Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis and Hyla versicolor)
The Cope’s gray treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) and the common gray treefrog (Hyla versicolor) are identical in appearance. Both have somewhat rough, warty skin; a whitish spot under each eye; large toe pads; and bright orange or golden-yellow spots on the underside of each hind leg. In the laboratory, the two species can be distinguished by their chromosomes, with the common gray treefrog having twice as many as the Cope’s gray treefrog. In the field, they can be differentiated by their breeding calls.
Cope’s gray treefrogs are widespread throughout most of North Carolina and Virginia. Common gray treefrogs have been documented only in Warren and Caswell counties in NC, however, they have been documented in many counties throughout Virginia. Individuals of both species are capable of rapid color change; they may be gray, brown, greenish or nearly white. Their color-changing capabilities, along with their rough skin, provide these treefrogs with excellent camouflage when perched on tree branches or bark. Both species descend from trees to breed in many types of ephemeral and permanent aquatic habitats. Eggs are laid at the water’s surface in small masses of 30 or 40, usually attached to vegetation. Tadpoles transform in about six to nine weeks.
Both species call from April to August. Cope’s gray treefrogs have a harsh, rapid trill; common gray treefrogs have a trill that is often slower and more melodic.
The bright yellow or orange on the underside of each hind leg is believed to startle or confuse predators