Cope's (Southern) Gray Treefrog
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Appearance: The southern species of the broadly ranging gray treefrog complex is essentially identical in appearance to its northern congener, Hyla versicolor. In most of the Southeast, however, only the southern species, H. chrysoscelis, is present, making discrimination of the two species easy. Although highly variable in appearance, Gray Treefrogs generally have a gray to olive green ground color dorsally, usually with blotches in a camouflage-like pattern of different shades. A prominent light spot is usually present below the eye. The most distinguishing characteristic of this species is found on the hidden surfaces of the hind legs and lower body, which are washed with bright orange or yellow. This character can usually only be seen when the frog is climbing or is in the hand. This treefrog is a moderately large species, growing up to around 5 cm. (2 in.) in length.
Habits and Habitat: Cope's Gray Treefrog can be found in forested habitats where water is present, prefer woody, shrubby vegetation for calling and feeding, and are most frequently found calling at night from bushes at the water's edge. During the day, gray treefrogs will retire to a small tree or shrub in a shady spot where they will remain almost motionless (and nearly invisible) until rains or nightfall. Winter retreats of this species are typical of most treefrogs and include rotten stumps and logs, underground burrows, and cavities beneath the loose bark of trees.
Vocalization: The call of Cope's Gray Treefrog is best described as a rapid, harsh trill. Males call from bushes near water at night from early spring until high summer, and occasionally from ground level at the water's edge immediately before breeding. In large choruses, antagonized males will frequently emit their aggressive call: a rapidly produced, high-pitched call resembling creaky bedsprings. (Chorus includes Spring Peeper).
Reproduction/Egg Description: Gray Treefrogs breed in backwaters of slowly moving streams, depressions in fields, roadside ditches, puddles, and small ponds. The vitellae of the eggs are small and gray or white and are laid in small clusters attached to vegetation at the edge of water.
Distribution and Abundance: Locally very common and occurring in large groups when breeding and where habitat requirements are met, but probably widely dispersed and difficult to detect during non-breeding season. Cope's Gray Treefrogs are found throughout the Southeast, from central Texas eastward to the Atlantic coast, and southward to the Gulf coast and mid-peninsular Florida.
SE ARMI Index Sites: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.