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Grey Tree Frogs

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Hyla versicolor, commonly know as the Gray Tree Frog or the Eastern Gray Tree Frog, is an amphibian that is referred to as the "Chameleon of the Frog world" (Craighead, 2004, p.1) because of its ability to change colors. "This frog was once thought to be the same species as the Cope's Gray Tree Frog". They can only be distinguished by their calls and the fact that the Cope Gray Tree Frog is diploid while the Gray Tree Frog is tetraploid (NPWRC, 2004). The Gray Tree Frog is classified as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Lissamphibia

Order: Anura

Family: Hylidae

Genus: Hyla

Species: H. versicolor

The Grey Tree Frog is about two inches in length. Its head is short and broad and its body corpulent (Dickerson, 1969). With a white belly, white rectangular spot under both of its eyes, yellowish orange markings on the inside of the hide legs and black blotches including one that looks like an irregular shaped star on its back this frog is very colorful and exotic looking. Depending on the environment and the stress level of the frog, its colors may change (, 2004). H. versicolor may actually be any shade of brown, grey, green, or even light yellow or white. The temperature and the intensity of light also affect the frog's colors. When there is bright light and a higher temperature perhaps it will be a yellowish white with almost no markings. When it's dark and moist it may be a dark stone gray with dark markings (Dickerson, 1969).

The frog's back is usually textured with coarse tubercles. Its fingers are thinly webbed while the hind foot is more developed. Large disks exist on the fingers and toes to assist with climbing and sticking to objects (Dickerson, 1969). The male and female Grey Tree Frogs are very similar. They are distinguished by the male having a dark underside of his throat. Also the females ears are smaller then the males (Dickerson, 1969).

The Gray Tree Frog can be found anywhere ranging from southern Ontario in Canada to the southern coast in the United States. Usually it is not found west of Texas or Manitoba, Canada. The can be found at Rice Creek Field Station. The best habitat is shallow water situated close to diverse stands of willows, oaks, and pines (Craighead, 2004, p. 2). The location of water and plenty of vegetation, which not only shades the forest but also covers the ground with broken brushwood, is what needed for the frog's ultimate survival is. Since water is needed for reproduction, the species will generally occur near a stable water source. Outside of the breeding season they will mostly be found in terrestrial surroundings, making them difficult to locate. During hot days they tend to hide on or beneath rough tree bark, in hollow trees and on leaves (Craighead, 2004). They tend to leave damp vegetation only if the temperature rises above 60 degrees Fahrenheit and for breeding. H. versicolor tends to be very territorial and have a strict sense of locality. They can remain in the same place for weeks or months at a time.

This species eating habits are quite normal for the type of amphibian group it belongs to. It is an opportunistic feeder that eats whatever it can find, including insects, spiders, plant lice, snails, mites and other invertebrates. Even though they could easily find their meals in the trees they tend to occupancy, they will often come down to the ground in order to locate other food. Their tongue is sticky and quickly snaps up their pray. This species tends to have an assortment of vertebrates and invertebrates such as the giant water bug as predators. Tadpoles are the staple food source of various aquatic invertebrates. Yet the ability to camouflage keeps the frog fairly protected (, 2004).

Hyla versicolor's breeding season lasts from early April through August but it does vary depending on location. By the time this species reaches the age of three, they will be sexually mature. "Solid colors, normally green, are most likely to occur during the breeding season" (NPWRC, 2004). The males begin calling at the water site when night air temperatures reach about 60 degrees. It's said that their calls resemble music and are more like a bird's song then a typical frog call (Craighead, 2004). This birdlike buzzing attracts the females to the site and the frog's then breed in the water. Afterwards between 700 and 3,800 eggs may be produced and are laid in the water attached in small clusters (about 30 to 40) to grasses or plant stems at the surface of the water. The eggs are very light in color, grey to light brown above and white below and measure just about 1/25- inch in diameter (Craighead, 2004). They hatch on the second or third day at a very early stage in development. Tadpoles are then about ј inches and light yellow. The very rapid growth process proceeds so that in about three weeks tadpoles are fully formed and have the hind legs starting to develop. They have widely separated eyes that are flame color and swim very rapidly. Come the end of seven weeks the metamorphosis is complete and they leave the water. The yellow coloring of the body and legs doesn't appear until after the frogs leave the water (Dickerson, 1969). Young frogs normally stay near the breeding site until the end of the summer.

The Gray Tree Frogs are arboreal and can tolerate high temperatures fairly well. They are mostly active during the summer when the humidity is high and also at dusk and night (Craighead, 2004). They are nocturnal and they hibernate in the winter months. They tend to burry themselves underneath



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