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eastern gray treefrog

Hyla versicolor

What do they look like?

The average size of Eastern Gray Treefrogs is between 1 1/4 to 2 3/8 inches (3.18-5.22 cm). Eastern Gray Treefrogs have very warty, rough skin and rather large toe pads that are very sticky because of the slimy mucus they produce. They range in color from greenish or brownish to grey and adults have several large, dark blotches on their backs. Also, there is often a dark-edged light spot under their eyes. Eastern Gray Treefrogs also have a bright yellow or orange coloring on the inside of their thighs that they can flash at predators to confuse them when they are under atack. Male and female treefrogs look the same except that the underside of the males' chins is much darker. This is because they have sacs in their throats for calling during mating season and females do not.

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Average mass
    7.175 g
    0.25 oz
  • Range length
    3.18 to 5.22 cm
    1.25 to 2.06 in
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    0.00433 W

Where do they live?

Eastern Gray Treefrogs are only native to the Nearctic region. They can be found throughout the eastern United States and southern Ontario, but are not present in southern Florida or Maine. Their range extends westward to Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota.

What kind of habitat do they need?

Because Eastern Gray Treefrogs need temporary pools or permanent water for breeding, they live in forested areas that are in or near permanent water. During the summer months they tend to live in moist areas in hollow trees or rotted logs. In winter they hibernate under tree roots and leaves.

How do they grow?

Eastern Gray Treefrogs follow the same developmental pattern that is found in most frogs. Eggs are laid in shallow pools and tadpoles emerge after a few days. The tadpoles are small and somewhat fishlike in appearance. After 2 to 2.5 months they transform, or metamorphose, into young frogs. Grey Treefrogs are almost always bright green right after metamorphosis and they stay this way for some time before taking on their adult coloration.

How long do they live?

Eastern Gray Treefrogs can live to be 7 to 9 years old.

  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    7.0 to 9.0 years
  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    7 years

How do they behave?

Eastern Gray Treefrogs are nocturnal, which means they are only active during the evening and night. They live high in trees or shrubs. They are easily found during breeding season, but very rarely seen the rest of the year. They have the ability to change color from grey to green or brown depending on activities and the environment.

In the winter, Eastern Gray Treefrogs bury themselves beneath logs, leaves and dirt. About 40% of their body can freeze during the winter. They keep their blood stream from freezing by producing an antifreeze-like fluid called glycerol. The rest of their body fluids usually become frozen during hibernation.

How do they communicate with each other?

Eastern Gray Treefrogs have a shrill, chirp-like call. It lasts for about a second and repeats on 3 or 4 second intervals. Male Eastern Gray Treefrogs call most often during mating season.

Cope's Gray Treefrogs and Eastern Gray Treefrogs have slightly different calls. This is in fact one of only two ways in which they can be told apart. Cope's Gray Treefrogs make roughly between 35-70 notes per second, while Eastern Gray Treefrogs only make about 17-35 notes per second.

What do they eat?

Eastern gray treefrogs forage on the ground and in vegetation for small insects, spiders, mites, and snails.

  • Primary Diet
  • carnivore
    • eats non-insect arthropods

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Eastern gray treefrogs are a source of food for a wide variety of predators, such as skunks, opossums, raccoons, and snakes. These predators vary depending on where the frogs live.

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Eastern Gray Treefrogs, like most frogs, eat a huge amount of insects and therefore play a big role in controlling their populations.

How do they interact with us?

Tree Frogs feed on insects!

Are they endangered?

Eastern Gray Treefrogs are not currently an endangered species. However, many frog and toad species are currently on a steady decline, often due to pollution and habitat loss. The best thing to do to ensure the survival of treefrog species is to monitor their populations and to protect their habitats.

Some more information...

There are actually two separate species of grey treefrogs, Eastern Gray Treefrogs and Cope's Gray Treefrogs. These two species only have two differences. The only noticeable difference is in their mating calls. Eastern Gray Treefrogs have a slower trill than Cope's Gray Treefrogs. The other difference is in the number of chromosomes. Cope's Gray Treefrogs are diploid and Eastern Gray Treefrogs are tetraploid. Because of this, researchers suspect that Eastern Gray Treefrogs may have evolved from Cope's Gray Treefrogs.

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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. "Hyla versicolor" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 20, 2024 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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