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What Time is it in Nature: Green Tree Frog

October 22, 2013

Even though the weather is starting to cool down, we are still running into frogs now and then at Prairie Ridge.  One of the frogs you might hear or encounter when you visit is the brightly colored Green Tree Frog (Hyla cinerea).

Green tree frog

Green Tree Frogs are large as tree frogs go, reaching lengths of up to 2.5 inches.  The frogs are typically bright green, though the coloration can vary from olive to a pale green.  Most individuals also have gold or orange spots scattered along their backs and have a yellow or ivory stripe along the jawline and sides that separates the green upper surface from the white belly.  One important characteristic to look for is the large toe pads at the tips of their toes.

Green Tree Frogs are common in the coastal plains of North Carolina, but have just started moving into the Piedmont as well.  You can typically find them (sometimes in great numbers) along the edges of wetlands or in swampy areas.  At Prairie Ridge, we see or hear them around the pond or at the small garden pond near the bird feeders, especially at night when the frogs are actively searching for insects as food and members of the opposite sex to mate with.  During their breeding season, normally from April–September, you can hear their loud and distinctive “queeeeenk! queeeeenk!” call at night.  During the day, however, Green Tree Frogs become much more secretive and hide in damp leaves and other moist, hidden places.

Green Tree Frogs will happily take up residence inside PVC pipes during the day.  This means that scientists or resource managers can easily sample Green Tree Frog populations by placing PVC pipes upright in the ground in wetland areas and recording the frogs they find inside.  We have several “frog pipes” on the Prairie Ridge grounds that are monitored by volunteers.  Please feel free to sneak a peek inside the pipes to see if there’s a frog lurking inside!

Thanks to our longer-than-usual summer, we are still seeing some late Green Tree Frog activity at Prairie Ridge.  Come by sometime soon and see which late season reptiles and amphibians you can find!

What Time is it in Nature is a weekly feature highlighting the current plants, animals, and other wildlife at the Musuem’s public outdoor facility, Prairie Ridge Ecostation. Find out more about the natural happenings at Prairie Ridge at our What Time is it in Nature Archive!

(Photos by Chris Goforth)

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