The gray tree frog is one of the most popular tree frogs. They have the ability to change colors from the lightest of gray to green and even brown. Gray tree frogs are easy to care for as pets, which makes them a popular choice for amphibian enthusiasts. Continue reading to find out more about the gray tree frog needs and how to provide the best care.
What Are Gray tree frogs?
The gray tree frog (Dryophytes versicolor) is native to the eastern United States and southeastern Canada and is almost identical to the Cope's gray tree frog. These frogs vary in color and are able to change their color based on their substrate, they can change from gray to green, and sometimes they can turn almost black or white. Their change is slower than that of a chameleon.
What sets these tree frogs apart from other tree frogs is their unique leg pattern which is dark bands with bright yellow and orange under the legs and arms, which are visible when the frog jumps. This is also on the Cope's gray tree frog.
The gray tree frog lives mostly in trees, so you can find them in woody habitats. They can often be found in swamps, backyards, forests, and agricultural lands. They prefer moist habitats close to water. These frogs are under threat as their habitat makes way for roads, properties, and agriculture.
The gray tree frog can be found in most of the eastern United States. They can be found in northern California all the way to central Texas and in Canada.
As an adult, the gray tree frog can grow between 3.2cm and 5.7cm / 1.25” to 2.25” in length. They only reach full maturity when they reach two years. Males are typically smaller then females.
With proper care, a gray tree frog can live between 10 and 15 years in captivity.
Gray Tree Frog Quick Facts
Eastern gray tree frog, Northern gray tree frog, gray tree frog, or tetraploid gray tree frog
Male: 1.25 - 2 inches (32 - 51 millimeters)
10 - 15 years
12” x 12” x 18” (tall tank)
65 ºF - 85 ºF
Water dish, vines, branches, plants
Crickets, mealworms, waxworms, hornworms
Gray tree frog vs Cope's Gray tree frog
It is almost impossible to tell the gray tree frog apart from the Cope's gray tree frog. They look identical, they live in similar habitats with similar distribution. What sets them apart is their mating call.
The Cope’s gray tree frog has a shorter and faster mating call than the gray tree frog. Their calls are based on the temperature. The best way to identify if you have a gray tree frog or Cope’s gray tree frog is to count the pulses per second. The gray tree frog has between eighteen and 34 pulses per second, while the Cope's gray tree frog has between 34 and 60 pulses per second.
Are Gray tree frogs Poisonous?
Yes, the gray tree frog is poisonous, but this is very different from venomous. Venomous means the poison is given through a bite or sting. gray tree frogs secrete poison which covers their entire bodies, protecting them against any predators, which means you or your pets. The toxin skin secretion the frog secretes can irritate the nose, eyes, and lips, it can also irritate cuts and scrapes. Ensure you practice good hygiene if handling a gray tree frog by washing your hands thoroughly after handling, do not touch your eyes, and wear gloves where possible to reduce the risk of getting the secretion on your skin.
Are Gray tree frogs Good Pets?
The gray tree frog can make an interesting and fun pet, but not a pet that can be handled and cuddled. If you are happy with an amphibian pet you can watch from a distance, then you will love these small frogs, which can change color based on their surroundings and substrate.
Note that the gray tree frog can live up to fifteen years in captivity, so it is a long-term pet commitment.
Gray tree frog Setup
So, you've decided to keep gray tree frogs, the good news is that you can keep a number of these small frogs together, so the terrarium size you choose should be based on how many tree frogs you want to keep. A good rule of thumb is that a 12” x 12” x 18” enclosure is perfect for one or two gray tree frogs. If you want to keep more you will need to upgrade to at least an 18” x 18” x 24”.
You will need:
- Vines and branches
- Water dish – shallow is preferred
- Spray bottle for misting to manage humidity levels
- Thermometer to monitor temperatures
- Hygrometer to monitor humidity levels
Remember tree frogs prefer to be in a tree, so adding vines and branches all around the terrarium will give your frog or frogs plenty of places to climb and hide.
The gray tree frog is nocturnal, which means they come out at night to explore and hunt for food, but you will still want to provide some light to help them differentiate between day and night. Also, should you decide to decorate the enclosure with live plants, you will need to provide specific lighting to assist in growth.
The gray tree frog can live in temperatures between 50ºF and 90ºF. They are also known to live in freezing temperatures, but their preferred temperature is between 65 and 85 ºF. Using a small basking light can add the necessary heat, making it hotter at the top of the enclosure than on the bottom. This temperature gradient is essential to ensure your frog can regulate its body temperature with ease.
It is very important to provide ample hiding spaces if you choose to use a heat lamp, to enable your frog to escape from the direct heat and light.
There are a number of different substrates you can use when it comes to creating the optimal habitat for your gray tree frog. Even though these amphibians will spend the majority of their time in the branches and vines you have provided, you will need the substrate to help retain moisture and create a good starting point if you choose to plant live plants.
It is so important to select your substrate with care to reduce the risk of impaction. Impaction is constipation in amphibians and reptiles, often caused by eating some of the substrate while eating prey. The substrate doesn't digest and if not treated quickly, can result in death. For this reason, you want to stay away from sand and small gravel.
Coconut fiber is one of the safest and most natural substrates for your gray tree frog. This usually comes in brick form, which is soaked in water and then added to the bottom of the enclosure. It is excellent at retaining moisture to maintain humidity levels.
Gray tree frogs can handle a host of humidity levels, though they are happier with a humidity of around 50%, though a spike of eighty percent daily is appreciated. The best way to achieve this is through misting. You can mist daily, ensuring you monitor the levels on your hygrometer. Don't soak the enclosure, you just want to mist some water to boost humidity.
Whether you are filling the shallow water dish in the enclosure or you are misting, it is imperative you remember that the gray tree frog will absorb water through its skin. The skin is delicate and therefore toxins and chemicals must be avoided, so no tap water. You can use RO (Reverse Osmosis) water or purchase a water conditioner, which will remove any dangerous chemicals and toxins from the water before you use it. Ensure the water conditioner is recommended for amphibians.
The shallow water dish doesn't only provide water, it also helps to maintain humidity levels. Ensure you provide clean and freshwater daily.
Gray tree frog Diet And Supplements
What Do Gray Tree Frogs Eat
The gray tree frog eats a wide variety of insects, which includes:
Multivitamin is good gray tree frogs, especially baby and juvenile frogs as they grow rapidly during this stage. Dust the vitamin powder with crickets or mealworms before feeding to your gray tree frog.
Baby and juvenile gray tree frogs are under periods of rapid growth. Therefore, they should be fed every day to ensure proper development. Adult frogs can be offered every two or three days.
Gray tree frogs hide under barks or leaves during the day and active at night. Therefore, it is good to feed them at night where they are active to hunt for food.
How many crickets for each feeding? It depends on the size of the crickets. Usually, an adult gray tree frog can eat between 3 to 6 crickets.
If you worry the crickets can bite your frog, crush their heads before feeding to your frog.
Don't forget to gut load your insects before feeding to ensure you provide your gray tree frog with the best care to ensure that it remains happy and healthy in captivity.
Gray tree frog Reproduction
Male or Female
Have you brought your gray tree frog home and now you don't know if you have a male or female? The first thing you need to know is that the female gray tree frog does not call. She also has a white throat and tends to be larger than the males. The male will call and has a black, brown, or gray throat during the breeding season. He is usually smaller than a female.
Male gray tree frogs start their mating calls in the early spring, usually just after they come out of their winter hibernation. The males will then call from the trees to attract attention to the female. They position themselves close to water, such as streams and stagnant ponds.
Breeding your gray tree frog in captivity is a little more complicated and it will be based on temperature. The majority of reproduction takes place soon after the start of spring, even though the males will call for longer. These frogs can mate up to three times each breeding season.
When it comes to breeding season, the males get exceptionally territorial, they will fight with other males which can last up to ninety seconds. Interestingly it's the female that instigates the mating by approaching a male that is calling, she then touches him and rotates ninety degrees.
Up to two thousand eggs are deposited into the water, they stay in clusters and attach to what they can in the water until they hatch.
Tadpoles & Froglets
It doesn't take long for the gray tree frog’s eggs to hatch, which can happen anywhere inside three to seven days. How soon the eggs hatch will be determined by the water temperature. The embryo releases a fluid that breaks down the egg wall before hatching. The tadpole will develop based on water temperature, usually becoming frogs within 65 days and sexually mature within two years.