North American tree frogs are commonly called gray tree frogs in the United States. Europeans may call them North American tree frogs to distinguish them from the European variety. Some North American tree frogs are dull green, and the insides of their thighs are bright yellow. Regardless of their color, they are able to camouflage themselves to hide from predators.
Endemic to the eastern United States and Southeastern Canada, the gray tree frog is a highly adaptable creature. His habitat is ideally a tree somewhere near wetlands, rivers or lakes so he can have access to leaves, rocks and the burrows of small mammals. However, he can make his home in someone’s backyard pond just as well. The North American tree frog is happy as long as he has access to trees in which he can hide, a healthy food supply to satisfy his voracious appetite, and a body of water where he can mate and where females can lay their eggs.
The gray tree frog is resilient. He is able to adapt to different environments -- in part because he is able to tolerate more acidic water than other amphibians and reptiles can. Gray tree frogs can also withstand a wider range of temperatures. They will keep to trees during winter months, otherwise they prefer to hide beneath submerged vegetation in bodies of water -- be they backyard ponds or lakes.
As the name tree frog suggests, this is an arboreal frog. In captivity, the frog needs a tank that is taller than it is wide. Outside of his natural habitat, the range of temperature he can withstand is not as wide. He should be kept in temperatures that do not drop below 68 degrees F. His substrate should hold moisture and include coconut fiber, peat moss or live mosses. The moisture in such substrate increases the humidity in his artificial habitat. Substrates that contain aquarium gravel are not recommended -- the frog may eat it and choke. His artificial habitat should have branches and plants so he can climb and hide. He needs a large, shallow water dish that he can soak in and feel secure in.
The Cousin's Habitat
The Cope's gray tree frog is the North American tree frog’s cousin, endemic to the southern United States. Lookswise, both species are practically indistinguishable so much so that they were believed to be the same species some time ago. Their calls are different, however: The Cope’s gray free frog's is shorter and faster. The Cope's prefers to stick to woodland habitats and does not have the variety that the highly adaptable North American tree frog enjoys.
- Amphibian Care: Gray Tree Frogs (Hyla chrysoscelis and H. versicolor)
- Science Blogs: Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted); Gray Tree Frog
- Aquatic Community: Gray Tree Frog
- Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center: Checklist of Amphibian Species and Identification Guide; Gray Treefrog, Hyla versicolor; Cope's Gray Treefrog, Hyla chrysoscelis
- Savannah River Ecology Laboratory: Cope's Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis)
Vivian Gomez contributes to Retailing Today, the Daily Puppy, Paw Nation and other websites. She's covered the New York Comic Con for NonProductive since 2009 and writes about everything from responsible pet ownership to comic books to the manner in which smart phones are changing the way people shop. Gomez received her Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Pace University.