Gray Treefrog in Louisiana
Amphibian: Hyla chrysoscelis-versicolor
Gray Treefrogs are interesting looking little frogs that are often found living near human habitats. There are actually two species of Gray Treefrogs which occur in the Southeastern United States (including Louisiana). The Common Gray Treefrog (Hyla veriscolor) and Cope's Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) are almost impossible to tell apart visually, so they have been grouped as one and are called Hyla chrysoscelis-versicolor.
Gray Treefrog photos by Y.L. Bordelon, All Rights reserved
Many of the photos seen here can be purchased in Naturegirl7's Zazzle Shop as print-on-demand products such as posters, cards, apparel, mugs, etc.
Two species of gray treefrog live in Louisiana, but they are difficult to tell apart.
Identifying Gray Treefrogs
A medium sized treefrog, reaching 2 3/8 inches with granular or warty gray skin; various shades of gray or brown or green with irregular dark blotches. The rear thighs are yellow or yellow orange. Hyla chrysoscelis-versicolor occurs all over Louisiana. There are 2 species of gray treefrog (Cope's gray treefrog, Hyla chrysoscelis and Common gray treefrog, Hyla versicolor) but it is extremely difficult to tell them apart, without hearing the call or by examining the cells under a microscope. So because of the difficulty in visually identifying the two, they have been grouped as one until a more reliable identification method is developed.
Singing in the Rain Poster
Gray Treefrog in Bird House
Habits and Habitats of the Gray Treefrog
Gray treefrogs are found throughout the southeastern United States. They are forest dwellers, but during breeding can be found in pastures and open areas. In winter, they are usually in vegetation and under cover. One lived in a bird nest box by our pond for 2 winters.
Cope's gray treefrogs are more often found around urban areas, in birdhouses, around swimming pools and in potted plants. H. versicolor males will "sing" from high in the trees, while H. chrysoscelis seem to prefer lower vegetation. They eat insects, both aboreal and others like: beetles, caterpillars, roaches, crickets and probably moths, too. Common gray treefrogs can withstand having much of the water in their bodies frozen for many days.
Calls of the Gray Treefrogs
Listening to the calls is the easiest way to distinguish between the two species of gray treefrog.
When approached by another male, gray treefrogs will give a "chow, chow, chow, chow" call which resembles a hen turkey calling to her mates.
Males sing from mid March to early September. Breeding occurs in farm ponds, woodland pools, shallow wetlands and ditches. Males sing from the ground or from perches, especially during the warm, spring rains. Up to 2000 eggs are laid in shallow water in groups of 6 to 45 that may be attached to vegetation or floating free. Tadpoles can reach about 50 mm in length and are splotched with some larger ones having red finned tails. Baby frogs are about 13-20 mm long. The larval period is from 45 to 65 days.
Gray treefrogs often use our uncovered rain barrels during courtship, but to our dismay, we discovered that the slick inside to the barrels could be a death trap. A simple remedy to the problem of the tired frogs not being able to leave the rain barrel is to place a piece of bamboo in the rain barrel. Bamboo will last for years and gives the male frogs a good place to perch when singing to attract a mate.
Save Gray Tree Frogs
Predators and Defenses
The gray treefrog has many predators. Adults are eaten by several species of snakes including juvenille rat snakes and water snakes, as well as raccoons, skunks and opossums. Tadpoles are eaten by dragonfly larvae, large aquatic beetles and salamander larvae. However, they are not without a defense mechanism. Studies have shown that gray treefrog tadpoles use chemical cues to sense the presence of fish. The skin of adult treefrogs exudes a mucus that is an irritant to some predators. The secretion is very painful when it comes in contact with human eyes and nasal cavities. The bright yellow patches on the groin and thighs are believed to startle birds, giving the treefrogs time to escape.
Reference: Dundee and Rossman, the Amphibians and Reptiles of Louisiana. LSU Press, 1989 and Dorcus and Gibbons, Frogs and Toads of the Southeast.
Frogs and Toads of North America - With CD of Calls
Decipher the cheeps and trills of 36 species of frogs and toads native to eastern North America with this book and audio guide.
Gray Treefrog Calling Video
Frog and Toad All Year - Book and Tape
The delightful stories in the Frog and Toad series of I Can Read Books are wonderful for beginning readers. There is a tape so that the child can follow along and learn new vocabulary.
- Quiz: Amphibians of Louisiana
If you like frogs and other amphibians, then you may enjoy taking this Louisiana amphibians quiz. You'll also find good photos and information about amphibians including frogs, toads and salamanders.