Frogs

Natural History

Maymont’s Nature Center is home to several species of frogs. The Green Tree Frog (Hyla cinerea) and Gray Tree Frog (Hyla versicolor) are two of the species on exhibit belonging to the genus Hyla, which means “tree”. Their specially adapted sticky toe pads allow them to climb trees easily. Both types of tree frogs can be found in central and southwestern Virginia and throughout the eastern United States.  The Green tree frog can even be found as far west as Texas.

Green and Gray tree frogs can be found in wooded areas in close proximity to bodies of water, such as creeks, vernal pools, and rivers. Green and Gray tree frogs are able to survive in temperatures below freezing. Both frogs have the ability to become lighter or darker in order to mimic their surroundings. They eat a variety of insects such as moths, crickets, and grasshoppers.

Also located in the Nature Center is the American bullfrog (Lithobates catesbeianus). The American Bullfrog is part of the ranidae family and is the largest frog found in North America, growing up to 8 inches and weighing over 3 pounds. Most active at night, the bullfrog can be heard calling “jug o’ rum” from a quarter of a mile away! The adult frogs use their skin as well as their lungs for respiration. Bullfrogs are found throughout eastern and central United States, including most of Virginia.

These large frogs need slow-moving freshwater habitats such as ponds, lakes, swamps or streams. They can usually be found at the edge of the water where they can access vegetation on land or in the water for cover. Their green to brown coloration allows for great camouflage in their surroundings. This nocturnal hunter typically eats insects, crayfish, and small fish and frogs. They have been known to catch and eat small birds and snakes! Not many animals eat bullfrogs as their skin secretions are foul-tasting to other animals.

Fun Facts

  • Gray tree frogs do not hybridize due to the different pulse rate and pitch of male mating calls.
  • Green tree frogs use the parietal organ between their eyes to navigate and thermoregulate their bodies.
  • Bullfrog tadpoles may take one to three years undergo metamorphosis, whereas most other frogs take less than a year.
  • A bullfrog tadpole can be quite large, typically reaching 4-6 inches in length.
  • In the wild, bullfrogs can live 8-10 years!

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