A visit to Australia's only frog farm

North Otago boys on a route march. Back row (from left): Privates T. C. Reid, S. Jenkins, D. C....
North Otago boys on a route march. Back row (from left): Privates T. C. Reid, S. Jenkins, D. C. Forbes, T. E. Thomson, H. F. Turner and Lance-corporal Brown. Front row: Privates P. Hanlon, D. Christie, J. N. Jenkins, T. Beckett, J. Morris and H. W. Grant. - Otago Witness, 14.3.1917
Sydney: The only frog farm in Australia is situated at Balgowlah, near Manly, and is conducted by a man named Leon Gebehr. The reptiles are raised not for culinary but for scientific purposes; they are sold in large numbers to the universities.

A recent visitor to the farm found stocks somewhat depleted - there were only about 4000 all told - but he was given much interesting information about the creatures and their habits. The frog farmer's chief anxiety related to the weather. The frogs are kept in a huge, grassy place, completely enclosed in fine wire netting, where there is a series of ponds. Inside the enclosure, scattered about, are many shelter boxes, like beehives. At the first breath of the cold southerly which comes up so suddenly in this region in hot weather the frogs rush to the boxes, and remain there until the temperature rises. Mr Gebehr told dolefully how last April a sudden, slight frost wiped out some hundreds of his charges. It would seem that the Hawke's Bay peach grower and the Manly frog farmer have something in common. During the summer the frogs eat voraciously. Everything in insect form is food for them. Mr Gebehr chops up overripe fruit, and leaves it in the enclosure. The bait attracts myriads of flies, and on them the frogs wax fat. Swarms of ants also come in after the fruit. Few return. The frog farmer's job during the winter is a sinecure. The fattened frog, for three or four months retires into obscurity and a state of somnolence. Visitors to this unique farm are greatly struck by the fact that the frogs know their master. They show no fear of him; some even hop after him. But the advent of a stranger creates prompt alarm and a hurried disappearance. The frogs have a hundred enemies - cats, eels, fowls, snakes, lizards, and many kinds of fish and birds. Stocks are replenished by breeding and by introducing trapped strangers from outside. Mr Gebehr declares they are good Australian frogs; a certain number of immigrants are received without question, but if the established community thinks the number excessive there presently arises a fearful hullabaloo, and only active human interference prevents a general massacre. There is not yet any demand in Australia for frogs for table purposes. The snail finds its way into many dining rooms, however, and a number of men, it is said are now engaged in raising these succulent creatures for the market.

Everybody, but particularly parents with boys and girls approaching maturity, and those who cannot go to the front (says the New Zealand Herald), will be gratified to learn of the manner in which New Zealand girls have been rising to the occasion and assisting the country by becoming efficient for commercial work. This is splendidly illustrated by the recent results of the accountancy degree examinations, and those of the diploma in practical mercantile book-keeping granted by the Society of Accountants under examination conducted by the University of New Zealand. The candidate to top the list, and so obtain the coveted first honours place in all the dominion at the last examination was a lady, Miss Agnes Thompson. In a recent examination, also, for the final degree of the same body, a young lady, Miss I. L. Purvis, was second in all New Zealand, whilst another lady, Miss N. Cunningham, was second in order of merit in the bookkeepers' diploma examination. These candidates were prepared by correspondence by Messrs Hemingway and Robertson, of Auckland, the well-known teachers of accountancy, practical book-keeping, and business subjects by mail. - ODT, 15.3.1917.

Add a Comment