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Promoting Public Awareness Of Wildlife Habitats Through Environmental Education

Herpefauna of the Month!

Written by: Katrina Mari, 2012 Program and Outreach Coordinator

For those of you unaware what herpefauna is, it is made up of the amphibians (salamanders, toads, and frogs) and reptiles (lizards, turtles, crocodiles, and snakes) of the world. I would like to take this opportunity to talk about my favourite Ontario frog species; the Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor).

If you listen to the frogs calling in the spring at dusk you will hear its’ short trill. All of our frogs have slightly different calls and the reason for this is to attract a mate of the same species.

This species is slightly smaller than a leopard frog or green frog reaching lengths between 3 and 6 cm. Although their common name suggests they are gray, their scientific name, versicolor, suggests they are variable in colour and are able to be gray, green, white or black. They are able to change colour in order to camouflage in their environment to hide from predators. Gray Tree Frogs have yellow patches on the bottom side of their hind legs which are only visible when they are jumping.

The tree frog is mainly arboreal and inhabits forested areas by marshes, swamps, ponds, or lakes. Now, the reason it is my favorite species of Ontario frog is because of its feet! Tree frogs have suction cups on their hands and feet in order to stick to trees. With these feet they are able to stick to windows!

I suggest everyone go out with boots and a headlamp at dusk and find some calling frogs. You will be amazed with some you see. If you find a frog and want to identify it or report it, go to the Adopt-A-Pond Frogwatch website; . The Toronto Zoo also has a CD to identify the mating calls of all our frog species. So go out, learn and explore, it’s amazing what we don’t always notice!