The Grey Treefrog (Hyla versicolor)

31 Oct

A quick thought on a amazing frog species.

If it isn’t apparent by now, let me just go ahead and say it: I love treefrogs (or Hylids, as they’re sometimes called.) This enthusiasm all began during my upbringing in New England with one particular species: The Grey Treefrog (Hyla versicolor.)

Now, Grey Treefrogs are extremely personable and enjoyable as-is; but what originally drew me to them was the mental connection between their call and the “roar” of “Gihdora” from the old Godzilla movies (In retrospect, not so much. Compare  and )


But that said: These treefrogs have quite a bit more to them than an offhand (and, I assume purposeful on God’s part) reference to a 1960s movie monster. They are a species that prefers to call from in plants with some source of water below. In my many nights pursuing them in Connecticut, I nearly always encountered them in shrubby swamps, but seldom if ever in more mature swamps with a dense tree canopy: It’s entirely likely in fact that succession may be a big factor in the local declines of Grey Treefrog populations.

They often call in the spring and into the summer, but often taper off as the season stretches on. In fact, even on rainy nights later in summer in New England I rarely hear them calling. A short spring shower, however, will get the party started for this joyfully-chorusing frog. They are actually fairly small in size: I was shocked that I didn’t remember this after a spring trip back to Connecticut when I rediscovered that they are dwarfed by the likes of Green and Barking Treefrogs (Hyla cinerea and gratiosa,respectively); coming in at only a little longer than an inch snout-vent length.

Interestingly enough, Grey Treefrogs are visually indistinguishable from Cope’s Grey Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis.) The only reliable way to differentiate between the two is by their call or their DNA. There are actually many species that thanks to genetic work scientists are discovering are actually groups of species and not single species: these species are called Cryptic species and many birds, salamanders, frogs and inevitably many other species once thought to be single species are actually proving to be groups of cryptic species. Fortunately for field biologists, herpers, birders and others such as myself, the fact that a species status is ambiguous does not detract from the sheer pleasure of viewing them in the field.


Posted by on 31/10/2011 in Species Profiles


2 responses to “The Grey Treefrog (Hyla versicolor)

  1. R.G

    01/11/2011 at 1:44 am

    Always enjoy your writing.

  2. Tamara Ducote

    01/11/2011 at 11:36 am

    Ditto that, regarding the writing. That first photo is WOW.


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