Barking Treefrog

Photo by Jeff Hall

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Scientific Name: Hyla gratiosa

Classification: Nongame species

Abundance: Found primarily in Coastal Plain & eastern Piedmont (blue)

Barking treefrog (Photo by Jeff Hall)


The barking treefrog's breeding call is a single "toonk," given every few seconds. From a distance, a breeding chorus may sound like a pack of barking dogs. Unlike other treefrogs that call from vegetation or the shoreline around a wetland, barking treefrogs call while floating on the water's surface.

Additional Information

The barking treefrog is the largest treefrog species in North Carolina. It has large toe pads and is generally gren with reddish-brown or purple spots. Like most treefrogs, the barking treefrog can change color rapidly, from green to gray or brown. It also has distinctly granular skin, which differentiates it from smooth-skinned species, such as the green treefrog.

Barking treefrogs are found in the Coastal Plain and eastern Piedmont, primarily in pine forests and dry flatwoods. Although barking treefrogs can found high in the trees, they are also adept burrowers, sometimes taking refuge under sand or soil.

Barking treefrogs call from April to September. They breed in permanent and semi-permanent wetlands. Eggs are laid singly at the bottom of the pond. The tadpole period lasts about six to 10 weeks.


The barking treefrog is classified as a nongame species with no open season. It is unlawful for any person to take, or have in possession, any nongame mammal or bird unless that person has a collection license or is collecting fewer than 5 reptiles or fewer than 25 amphibians that are not endangered, threatened, or special concerned species.

There are no reported problems with this species. 

Frogs and toads can be monitored fairly easily in a variety of ways. One way is through frog call monitoring. The North Carolina Calling Amphibian Survey Program attempts to do just that by corralling data collected by volunteers across the state that monitors specific frog call routes. Each species of frog and toad has a unique call that is distinguishable from others.  Some are more difficult for humans to separate than others, but the frogs know who’s who!  Learn your frog calls, and you too can distinguish who’s calling in the ponds.  Another way to monitor frogs and toads is by looking for egg masses deposited in wetlands and/or by looking for tadpoles in those same wetlands. Different frogs breed at different times of the year, so when to look for eggs is dependent on the species of interest. Eggs typically hatch within a couple weeks of being deposited, so there is a fairly short window for detection. Frog eggs can sometimes be identified to family, but are somewhat tricky to identify to species level.  Tadpole identification can be similarly tricky, so learning and listening to frog calls is definitely the easiest method for determining what frogs and toads are using a wetland. Tadpoles are a little easier to monitor, as most species have tadpoles present in wetlands for longer periods of time. This is, again, variable by species.  Most species have tadpole stages that last at least several months, but the range in timing for different species is everything from a couple of weeks to several years.  The smaller frog and toad species tend to have shorter tadpole cycles, while the larger frogs and toads tend to have longer times to metamorphosis.