Gray Treefrog
Hyla versicolor

Common Name:

Gray Treefrog

Scientific Name:

Hyla versicolor



Hyla is Greek and means "belonging to the woods".


versicolor is derived from the Latin words versi which means "various" and color which means "color".

Average Length:

1.3 - 2 in. (3.2 - 5.1 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

Record length:

2.4 in. (6 cm)

*Note: Our two native gray treefrogs are identical in appearance. In the field the only two ways to distinguish H. chrysoscelis from H. versicolor is by their call and in some cases geographic location.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: This species is identical in appearance to Hyla chrysoscelis but they do not interbreed *1014*. These two species can be distinguished by chromosome number and by male mating call *1014* *11407*. This species is tetraploid *11407*. It has 48 chromosomes and 3 or 4 nucleoli per cell *1014*. Both species are well camouflaged *1014*. They are usually gray but coloration ranges from gray to whitish to brown to green dependent upon environment and activities *11407* *1014*. There is a whitish mark beneath the eyes and a bright orange or yellow on the concealed surfaces of the hind legs *11407* *1014*. The dorsal skin is warty *11407*. This species ranges in length from 32 to 62 mm (1.25-2.5 in).

REPRODUCTION: Males call between March and August *11406*. The call of this species is a slower trill than that of Cope's gray treefrog, 25 trills per second *1014*. Breeding generally occurs from March to June *11406*. The female lays clumps of 10 to 40 eggs per group on the surface of shallow ditches, puddles, and ponds *1014*. Females may lay more than one clutch in a season *11284*. In one study, it was found that 25.7% of the males in an area mated successfully. Those males that were successful averaged 1.11 matings each *11406*. Eggs typically hatch in 4 to 5 days, and metamorphosis occurs in 45 to 64 days. Newly transformed froglets range from 13-20 mm *1014*. This species generally reaches sexual maturity at 2 years of age *11406*.

BEHAVIOR: This species is not often seen on the ground or near the water's edge except during the breeding season *11407*. It tends to forage while in small trees or shrubs near to or standing in water *11407* *1014*. This species is an opportunistic feeder focusing primarily on larval Lepicoptera, Coleoptera, and other arthropods *11284*.

ORIGIN: Native

LIMITING FACTORS: This species is fairly arboreal; foraging from trees and shrubs in the vicinity of water *11407*. Breeding occurs in shallow waterbodies *1014*. In general, this species requires shallow ponds with fallen branches or herbaceous growth on the water's edge *11284*.

POPULATION PARAMETERS: A study of the amphibian population of a South Carolina lake found only 1 specimen of H. versicolor *11406*.

AQUATIC/TERRESTRIAL ASSOCIATIONS: This species is not often found near the water or on the ground except during the breeding season *11407*. They forage while in trees or shrubs near to or in standing water *1014*. This species is typically associated with the following forest types: black willow, sweet gum-willow oak, white oak-red oak-black oak and mixed pine-hardwood *11284*. They are frequently found in recently disturbed areas with shrub and herbaceous cover.

References for Life History

  • 1014 - Martof, B.S., Palmer, W.M., Bailey, J.R., Harrison, III J.R., 1980, Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia, 264 pgs., UNC Press, Chapel Hill, NC
  • 11284 - Wilson, L.A., 1995, Land manager's guide to the amphibians and reptiles of the South, 360 pp. pgs., The Nature Conservancy, Southeastern Region, Chapel Hill, NC
  • 11406 - Duellman, William E. and, Trueb, Linda, 1986, Biology of Amphibians, 671 pgs., The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore
  • 11407 - Conant, Roger and, Collins, John T., 1998, Peterson Field Guide: Reptiles and Amphibians, Eastern/Central North America, 616 pgs., Houghton Mifflin Company;, Boston


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