Barking Tree Frog (Hyla gratiosa)

I know most frogs make some kind of noise, but I always thought they made ribbit noises — that’s what all my childhood books taught me. But according to its name, the barking tree frog is a bit different. Apparently it thinks it’s a dog.

Barking tree frogs can be found in the southeastern part of the US, from Virginia to Louisiana. They spend part of their time in land and part in water, and also have a fondness for trees. They can usually be found in the canopies of trees, especially when it’s warm out. When the air is too dry, barking tree frogs come down from the tree tops to dig into the moist ground.

A barking tree frog hanging out on some... bark. Looks pretty cute, doesn't it?  Image source: Harris Neck NWR via

A barking tree frog hanging out on some… bark. Looks pretty cute, doesn’t it?
Image Credit: Harris Neck NWR via

As far as tree frogs go, barking tree frogs are pretty large; in fact they’re the largest species of tree frog in the US. They are thick and a little bit chubby looking, and can reach 7 cm in length. They have very rough looking skin, that can change colour from bright green to brown. Barking tree frogs have numerous black spots on their back, and a light stripe that runs form the jaw to the back of the body. Their feet are tipped with rounded pads that help the frogs climb trees.

Mating occurs from March to August, with groups of males gathering near streams or ponds to call for females. Up to twenty-five males can be gathered at one site. The calls that male frogs make at breeding sites aren’t quite the barking calls they are named for. The barking call is used when the frogs are high in the tree tops. It does sound a bit like a bark, but with a distinctly froggy tone to it. You can hear an example of the frog’s call on wikipedia, here:

This one is also enjoying his time on some bark, in some nice sunshine.  Image source:

This one is also enjoying his time on some bark, in some nice sunshine.
Image source:

Females are attracted to males with the loudest calls, but only of the males close to them. Female tree frogs only mate once per mating season, but the males are much more promiscuous, sometimes mating up to seventeen times a season. After she’s mated, the female frog will lay up to 2000 eggs in the pond. The eggs hatch after about a week, and take a month or two to metamorphose into frogs. Once they reach adulthood, it takes a further four years for the young to become sexually active.

Although I’m fairly disappointed that these frog aren’t actually some kind of dog-frog (that rhymes!) hybrid, I’m still pretty excited that they can bark. After all, what’s better than learning that something you thought you knew from childhood isn’t 100% true?

Cover Image Source:


One thought on “Barking Tree Frog (Hyla gratiosa)

  1. At least our pond is not colonized by barking dog-frogs. My neighbors’ barking dog-dogs provide all the barking I can take! 🙂

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