Pine Woods Treefrog
Hyla femoralis

Common Name:

Pine Woods Treefrog

Scientific Name:

Hyla femoralis



Hyla is Greek and means "belonging to the woods"


femuralis is Latin meaning "pertaining to the hind leg" Referring to the leg markings found on this species.

Average Length:

1 - 1.5 in. (2.5 - 3.8 cm)

Virginia Record Length:

Record length:

1.8 in. (4.4 cm)

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: This is a slender hylid species reaching lengths of 25 to 38 mm (1-1.5 in). It is typically a reddish brown color with dark dorsal markings though color may range from pale gray to dark brown. A distinguishing characteristic is a group of small orange, yellow or whitish spots on the rear of the thigh *1014* *11407*. Breeding males have a very distinctive "dot-and-dash" call which has earned it the name of the "morse code" frog *11332* *1014* *11407*.

REPRODUCTION: This species breeds in late spring and summer in shallow ponds, ephemeral ditches, and sometimes in cypress swamps *11284* *1014*. Breeding males call from trees in standing water *1014*. The breeding call is a low, guttural "getta, getta" that resembles the dot-and-dash of morse code *1014* *11407*. Large choruses sound like a series of riveting machines operating simultaneously *11407*. The female lays films of 100-125 eggs on the water surface or just below on stems and other objects *1014*. Tadpoles metamorphose in 50 to 75 days. Young frogs are approximately 13mm long *1014*.

BEHAVIOR: This species is described as an "arboreal acrobat" *11407*. It frequently climbs high into the treetops but can also be found at lower levels and even on the ground *11407*. During the breeding period, males call from trees in standing water. This species hides during the day and overwinters beneath the bark of downed pine trees *11284*. Its diet consists of beetles and other insects. This species is the most terrestrial of the southeastern treefrog species.

ORIGIN: Native

LIMITING FACTORS: Typically found in pine flatwoods and savannas near bogs, ponds, and other wetlands *11407* *1014* *11284*. This species is occasionally found in hardwood forests and swamps *1014*.


AQUATIC/TERRESTRIAL ASSOCIATIONS: This species is found in pine flatwoods and savannas typically near bogs and ponds *11407* *1014*. It is occasionally found in hardwood forests and swamps *1014*. It is a Coastal Plain species *11332*. This species is the most terrestrial of the treefrog species, sometimes found far from standing water *11284*.

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
  • 11332 - Mitchell, Joseph C. and Karen K. Reay, 1999, Atlas of Amphibians and Reptiles in Virginia, Num. 1, 122 pgs., Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Richmond, VA
  • 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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