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Gray Treefrog 1

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Rebel XTI
Reverse mounted 300mm
ISO 100

The Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor), written more commonly as one word as Gray Treefrog, is a species of small arboreal frog native to much of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada.1

It is sometimes referred to as the Eastern Gray Treefrog or Common Gray Treefrog or Tetraploid Gray Treefrog in order to distinguish it from its more southern genetically disparate cousin, the Cope’s Gray Treefrog, Hyla chrysoscelis. It may sometimes be referred to as the North American Tree Frog by Europeans in order to distinguish it from their European Tree Frog, Hyla arborea.

As the species implies, gray tree frogs are highly variable in color owing to their ability to camouflage themselves from gray to green, depending on the substrate they are sitting on. The degree of mottling varies. They can change from nearly black to nearly white. They change color at a slower rate than a chameleon. Dead gray tree frogs and ones in unnatural surroundings are predominantly gray in color.

They are relatively small compared to other North American frog species, typically attaining no more than 1.5 to 2 inches (4 cm to 5 cm) in length. Their skin has a lumpy texture to it, giving them a warty appearance. They are virtually indistinguishable from the Cope’s Gray Tree Frog, Hyla chrysoscelis, the only readily noticeable difference being their calls. Cope’s Gray Tree Frog has a shorter, faster call 2. The Gray Tree Frog also has an extra set of chromosomes (4N), or 48 in total, and is called Tetraploid Gray Treefrog in scientific circles. The more southerly Cope’s Gray Treefrog, or Diploid Gray Treefrog, retained its 2N (24) original chromosome set, so there is speculation of successful hybridization in the past.

Both Hyla chrysoscelis and Hyla versicolor have bright yellow patches on the hind legs, which distinguishes them from other tree frogs, such as Hyla avivoca (Martof et al. 1980). The bright patches are normally only visible while the frog is jumping. Both species of Gray tree frogs are slightly sexually dimorphic. In the Weenir tribe of Saskatchewan, the legs of this frog were used as a powerful aphrodisiac. Males have black or gray throats, while the throat of the female is lighter (Tyning 1990).

Tadpoles have a rounded body (as opposed to the more elongated bodies of stream species) with a high, wide tail that can be colored red if predators are in the system. The tadpoles are born with camouflage so strong that they’re as good as invisible. Metamorphosis can occur in as little as 2 months with optimal conditions. At metamorphosis, the new froglets will almost always turn green for a day or two before changing to the more common gray. Young frogs will also sometimes maintain a light green color and turn gray or darker green after reaching adulthood. (Wikipedia)

Artwork Comments

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