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Pine Woods Treefrog


Photo Credit: Chris Evans, University of Georgia, www.forestryimages.org

Scientific Name: Hyla femoralis

Description: A small, slender treefrog reaching a maximum size of 1.8 inches. Background color is usually brown or reddish but can also be gray or green, depending on temperature and activity. Dark, irregular blotches may be present on the back. A dark stripe is often present from the nostrils, through the eyes, to the forelimbs. The rear portion of the thighs is covered in orange and yellow spots.
 
Distribution: The pine woods treefrog is a Coastal Plain species, ranging from Virginia, south through Florida, excluding the Everglades, and extending westward to eastern Louisiana. In Alabama this species is found in the Coastal Plain areas; however, disjunct populations (separated from the main range) occur above the Fall Line in Alabama as far north as Shelby County.
 
Habitat: Pine woods treefrogs primarily inhabit the forested areas of the Coastal Plain, although they may also occur in adjacent open areas. They are usually associated with longleaf pine habitats such as pine flatwoods. Breeding habitats are typically temporary pools or wetlands including grassy ponds and cypress wetlands, although they will also use road-side ditches and barrow pits. Breeding usually does not occur in habitats where fish are present. Outside of the breeding season, this species spends much of its time hiding in trees throughout the forest.
 
Feeding Habits: They are ambush predators that feed primarily on small insects and other invertebrates.
 
Life History and Ecology: Pine woods treefrogs are most active during the warmer months with breeding taking place from as early as late March through early September. Males usually call from vegetation in or around breeding wetlands, especially during or after a rain event. The call is distinctive and often compared to Morse code or riveting machines. Throughout the summer, males may be heard giving a slower call from their perches in the tops of trees.
 
Females can lay up to 2,000 eggs, typically in clusters of 100-250 eggs that are attached to grasses and other vegetation just below the water’s surface. The eggs will hatch in a few days and metamorphosis occurs in 1.5-2.5 months. Tadpoles are usually dark green to brown with a light belly and dark stripes on the tail musculature. Their tail fins are typically bright red or orange with dark blotches. Tadpoles reach a length of 1.5 inches before transforming. 
 
References:
 
Dorcas, M. and Gibbons, W. 2008. Frogs & Toads of the Southeast. University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA. 238 pp.
 
Jensen, J. B., Camp, C. D., Gibbons, W., Elliott, M. J. 2008. Amphibians and Reptiles of Georgia. University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA. 575 pp.
 
Mount, Robert H. 1975. The Reptiles and Amphibians of Alabama. Auburn Printing Company, Alabama. 347 pp.
 
Author: Aubrey M. Heupel, Wildlife Biologist, Alabama Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, January 2011

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