Gray Tree Frog

Gray tree frog with white background

Common Name

Gray Tree Frog

Size

Adult gray tree frogs measure between 1.3 and 2.3 inches (3.2 to 6.1 cm) in length. They mature at two years of age.

Appearance

As their name suggests, gray tree frogs are predominantly gray. There are bright orange or yellow flash marks on the insides of their legs. Gray tree frogs also have the ability to change color. They seem to change color depending on environmental conditions such as temperature, light intensity, and the color of their surroundings. This can cause gray tree frogs to be almost black, white, or even green. Juvenile gray tree frogs are often green in color and develop their adult gray coloration as they mature.

Distribution, Habitat and Behavior

Gray tree frogs are native to eastern North America. There are two different species: Hyla chrysoscelis and H. versicolor. The two species look identical and can only be told apart by their call, though like most frogs only males call. Gray tree frogs inhabit wooded areas and are common around forest openings near water. Here they are active at night, usually perched above ground. During the day they hide under bark and leaves, within crevices, or under other cover. They are often encountered by people who live near their habitat, found sleeping on the sides of houses or other structures.

Availability

Gray tree frogs are occasionally available at pet stores. More often they are kept by people who catch or find one in the wild. If you catch a tree frog and keep it in captivity it is best not to release it afterwards. Check with local regulations before catching a gray tree frog because most States have rules related to collecting amphibians or other wildlife.

Housing

Although gray tree frogs are not especially active during the day, at night they wake up and use all of the room they are provided with. A 20 gallon aquarium that measures 24 inches long by 12 inches wide by 16 inches high (61 cm x 30 cm x 41 cm) is large enough for two adult frogs. A tight-fitting screen cover is essential to prevent escapes. It may be helpful to cover all but one side of the aquarium with black poster board or an aquarium background to help the frogs feel secure.

The main components of the cage include a substrate, perches, and hide spots. Coconut husk fiber or other safe soil mixtures work best. You can also use moist paper towels or large river rocks as a substrate. Avoid aquarium gravel, small pieces of bark, or reptile cage carpeting because these substrates can cause health problems if accidentally ingested by the frog while feeding and/or do not hold adequate moisture.

Gray tree frogs are mainly arboreal and need a number of good perches and climbing branches. Driftwood, cork bark tubes, bamboo poles, or PVC pipe segments can be positioned at different angles in the cage for this purpose. Use live or fake plants positioned over perches as cover. Cork bark flats leaned against the side of the cage are also a good way to provide shelter for gray tree frogs.

Temperature and Humidity

Gray tree frogs are tolerant a wide range of temperatures and humidity levels. Healthy frogs will tolerate temperatures as low as 50°F (10°C) and as high as 90°F (32°C) briefly without harm. Ideally you should keep the enclosure between 68°F (20°C) and 78°F (26°C) during the day, with a slight drop in temperature at night. It may be helpful to place a low wattage heat lamp over one side of the cage, especially on cooler days, to offer a range of temperatures within the enclosure. It is also important to mist the terrarium with water. Spray the enclosure lightly several times a week or daily if the humidity level in your home is especially low.

Water

Provide a small water dish for gray tree frogs to soak in. It does not need to be too large but should allow frogs to fully soak in it at night, which they may often do. Chlorinated tap water is not safe for use and should be treated with an aquarium product that removes and neutralizes chlorine, chloramines and heavy metals a day before use.

Diet

Gray tree frogs have a large appetite. They accept most soft-bodied invertebrates including crickets, moths, flies, waxworms, small silkworms and earth worms. The majority of a gray tree frog diet should consist of live crickets. Offer crickets every two or three days. Usually between three and six crickets per frog is enough. Every few feedings, a different type of food can be substituted for crickets. Juvenile frogs should be fed more frequently than adults, as often as every day. Coat crickets and other food items in high quality powder vitamin and mineral supplements designed for reptiles and amphibians. These supplements help ensure nutritional requirements are met. Use them at every other feeding for adult gray tree frogs and at every feeding for juveniles.

2 Comments

  1. My daughter caught a gray tree frog and she wants to know what I should put in the tank for it to be like where it came from.

    • Hi Kyle,

      The tank should reflect the habitat of gray tree frogs–woodlands and forested areas near seasonal ponds. But, the setup doesn’t need to be made from natural items taken from outside. In fact, wood, plants, dirt or other items collected outside often don’t work as well as items more commonly used in terrariums sold at pet stores.

      Cage items should include a water dish large enough for the gray tree frog to soak in (remember to treat tap water with an aquarium water conditioner to remove chlorine and chloramines before use), a safe substrate like coconut husk fiber, leaf litter, sphagnum moss, or moist paper towels, and several perches/hide areas. A piece of driftwood or corkbark and some artificial (or live if you have lighting) plants will provide perches and cover.

      One of the most important parts of the environment is actually not the things that go inside the tank but environmental conditions like temperature. Make sure to use a thermometer to measure the temperature. Try to keep the lower areas in the high 60’s/low 70’s with a warm spot under a small lamp that reaches the high 70’s or low 80’s. Have your daughter move the thermometer around to different parts of the tank to see what the temperature is near the water, near the light, during the day and at night.

      Getting the temperature right, having good quality clean water available, and feeding a varied and well-supplemented diet are more important than the things that go inside the tank.

      Enjoy the treefrog,

      Devin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *