Cope's Gray Treefrog

(Hyla chrysoscelis)

Cope's Gray TreeFrog


Kentucky’s two kinds of Gray Treefrogs are identical in appearance - both range to just over 2 inches long as adults and have large sticky toe pads that allow them to climb on just about any surface. Both have granular (almost warty) moist skin, a light-colored spot below each eye, and bright yellow to orange coloration (mottled with chocolate brown or black) on the normally-concealed inner thighs. There is often a large irregular star-shaped dark splotch on the back but this can come or go and some individuals are uniformly whitish, light gray, or some shade of green. The overall coloration of any one frog can vary considerably and often matches the color of the background - whitish to gray or charcoal if the frog is resting on a tree trunk, or pale green to dark green on foliage. A Gray Treefrog can change color dramatically in a matter of minutes. “Tree Toad” is another name often used for these treefrogs. 

Cope’s Gray Treefrogs occur statewide and have been documented from every Kentucky county. These treefrogs mate and lay their eggs from April through the middle of August, mostly in small ponds, ditches, and temporary pools but also in water-filled tire ruts or water that collects on swimming pool covers on rainy nights. Backyard Koi ponds, plastic wading pools, clogged gutters, and rain barrels are often used as breeding sites in neighborhood habitats. The eggs are deposited in small thin floating packets and hatch after just a few days, and within eight to ten weeks the tiny froglets begin to leave the water. Where the ranges overlap, Cope’s Gray Treefrogs and Eastern Gray Treefrogs sometimes use the same breeding pond but the calls of both species are easy to distinguish by sound where they are calling together. Sometimes we hear intermediates; these are probably hybrids. 

The call of Cope’s gray treefrog, is a loud, harsh, rapid trill, tolerable when heard at a distance but quite unpleasant at close range. 

The pulse rate of the trill is slow at lower temperatures but speeds up as the temperature rises. Each individual male pauses for one to several seconds between calls.