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The Facts About Gray Tree Frogs

Updated on April 24, 2015

The Gray Tree Frog's Scientific Name: Hyla Versicolor

Tree frogs are unusual, beautiful and an interesting part of the frog family. An adept climber, the tree frog can be found at the tops of trees, climbing up your window and in my case sitting on a railing 15 feet above the ground.

I observed this little fellow climbing the window the evening before I got this picture. I was in awe that he could climb straight up a flat, smooth window using the little round pads on his feet.

Note: The frog pictured could be a female (there are only small differences between the the sexes), I didn't note the details so I am just saying "he" though it could also be "she".

Isn't nature fascinating?

This is my first meeting with a tree frog. Don't ask me why... guess I just never looked carefully enough. This sighting gave me an excellent opportunity to learn about this little guy...and he is quite little, but still interesting.

He can climb to the tops of trees... All I can say is: "Wow"...must be he likes the view from way up there!

What Special Features does a Gray Tree Frog Have?

  • A distinctive star pattern on it's back
  • The ability to change color to camouflage changes slowly to adapt to it's surroundings
  • The ability to scale glass with it's sticky toe pads.
  • Able to create glycerol to keep from freezing solid in winter in cold climates

As beautiful as amphibians get...this fellow is pretty charming!
As beautiful as amphibians get...this fellow is pretty charming! | Source
This was a treat to see...I had never seen a frog in a tree!
This was a treat to see...I had never seen a frog in a tree! | Source

Specifics About the Gray Tree Frog

The tree frog has been called adorable. I do think this is one amphibian I would give that "quality" to. Considering I don't generally think "cute" as applying to frogs..that is a compliment.

The Gray Tree Frog is Ontario's largest tree frog ( it also is located in many North Eastern states) The little guy weighs a whopping 7 grams (about .25 oz) and 3 to 5 cm in length ( approximately 1.5 to 2.75 inches long)

Living mostly in trees, they eat gnats, mosquitoes, any bugs within their reach... worms, even snails and other smaller frogs... if they can catch them.

In turn, tree frogs are eaten by birds, raccoons, skunks and snakes, which explains why the tree frog is mostly nocturnal (when it's predators are asleep)! Of course raccoons are nocturnal, so tree frogs are never completely predator free..

Tree frogs are an indication of biodiversity and health of the ecosystem in the area they inhabit.... Tree frogs in an area are an indication the ecosystem is healthy.

Why? They are ultra sensitive to toxins, which are readily absorbed through their skin. The result is they die off before larger animals when an ecosystem deteriorates from pollutants. They are the "canary" in an ecosystem.

Tree frogs and frogs are essential in an ecosystem. They do their part controlling insects.and are quite this particular tree frog made sitting outside in the evening a whole lot more pleasant!. Plus they look great on a window at night against the dark night as they go after insects attracted to light inside!

Remember it is absolutely important to wash your hands "before" touching a tree frog or any frog. Even trace amounts of lotions and sunscreen are harmful since these amphibians will absorb the chemicals through their skin causing them harm.

Tree frogs do not drink water...they absorb moisture through their skin.

Habitat of a Tree Frog

Tree frogs inhabit all elevations in an forested area. Their habit must include some sort of water nearby to lay their eggs. The tadpoles hatch in three to seven days. The water needs to be quiet such as a swamp, pond or quiet shores of a lake and be relatively predator free.

The frogs begin to mate in late April or early May when temperatures rise above 15 degrees Celcius. The tree frogs wake from their hibernation from under rotted logs and piles of dead leaves where they have been semi-frozen all winter. The glycerol they produce keeps them from dying.

Their breeding season can extend to early July depending on the weather and climate. The males are particularly vulnerable at this time because predators locate them as they chirp their mating calls. Females tree frogs are luckier since they are silent. Generally, tree frog populations have more females than males because of this hazard!

The female chooses her mate.. the one that sings the loudest and longest and survives! The couple meet in quiet waters where the female lays from 1000 to 2000 eggs... the male fertilizes them.

That is the extent of their parental responsibilities. The tadpoles are on their own!

The egg mass separates into tiny clusters of 30 to 40 eggs and attach to available plants or objects in the vicinity. In three to seven days the tadpoles hatch and feed on algae and debris in the environment.

They need to keep away from fish, their main predator, but are also prey to big bugs and other frogs in the water before they can go on land and become new tree frogs and continue the cycle of reproduction.

If the young frogs make it to their second year they are mature and able to reproduce and continue doing their bit for the ecosystem.

How many tree frogs are out there? An Informal Poll...

Have you ever seen a real-life tree frog?

See results


Submit a Comment
  • Scribenet profile imageAUTHOR

    Maggie Griess 

    2 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Hi Virginia, We have trimmed boughs from the pines and I no longer have the opportunity to observe the tree frogs, so I am glad I was able to get these photos. Thank you for your comment :)

  • Virginia Allain profile image

    Virginia Allain 

    2 years ago from Central Florida

    I summer in New Hampshire, so now and then I see a gray tree frog in my yard. We are surrounded by huge pines and maples. I found the frog challenging to photograph.

  • Scribenet profile imageAUTHOR

    Maggie Griess 

    7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Colourful howler monkeys? Yes, sounds like a potential Hub!

  • DrMark1961 profile image

    Dr Mark 

    7 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

    The ones in my bathroom are greyish, just like the one in the photo. We have colorful howler monkeys around here though, does that count?

  • Scribenet profile imageAUTHOR

    Maggie Griess 

    7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    I did see this one climb the window...but I didn't catch that on camera. It is quite something to see one on a smooth surface. What amazed me about this little guy is he jumped from a railing into that tree...had it missed it would have been a long drop! I bet you have many colourful frogs in your area! I'd love to see a Hub on them!

  • DrMark1961 profile image

    Dr Mark 

    7 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

    I live on the Costa de Cacau (The Cocoa Coast--goes with another hub, right?) and have seen these little guys climb up the smooth tile walls in my bathroom. After a feat like that, climbing a rough tree seems easy.

  • Scribenet profile imageAUTHOR

    Maggie Griess 

    7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Eidden...the tree frog is certainly I was surprised to discover we have one in Canada. :)

  • Eiddwen profile image


    7 years ago from Wales

    So very interesting.


  • Scribenet profile imageAUTHOR

    Maggie Griess 

    7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Hi Alicia! The tree frog's little feet are really cute...especially when this little guy is on the window...wish I had caught a photo!

    Thank you for commenting! So appreciated1

  • AliciaC profile image

    Linda Crampton 

    7 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

    The gray tree frog is a lovely animal and you've written a lovely description, Scribenet. I think that amphibians can be cute, and this little fellow is a good example of cuteness!

  • Scribenet profile imageAUTHOR

    Maggie Griess 

    7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Hi aviannovice! Yep...I agree...thought I would never say this about a frog...but I am a convert to frog beauty... :)

    Thank you for your comments!

  • Scribenet profile imageAUTHOR

    Maggie Griess 

    7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Hi drbj! I could not believe my eyes when I saw this little fellow...especially in a tree...why didn't he fall out and why was he up there in the first place? Not being a real "frog person" I became an admirer of this little guy when I learned how valuable he/she is.

    I appreciate your comments...always valued! :)

  • aviannovice profile image

    Deb Hirt 

    7 years ago from Stillwater, OK

    What a gorgeous little frog. I never knew about this one.

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 

    7 years ago from south Florida

    I don't think I have ever seen a tree frog, just ordinary land-loving frogs. But now thanks to you, Scribenet, I know much more about them. Thank you for these fascinating details.

  • Scribenet profile imageAUTHOR

    Maggie Griess 

    8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Hi grandmapearl! You are fortunate to have many around both for the bug control aspect and knowing you live in an unpolluted area.

    If you do see one...they are worth watching because they are so agile. This one leapt into a tree from the railing...considering it's size and the distance...well it was interesting.

    Thank you for the comments...always appreciated!

  • Scribenet profile imageAUTHOR

    Maggie Griess 

    8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Hi Peggy! I was shocked to discover that frogs are so sensitive that lotions can harm them, who would have thought? I have more respect for these little creatures being a warning alarm of environmental pollution so if you see one...that is a very good sign!

    Thank you for your comments and the share :)

  • grandmapearl profile image

    Connie Smith 

    8 years ago from Southern Tier New York State

    I learned a lot from this well-written and informative article. We have tree frogs that surround us with song all summer long, but I cannot honestly say that I have ever actually seen one. Voted this Up, Interesting, Awesome and Useful. Thanks for sharing all this cool info.

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    8 years ago from Houston, Texas

    I have seen little green looking tree frogs in Houston, Texas on not sure if they are of the same species as the gray tree frogs. I had no idea that the tree frogs did not have to drink because of absorbing moisture through their skin...nor that we should probably never touch them for fear of passing on things that could harm them. Very interesting hub! Voted that and more + will share.


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