with Spindle cell soft tissue sarcoma. Photo (c) by Deborah Pergolotti

Frog Safe Inc, a frog hospital in Queensland, Australia found a white-lipped treefrog (Nyctimystes infrafrenatus) with an abnormal growth on its lips, and when antimicrobial agents were applied to the growth and proved ineffective, the frog was sent to a veterinarian in Cairns for analysis. The growth was removed from the amphibian by Cairns veterinarian Paul Matthews. Testing revealed it to be a cancer called Spindle cell soft tissue sarcoma.

“Frogs generally are pretty resilient creatures, but their immune system, like all animals, can be compromised by external factors,” Matthews told ABC News Australia. “I haven’t seen these sort of things in frogs before — soft-tissue sarcoma is a pretty nasty thing. “It’s locally invasive and it may reoccur, even though I’ve removed as much of it as I could.”

White’s Treefrog Care Sheet

Deborah Pergolotti, who runs Frog Safe, told ABC News Australia that it is the first verified case of this type of cancer to be found in frogs and the fifth frog cancer case that the hospital has worked with.

White Lipped Treefrog Post Surgery

White-lipped treefrog after the cancer was removed. Photo (c) Deborah Pergolotti

“It’s a different type [of cancer] than we’ve had before,” Pergolotti said. “As far as verification goes, it is the fifth type of cancer that’s been isolated in cases we’ve had.”

The white-lipped treefrog is the largest treefrog in the world and reaches 11-14 cm (4.3 to 5.5 in.) in length. They are bright green in coloration but can also turn brown, depending on the temperature and locality. It is so named due to the white stripe that lines its lower lip. That line continues to the shoulder. With an appropriate permit, the white-lipped treefrog can be kept as a pet in Australia.


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