Gray Treefrog
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Online Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Connecticut

Gray Treefrog - Hyla versicolor


A granular-skinned tree frog reaching 2 inches (5.0 cm) snout to vent length (see photo at right). The coloration is highly variable, though most specimens are grayish with black markings on the back. Some specimens are green, occasionally completely lacking dorsal patterning. Individuals change color readily, though some seem to do so more readily than others. All color phases have yellowish orange on the inner thigh, and a white line connecting the eye to the corner of the mouth. At right, profile of Hyla versicolor (note the yellow groin coloration characteristic of this species).



The species breeds in late spring to early summer, generally in vernal pools or other temporary waters. In farming areas it will often breed in horse troughs or even buckets of water left standing overnight. Eggs are laid on vegetation at the water’s surface in clumps of 15 to 35 eggs (see Klemens 1993). The larvae have yellowish orange tails.



Hyla versicolor tadpole from Canaan, Connecticut.
This metamorph Gray Treefrog from Canaan, Connecticut, is typical of the species and is green. In some areas of the U.S. this juvenile color is retained into adulthood, but in Connecticut the green fades to the typical gray coloration.




The call is a musical trill similar to the call of a red-bellied woodpecker. Males will often call toward late afternoon from resting points high in trees. | Listen



Uses many habitats, but especially moist deciduous forests. It can also be found in upland habitats, even resting on rocky cliff faces by day. Its coloration camouflages it well against either tree bark or lichen-covered rock.



Feeds primarily on insects and other invertebrates.



Found throughout much of the eastern United States. In Connecticut it is found sporadically throughout the state with populations known in every county.



Though not listed as a threatened species, its dependency on vernal pools and shrubby wetlands has resulted in apparent decline in populations. Klemens (1993) warns that land development and habitat destruction may be causing serious damage to populations of this species by reducing the number and quality of suitable breeding grounds.



The only true tree frog in the state of Connecticut.



Conant, R. and J.T. Collins. 1991. A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians: Eastern/Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 450 pp.

Klemens, M.W. 1993. Amphibians and Reptiles of Connecticut and Adjacent Regions. Hartford, CT: State Geological and Natural History Survey of Connecticut Bulletin 112. 318 pp.



Text by Gregory J. Watkins-Colwell.
Photographs (tadpole) © Gregory J. Watkins-Colwell. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Photographs (metamorph) © Twan Leenders. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Animals featured in photographs on this page are from Connecticut.

Audio files from The Calls of Frogs and Toads [book and CD-ROM]
Published March 2004 by Stackpole Books; 1.800.732.3669.
© 1994 Lang Elliott/NatureSound Studio
All rights reserved. Used by permission.