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What is a Green Tree Frog?

K. Willis
K. Willis

The green tree frog, Hyla cinerea, is a small, slender New World amphibian commonly known as the American green tree frog. It is found extensively throughout the United States, particularly in coastal regions, and is the official state amphibian of Louisiana. This type of frog is commonly kept as a pet.

The natural habitat of the green tree frog includes marshes, swamps, wet grasslands and vegetation surrounding bodies of water. This type of frog prefers overgrown areas, especially those with an abundance of aquatic vegetation. It is also commonly found in trees and bushes around ponds and lakes.


The green tree frog feeds on insects and small invertebrates. This frog can be seen performing amazing aerial displays as it leaps from its hiding place to capture a passing insect. The green tree frog is a frequent nighttime visitor to windowsills in urban and suburban areas as it hunts for prey. It also is a common visitor to bathroom facilities at camping grounds and elsewhere because it is attracted to insects near light sources.

The creature is primarily nocturnal and is most active after sunset. It can be found during the day, resting and motionless, on the underside of leaves or in heavily sheltered damp areas. The coloring of this species provides excellent camouflage, hiding its presence from both potential prey and predators, especially during sunlit hours when the frog is inactive.

This type of frog varies slightly in color but is generally a bright, vibrant green with a single, paler stripe down each side of the body; some have a conspicuous golden yellow spot on their back. The belly of the green tree frog is pale green or cream. Like many types of tree frog, this species has proportionately long toes with large, sticky pads that allow the creature to grip plants.

In the northern portion of its range, the breeding season is from April to September. In southern areas it is from March to October. Vast numbers of male frogs gather in groups during breeding season and call repeatedly to attract the interest of a female. The call of the green tree frog is loud and distinctive, sometimes described as resembling a cowbell. The female lays her eggs in shallow water filled with a dense covering of aquatic vegetation to offer protection against predation. The eggs are then fertilized by the male. Egg clutches can consist of up to 400 eggs. Fertilized eggs take approximately one week to hatch into tadpoles, and the tadpoles develop into mature frogs in another eight weeks.

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