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The Herps of La Crosse

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Cope's Gray Treefrog 

(Hyla chrysoscelis)



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Description: Cope's Gray Treefrog looks very similar to the Gray Treefrog in size and coloration.  It has been suggested that the Cope's has less mottling than the Gray and is generally more green than gray or brown.  Like the Gray Treefrog, these frogs have partially webbed feet with distinct toepads and are small to medium sized frogs.  They are members of the family Hylidae, which includes most treefrogs worldwide.  Within Wisconsin, they are most closely related to Eastern Gray Treefrogs, with whom they share the same genus (Hyla).


Habitat/Ecology:  Cope's Gray Treefrogs are said to prefer the edges of wooded areas and tend to remain hidden, unless foraging.  They are not as commonly seen as other frogs (especially Ranids, such as Leopard Frogs) and are obviously very easy to confuse with the Eastern Gray Treefrog.  They eat primarily invertebrates, especially insects. 


Remarks:  The Cope's Gray Treefrog is not normally found in the La Crosse area.  They are so similar to the Eastern Gray Treefrog that the only way to tell them apart is by their call or through DNA analysis.  Eastern Gray Treefrogs, genetically, are tetraploids, and they have double the chromosomes (48) of Cope's Gray Treefrogs (24), which are diploid.  In addition, whereas the Eastern Gray Treefrog's call is a trill that seems to "vibrate" slower than the Cope's, the Cope's mating call also seems more harsh and less melodic.



        I have neither heard nor seen this frog in the La Crosse area.  Casper (1996) does not show its as extending into La Crosse County.  However, Christoffel et al. (2001) do show it's range as including La Crosse County.  Therefore, it is possible that it exists here as well.  I have heard them extensively near my parent's house in Stoughton, WI.  It is interesting to note that I have not heard a single Eastern Gray Treefrog there.  Only Cope's Gray Treefrogs.



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