Wild Thing - Shirlene Chadick
October 2003

Hyla cinerea

Green Treefrog

A bashful Nature Center inhabitant, with whom you may not be familiar is the Green Treefrog (Hyla cinerea). Green Treefrogs reside in the Trinity River Bottoms, Blackland Prairie, Mesquite Grand Prairie, and Post Oak Belt. The name of the genus comes from the Greek hyla, "belonging to the woods".

This is a moderately large treefrog, ranging in size from 1.25" to 2.25", and males are slightly smaller than females. They are usually bright green, but color can vary from greenish-gray (when dormant during cool weather) to yellowish green (males when calling). They often have a white or yellowish stripe running down the body on either side, but the length and width of the stripe varies widely between individuals, and is absent in some populations. It has the long legs and rounded toepads characteristic of treefrogs.

Habitat & Behavior
Green Treefrogs make their homes in swampy edges of watercourses; on taller water plants in ditches or pools; on lily pads, trees, bushes or vines at the edges of lakes. The frogs may be on the bushes and stems above the water, but more frequently they are at the water's level. They perch by day on upright plants with their legs tightly tucked under their body.

This frog prefers to walk rather than jump, although it takes awkward leaps into space when fleeing a predator in the trees.

The Green Treefrog call has been described as a series of "quonks" or as a "queenk-queenk-queenk" with a nasal inflection. Their voice has been described as cowbell-like when heard from a distance.

When the weather is hot and humid, or especially during mating season, some of the immense choruses are very noisy. A single note is first heard, and as if that were a signal, it is taken up and repeated by a dozen noisy throats until the air is resonant with sound. After a time, calling ceases as suddenly as it began, to be resumed again after a period of quiet. The chorus may travel along the margin of a lake for considerable distances.

Depending on weather conditions, this frog breeds from March to October. When their eggs are mature, the females enter the water and are clasped by the males in the process called amplexus. As the female lays the eggs, they are fertilized by the male's discharged seminal fluid. The eggs are in small packets or films at or near the surface, attached to floating vegetation. The eggs hatch in 4-6 days, and live as tadpoles for about 60 days.

Food habits
These treefrogs are carnivores (insectivores). They are sometimes found on houses around windows or outside lights, where they pursue insects attracted to the light.

Green Treefrogs are one of the most common and abundant treefrogs of the southeast. They occur throughout the Deep South, ranging from east-central Texas up the Mississippi Valley to southern Illinois, and around the Gulf Coast and up the Atlantic Coast to the Coastal Plain of the upper Mid-Atlantic States

Websites for frog information:

Cross Timbers Chapter, Texas Master Naturalist, Inc.   9601 Fossil Ridge Rd.   Fort Worth TX 76135

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