American green tree frog
The American green tree frog, Hyla cinerea, is a common species of New World tree frog belonging to the genus Hyla. A common backyard species, it is popular as a pet, and is the state amphibian of Georgia and Louisiana.
Description[edit source | edit]
The frog is green, medium-sized, and up to 6 cm (2.5 in) long. Their bodies are usually green in shades ranging from bright yellowish-olive to lime green. The color can change depending on lighting or temperature. Small patches of gold or white may occur on the skin, and they may also have a white, pale yellow, or cream-colored lines running from their jaws or upper lips to their groins. They have smooth skin and large toe pads. Their abdomens are pale yellow to white. Males have wrinkled throats (indicating the vocal pouch) and are slightly smaller than females.
Distribution and habitat[edit source | edit]
These frogs are found in the central and southeastern United States, with a geographic range from the Eastern Shore of Virginia to southeast Florida, with populations as far west as central Texas, and as far north as Maryland and Delaware. The frogs are considered monotypic, but clinal variation has been observed from Florida north along the Atlantic coastal plain. This possibly may be attributed "to the result of strong selection and/or drift."
Green tree frogs "prefer habitats with plentiful floating vegetation, grasses, and cattails" and are often found in "small ponds, large lakes, marshes, and streams also can be found at night in a backyard swimming pool.
Behavior[edit source | edit]
This species of tree frog is nocturnal.
Breeding[edit source | edit]
Most American green tree frog females breed once per year, but some have multiple clutches in a single mating season. In a Florida population, "advertisement calls of males were documented between March and September and pairs in amplexus were observed between April and August." In the Florida population, the average number of offspring in a single clutch was observed to be about 400 eggs. Eggs take between four and 14 days to hatch, with an average of five days. According to the Animal Diversity Web at the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, "Female size was positively correlated with clutch size, but after the initial clutch, the number of eggs nearly always decreased."
Breeding is known to be strongly influenced by day length, temperature, and precipitation." While "the relative influence of these factors is not well understood," it is known as the frogs generally breed following rainfall, and males call more frequently as temperature and day length increase. Some evidence demonstrates the length of the breeding season length is correlated with latitude, with season length decreasing as latitude increases due to temperature limitations.
Males use a distinct advertisement call, "noticeably different than [sic] release or warning calls," to attract mates. Once a mate has been attracted, the pair begins amplexus, in which "the male tightly grasps onto the female to bring their cloacal openings close together for fertilization." Males are polygynous, generally seeking to mate with as many females as they can attract.
Feeding[edit source | edit]
American green tree frogs are insectivores, usually consuming flies, mosquitoes, and other small insects such as crickets. One study suggested the frog selects prey not by its size, but according to its activity level, with the most active prey being the most frequently eaten. The same study showed "nearly 90% of Hyla cinerea prey were actively pursued," with the other 10% being "insects walking or close enough to be snatched up by the frog's tongue."
As pets[edit source | edit]
The frogs are popular pets because of their small size, appearance, and the undemanding conditions needed to take care of them. Unlike many amphibians, they do not require artificial heating. They need a large (at least ten-gallon) terrarium and do best with a substrate that will hold some humidity, such as commercial shredded bark or coconut husk bedding, or untreated topsoil on the floor of their terrarium. Tree frogs are arboreal, so the height on the tank is more important than the length. A variety of things for climbing, such as plants or branches, should be in the habitat. A shallow water dish should be included.  Captive frogs should not be handled any more than necessary; when necessary, clean gloves should be worn.