The Robinson Library >> Science >> Zoology >> Reptiles and Amphibians >> Order Anura
Eastern Gray Treefrog

Hyla versicolor


Relatively large for a treefrog, the eastern gray is 1.25-2.5 inches long; both sexes are the same size.

gray treefrog

Eastern gray treefrogs range in color from greenish or brownish to gray and adults have several large, dark blotches on their backs. Green colors are more prominent during the breeding season and in yearling frogs, and coloration tends to become darker when it is cold or dark. There is usually a white mark beneath the eye. The ventral skin on the hind legs, in the groin region, may appear orange to golden yellow with black speckles and the belly is white.

Distribution and Habitat

The range of the eastern gray treefrog extens from Manitoba east to Maine and south to northern Florida and central Texas. Its habitat includes swamps, ponds, lakes, old fields, thickly wooded suburban neighborhoods, farm woodlots, and mixed or deciduous forests, as long as there is permanent water in the area. During the summer months, they are most often found in damp rotten logs or hollow trees. In winter, gray treefrogs hibernate on land under woody debris such as logs, roots and leaf litter.


As tadpoles, eastern gray treefrogs graze on algae and detritus in their pond. Adults prey upon most types of insects and their larvae. Mites, spiders, plant lice, harvestmen, and snails are also eaten. They usually hunt for insects and larvae in the understory of wooded areas in small trees and shrubs, but like most frogs they are opportunitistic and may also eat smaller frogs, including other tree frogs.


Breeding season runs from April to August. Males will gather in trees and bushes next to breeding ponds and swamps and begin calling. Warm, cloudy nights, from dusk to midnight, produce the most intense choruses. The male will aggressively defend its territory from intruders. The female selects a mate based on its call. Fertilization of the eggs is external. As many as 2,000 eggs are laid at one time. Almost immediately, the large egg mass breaks into small, loose egg clusters of 10 to 40 eggs that attach to plants or other structures within the pond. Female investment in her offspring ends once the eggs are deposited.

Depending on the water temperature, the tadpoles hatch in three to seven days. The tadpoles are small (1,25-1.5 inches long) and somewhat fishlike in appearance. The background color is light green to yellow and heavy black dots are scattered along the margin on a red or orange background across the tail. They metamorphosize into froglets in six to eight weeks. The young frogs are approximately 0.6 inches long. Gray treefrogs are almost always bright green right after metamorphosis, and they stay this way for some time before taking on their adult coloration.

eastern gray treefrog tadpole

Scientific Classification

phylum Chordata
subphylum Vertebrata
class Amphibia
order Anura
family Hylidae
genus & species Hyla versicolor

Animal Diversity Web

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The Robinson Library >> Science >> Zoology >> Reptiles and Amphibians >> Order Anura

This page was last updated on June 15, 2017.