Barking Tree Frog

 

Hyla-gratiosa or barking treefrog

Hyla gratiosa AKA: barking tree frog Image by: Fredlyfish4 on wikimedia commons 2CC BY-SA 3.0

The barking tree frog, or Hyla gratiosa, is a common tree frog species found in the southeastern United States.

Description:

The barking tree frog has a green, gray, or brown plump body with bumpy “goose bump-like” skin. There are sometimes yellow flecks upon its back or light stripes upon its sides. They are the largest tree frog species in the southeastern United states and are usually 5 to 7 centimeters long. Males are the more colorful sex and have the larger vocal sac.

Location:

Barking tree frogs can from southern Virginia all the way to Florida (except in the Everglades and Keys) and Louisiana. They reside mainly in the coastal plain, although specimens have been found in Kentucky, Tennessee, and even New Jersey.

Habitat:

Land and water. They favor treetops during warm weather, underground during dry weather, and during the breeding season, populations congregate at ponds, streams, and other forms of permanent bodies of water.

Diet:

Hyla gratiosa are carnivorous, consuming beetles and various arboreal insects, like crickets. They have large, greedy appetites and an inclination to overeat and become obese if overfed whilst in captivity.

Breeding:

Females select their breeding partner based on their call. During the breeding season, which lasts from March to August, females will breed only once, but males will do so up to seventeen times. For those who do not think that frogs can have a romantic side, know that breeding choruses often form on rainy nights. (Everybody, even animals, know that wooing is most effective during a romantic rainstorm.) It takes about 1 week for hatching to take place, and both males and females reach sexual maturity after four years, on average.

Parenting style:

None. After laying the eggs, neither male nor female barking tree frogs “raise” their young. Instead of caring after them to ensure that they grow into maturity, females typically just deposit a multitude of eggs to raise the chances of her reproductive success.

Behavior:

Barking tree frogs are nocturnal, solitary animals that spend the day in treetops, hibernate when it is cold, and aestivate during hot and dry times. (“Aestivate” is similar to hibernation in that it is a period of inactivity that is undergone to protect the animal from the effects of the elements. In this case, instead of protecting themselves from the cold, they are protecting themselves from the heat to avoid dessication by burying themselves deep underground where it is cooler and wetter.

Predators:

Hyla gratiosa are preyed upon by birds, snakes, and raccoons after they reach maturity. Frog eggs and larvae are often eaten by fish.

Lifespan:

In captivity, barking tree frogs can live for up to seven years. Outside of captivity, not much is known about the life span of Hyla gratiosa.

Ecosystem role:

Little is known about their effect on their environment, but they do help keep the insect population in check and their burrowing can help aerate the soil. They are also a food source to larger creatures, such as the ones listed in the above section.

 

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