Cope's Gray Treefrog
Hyla chrysoscelis

Common Name:

Cope's Gray Treefrog

Scientific Name:

Hyla chrysoscelis



Hyla is Greek and means "belonging to the woods".


chrysoscelis is derived from the Greek words chryso which means 'gold' and kelis which means "a spot". This refers to the orange-yellowish spotting on the inner thigh.

Average Length:

1.3 - 2 in. (3.2 - 5.1 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

Record length:

2.4 in. (6 cm)

*Note: Our two native gray treefrogs are identical in appearance. In the field the only two ways to distinguish H. chrysoscelis from H. versicolor is by their call and in some cases geographic location.

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: This species is identical to Hyla versicolor in appearance but they do not interbreed *1014*. The two gray treefrog species can be distinguished genetically and by breeding call *11407* *1014*. H. chrysocelis is diploid *11407*. It has 24 chromosomes, and each cell has 1 or 2 nucleoli *1014*. The male mating call of Cope's gray treefrog (H. chrysoscelis) is shorter, harsher and more forceful than H. versicolor. It is a faster call averaging 45 trills/second *1014* *11407*. This species is generally slightly smaller than H. versicolor *1014*. Both species of gray treefrogs are well-camouflaged with colors ranging from gray to whitish, brown or green *1014* *11407*. This variation is dependent upon activities and environment *11407*. There is a whitish mark beneath the eyes, the concealed surfaces of the hind legs are bright orange or yellow *1014* *11407*. Dorsal skin is warty *11407*.

REPRODUCTION: This species breeds between May and August and is usually not found outside of this period *1014*. During breeding season, the two species of gray treefrogs can be distinguished by their calls. The call of Cope's gray treefrog is described as a short vibrant flute-like trill of 45 trills per second. The call is also described as being shorter, harsher and more forceful than the call of Hyla versicolor *1014*. Females lay scattered clumps of 10 to 40 eggs on the surfaces of shallow ditches and small ponds. These eggs hatch in 4 or 5 days. Metamorphosis occurs in 45 to 64 days with newly transformed treefrogs measuring 13-20 mm long *1014*. This species generally reaches sexual maturity at 1-2 years of age *11406*. This species may have two clutches per season *11406*. A study found that males that spent more nights calling had greater mating success. It was also found that late in the breeding season, the probability of obtaining a mate increased due to the presence of fewer males at the breeding pond site *11406*. Another study found that 34.7% of a population of males successfully mated for an average of 1.28 matings per successful male *11406*.

BEHAVIOR: This species is more arboreal and is more tolerant of low humidity than H. versicolor *1014*. Its diet consists of insects which are foraged from trees, shrubs, and off the ground preferably near water *11407* *1014*. This species is an opportunistic feeder. Typical prey items include larval Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, and other arthropods *11284*. Gray treefrogs are not often found on the ground or near waters' edge except during the breeding season *11407*.

ORIGIN: Native

LIMITING FACTORS: Eggs are laid in shallow bodies of water including ditches, ponds, and puddles *1014*. They primarily forage while in trees or shrubs near to or standing in water *11407*. This species requires shallow standing water with fallen branches or extensive herbaceous vegetation on its banks *11284*.


AQUATIC/TERRESTRIAL ASSOCIATIONS: Breeding occurs in shallow bodies of water including ditches, ponds, and puddles *1014*. This species forages while in trees or shrubs near to or standing in water *11407*. This species is typically associated with smal ponds, ditches, beaver ponds or other standing water. It is frequently found in areas that have been recently disturbed but contain shrubs, herbaceous vegetation, and/or vines *11284*. OTHER:

References for Life History

  • 1014 - Martof, B.S., Palmer, W.M., Bailey, J.R., Harrison, III J.R., 1980, Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia, 264 pgs., UNC Press, Chapel Hill, NC
  • 11284 - Wilson, L.A., 1995, Land manager's guide to the amphibians and reptiles of the South, 360 pp. pgs., The Nature Conservancy, Southeastern Region, Chapel Hill, NC
  • 11406 - Duellman, William E. and, Trueb, Linda, 1986, Biology of Amphibians, 671 pgs., The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore
  • 11407 - Conant, Roger and, Collins, John T., 1998, Peterson Field Guide: Reptiles and Amphibians, Eastern/Central North America, 616 pgs., Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston


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