Pine Woods Treefrog

Pine Woods Treefrog (Photo: Jeff Hall)

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Scientific Names: Hyla femoralis

Classification: Nongame species 

Range: Coastal Plain (blue)



Pine woods treefrog (Photo by Jeff Hall)

Pine woods treefrog (Photo by Jeff Beane)


Pine woods treefrogs call from March to October. Singing males call from the edge of shallow water or from emergent vegetation with a very distinctive, machine-like "kek-kek-kek" call, which is sometimes described as sounding like Morse code.

Additional Information

The pine woods treefrog is usually reddish brown, brownish or grayish (occasionally greenish) with dark blotches on its back and small yellow, orange or white spots on the rear of each thigh. They inhabit pine forests and flatwoods, as well as cypress swamps in the Coastal Plain. They are noted for climbing to the tops of the tallest trees. They call from March to October and  breed in grassy pools, roadside ditches, cypress ponds and other temporary aquatic habitats. Egg masses are loose and sticky and are attached to vegetation at or near the water's surface. Tadpoles hatch within three days after eggs are laid and transform in 7 to 11 weeks. 

Like many species of amphibians that use ephemeral breeding sites, pine woods treefrog tadpoles may fail to reach metamorphosis if the wetland dries prematurely. However, large numbers of tadpoles often complete metamorphosis during wet years, which can help make up for losses during dry years. 

The pine woods 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.