Hyla chrysoscelis/versicolor
LeConte 1825/Cope 1880

hī-lă — crī-sôs-ē'-lĭs/vĕr-sĭ'-kələr

Adult pair of from Wilson County. Image © Travis W. Taggart
An adult from Sedgwick County, Kansas. Photograph by Carl B. Davis ©.
An adult from Waubaunsee County. Image © Jim Scharosch.
An adult from Belle Plaine, Sumner County. Image © Cassie Murray.
A tadpole of Hyla chrysoscelis/versicolor. Image © Altig et al. (2006).

The two species of frogs are identical in appearance. 
Cope's Gray Treefrogs (Hyla chrysoscelis) vary in color from mottled gray to light green but their color can change depending on activity and environment. There is usually a light spot beneath the eye. The inner thigh is bright yellow or orange, but this is seldom visible without examination.
Like the Cope’s Gray Treefrog, the dorsal surface of the Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor) is rough and lightly sprinkled with warts. The ground color may be shades of brown, gray, or green, with stipple-edged black blotches. The large wet toe-pads help the frog to adhere to smooth bark or man-made structures.
Adults normally 32-58 mm (1¼- 2¼ inches) in SVL; largest Kansas specimen: female Hyla chrysoscelis (FHSM 8430) from Miami County with SVL of 54 mm (2½ inches) collected by Keith Coleman on 20 March 2004; maximum length throughout range: 2 3/8 inches (Conant and Collins, 1998).

Found throughout the forested regions of the eastern third of Kansas. An isolated record exists at in Pratt County and may represent an accidental introduction at the state fish hatchery.
The tetraploid Gray Treefrog is morphologically indistinguishable from the diploid Cope’s Gray Treefrog and both species occupy similar ranges, however, the Cope’s Gray Treefrog is more widely distributed in Kansas. Gray Treefrogs are known from the Verdigris, Marias des Cygnes, and Kansas River drainages in Kansas.
Collins and Hillis (1995) and Hillis et al. (1987) analyzed the chromosomes of both species throughout Kansas. They found H. chrysoscelis throughout the eastern third of Kansas. H. versicolor was found in the Cross Timbers, lower Neosho River basin, the Marais des Cygnes, and the lower Kansas river basins. They determined the specific status for the following specimens:
Hyla chrysoscelis: Chase Co.: KU 203673; Chautauqua Co.: KU 203710; Cherokee Co.: KU 33490, 203665-68, 203706-07, 203720-22; Coffey Co.: KU 203705; Crawford Co.: KU 203718-19; Douglas Co.: KU 16371, 16373-381, 203995-96, 203991-92, 203993-94, 203676- 79, 203712-714; Elk Co.: KU 203711; Franklin Co.: KU 203669-671, 204038; Greenwood Co.: KU 203701; Jackson Co.: KU 203690-94; Jefferson Co.: KU 17398; Johnson Co.: KU 203723-24; Leavenworth Co.: KU 21145; Marshall Co.: KU 49182-84; Miami Co.: KU 203672, 204037; Montgomery Co.: KU 203708-09; Neosho Co.: KU 203715-17; Osage Co.: KU 17681, 203689; Pottawatomie Co. : KU 203674-75; Riley Co. : KU 203698-700; Shawnee Co.: KU 203688; Wabaunsee Co.: KU 203695-97; Wilson Co.: KU 203680-87; Woodson Co.: KU 203702-04
Hyla versicolor: Atchison Co.: KU 203740-41; Bourbon Co.: KU 28672; Cherokee Co.: KU 28671, 31099, 203746; Douglas Co.: KU 8122, 22013, 203745; Elk Co.: KU 203742-44; Franklin Co.: KU 203735; Greenwood Co.: KU 22931; Jefferson Co.: KU 203732-34; Miami Co.: KU 21833, 22112, 203736-39

(, Museum Voucher) (, Observation) (, Literature Record)
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  • Occurrence Summary:  
  • 1,434 Total Records 
  • 713 Museum Vouchers 
  • 721 Other Observations 
Some county occurrences indicated below may be too imprecise to map above.
County Breakdown: County Name (# occurrences):
Allen (15); Anderson (1); Atchison (7); Bourbon (16); Brown (2); Butler (7); Chase (25); Chautauqua (12); Cherokee (212); Clay (9); Coffey (101); Cowley (1); Crawford (32); Dickinson (2); Doniphan (21); Douglas (221); Elk (8); Franklin (30); Geary (2); Greenwood (58); Harper (3); Jackson (56); Jefferson (18); Johnson (8); Labette (35); Leavenworth (59); Linn (78); Lyon (4); Marshall (8); Miami (48); Montgomery (52); Morris (1); Nemaha (10); Neosho (14); Osage (31); Pottawatomie (92); Pratt (1); Republic (2); Riley (10); Sedgwick (3); Shawnee (7); Sumner (5); Unknown (2); Wabaunsee (50); Washington (12); Wilson (19); Woodson (21); Wyandotte (3);

Natural History:
Chorusing is most frequent at night, but individuals often call during daytime in response to thunder or other loud noises. Eggs are laid in batches of ten to forty on the surface of shallow ponds and other small bodies of water. These are usually temporary bodies of water lacking fish. Eggs hatch in approximately five days and metamorphosis takes place at about 45-65 days.
The two species are best distinguished by their call during breeding season; the Cope’s Gray Treefrog having a faster trill. Found throughout the eastern third of Kansas.
Much of their activity is spent high in trees where they hide by day and forage for insects on humid nights. They are most often encountered during the breeding season when they call from vegetation surrounding wetlands in April and May. 
A specimen from Pottawatomie County contained a small cricket (Hartman 1906).

Occurrence Activity:
The blue dates denote chorusing actity. The red ates are other occurrences. The darker a date is, the greater the relative number of observations for that date.

Audio recording by Keith Coleman.

Chorusing Phenology: The black dots illustrate the actual Julian date (day of the year; 1 January = 1 to 31 December = 365) observations were made. The thin red line depicts the range of dates between the beginning of the first, and end of the fourth quartile (excluding outliers; Tukey method). The thick light blue bar represents the second and third quartile (interquartile range; the middle 50% of all observations). Only one observation per Julian date is included in the graphs; so a date with multiple observations carries the same weight as a date with only one observation. The vertical bars correspond to the 12 months of the year; January through December.
# Unique Obervations: 723; Range: 16 Mar to 22 Jul; Interquartile range: 29 Apr to 18 Jun;

First reported in Kansas by Cragin, (1880). The earliest existing specimen is from 1909 (MVZ 43356).
A complex of two separate, yet externally indistinguishable, species. For this reason they are included in the same account, however, it should be noted that this arrangement should not minimize their recognition as independent evolutionary entities.
Their skin secretions can be very irritating to the eyes, so wash your hands after you handle them.

1825 Le Conte, John E. Remarks on the American species of the genera Hyla and Rana. Annals of the Lyceum of Natural History of New York 1(2):278-282
1880 Cope, Edward D. On the zoological position of Texas. Bulletin of the United States National Museum (17):151
1906 Dickerson, Mary C. The Frog Book; North American Toads and Frogs, with Study of the Habits and Life Histories of Those of the Northeastern States. Doubleday, Page & Company, New York, New York. 253pp.
1906 Hartman, Frank A. Food habits of Kansas lizards and batrachians. Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science 20():225-229
1925 Linsdale, Jean M. Land Vertebrates of a Limited Area in Eastern Kansas. Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. 312pp.
1927 Linsdale, Jean M. Amphibians and reptiles of Doniphan County, Kansas. Copeia 1927(164):75-81
1928 Burt, Charles E. A new amphibian record from Kansas, Hyla phaeocrypta (Cope). Science 67(1747):630-631
1932 Gloyd, Howard K. The herpetological fauna of the Pigeon Lake Region, Miami County, Kansas. Papers of the Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan 15():389-408
1933 Smith, Hobart M. The Amphibians of Kansas Thesis. University of Kansas, Lawrence. 383pp.
1956 Loomis, Richard B. The chigger mites of Kansas (Acarina, Trombiculidae). University of Kansas Science Bulletin 37():1195-1443
1976 Caldwell, Janalee P. and Gregory. Glass. Vertebrates of the Woodson County State Fishing Lake and Game Management Area. Pages 62-76 in Preliminary inventory of the biota of Woodson County State Fishing Lake and Game Management Area. Report No. 5. State Biological Survey of Kansas, Lawrence. pp.
1977 Rundquist, Eric M. and Joseph T. Collins. The amphibians of Cherokee County, Kansas. Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence. 12pp.
1982 Fitch, Henry S. Resources of a snake community in prairie-woodland habitat of northeastern Kansas. Pages 83-97 in Herpetological communities: A symposium of the Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles and the Herpetologists League, August 1977.  Wildlife Research Reports 12. 239 pp. U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D. C. pp.
1985 Collins, Joseph T. and David M. Hillis Final report to the Kansas Fish and Game Commission on the Gray Treefrogs of Kansas. Contract #75. ():12
1987 Hillis, David M., Joseph T. Collins, and James P. Bogart Distribution of diploid and tetraploid species of Gray Tree Frogs (Hyla chrysoscelis and Hyla versicolor) in Kansas American Midland Naturalist 117(1):214-217
1987 Simmons, John E. Gray Treefrogs in Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (68):7
1991 Fitch, Henry S. Reptiles and amphibians of the Kansas ecological reserves. Pages 71-74 in Multidisciplinary Guidebook 4. Kansas Academy of Science, Lawrence. pp.
1992 Taggart, Travis W. Observations on Kansas amphibians and reptiles Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (88):13-15
1995 Moriarty, Emily C. and Joseph T. Collins. First known occurrence of amphibian species in Kansas. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (100):28-30
2000 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2000 fall field trip. Kansas Herpetological Society Newsletter (122):6-8
2002 Gubanyi, James E.. Osage County herp count I. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):15
2002 Miller, Larry L. Geographic distribution: Hyla chrysoscelis. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):14
2002 Miller, Larry L. Shawnee County herp count. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (4):15
2002 Riedle, J. Daren and A. Hynek. Amphibian and reptile inventory of the Kansas Army Ammunition Plant, Labette County, Kansas. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (2):18-20
2003 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2003 fall field trip. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (8):14-15
2005 Taggart, Travis W. Results of the KHS 2005 fall field trip [to Crawford County]. Journal of Kansas Herpetology (16):19-21
2006 Altig, Ronald, Roy W. McDiarmid, Kimberly A. Nichols, and Paul C. Ustach Tadpoles of the United States and Canada: A Tutorial and Key Electronic files accessible at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, MD, USA. ():
2006 Taggart, Travis W. Distribution and status of Kansas herpetofauna in need of information. State Wildlife Grant T7. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt. vii + 106pp.
2010 Miller, Larry L. 2010 Investigation of the Checkered Garter Snake in Kansas with notes on other Amphibians, Reptiles, and Turtles encountered. Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, Pratt, Kansas. 31pp.
2011 McMartin, David C. U. S. Army 2011 Fort Leavenworth Herpetofaunal Survey: 23 April - 09 May 2011. Privately printed, Leavenworth, Kansas. 33pp.
2012 Rohweder, Megan R. Spatial conservation prioritization of Kansas for terrestrial vertebrates. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 151pp.
2016 Pittman, Galen L., Henry S. Fitch, and W. Dean Kettle Vertebrate animals on the Fitch Natural History Reservation (1948-2002) Kansas Biological Survey Report Number 188, Lawrence. 48pp.
2017 Snyder, Ariel Survey Of Anuran Chytrid (Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis) in Kansas and the Influence of Anuran Life History in Occurrence. Thesis. Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas. 53pp.
2018 Carlson, Zane A. and Keith Geluso Second sighting of Cope’s Gray Treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis) in Buffalo County, Nebraska Collinsorum 7(1):18
Account Last Updated:
9/8/2019 2:49:24 PM

Travis W. Taggart © 2020 — Sternberg Museum of Natural History, Fort Hays State University