Photo by Jodie Owen
Scientific Name: Hyla squirella
Classification: Nongame species
Abundance: Found primarily in Coastal Plain (blue)
Squirrel treefrog (Photo by Ken Taylor)
Squirrel treefrog (Photo by Jeff Hall)
The call of a squirrel treefrog is a nasal "waaaak, waaaak," repeated about 15 times in 10 seconds. They also have a "rain call," which is a scolding, squirrel-like rasp usually performed away from water before and during rain storms. Because of this call, they are sometimes referred to as "rain frogs."
The squirrel treefrog is a small, smooth-skinned frog that can change color rapidly, from green to yellowish brown to brown. It generally has a poorly developed yellowish strip on each side and sometimes spotting on the back. They are found in a wide variety of habitats, ranging from pine savannas to urban backyards. They are found primarily in the Coastal Plain, although they may be introduced into other parts of the state by hitchhiking on garden materials. Squirrel treefrogs are nocturnal and spend the daylight hours hiding under leaves, bark or logs. Like other treefrogs, squirrel treefrogs are often seen at night around lighted windows and street lights, where they feed on insects.
Breeding occurs from April to August. They deposit eggs singly at the bottom of shallow, temporary pools and tadpoles require at least 7 weeks to complete metamorphosis.
The squirrel 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.
Wildlife Diversity Program Quarterly Reports