Tree Frog in the Bathroom

Cope's Gray Treefrog and Common Gray Treefrog

Cope’s Gray Treefrog and Common Gray Treefrog © David Liebman

Tree Frog in the Bathroom by Julie Craves

The first amphibian we found at our new property was a gray treefrog. We have a wooded wetland, but we found the frog on the floor of an interior, windowless bathroom on our second walk-through prior to buying the house. Presumably it gained entry through the exhaust fan. I suppose this would have been a turn-off to some prospective buyers, who might wonder what else could make its way into the crapper from outdoors, but it charmed us. My husband scooped up the little hopper and placed it outside where it belonged.

We’ve since seen and heard many of this frog’s kin and neighbors. In the eastern U.S., Hyla versicolor and Hyla chrysoscelis are the two sister species of gray treefrog, Eastern and Cope’s. The former has a slower call than the latter, which is the best way to tell these two apart, unless you have your heart set on counting chromosomes.

Cope's Gray Treefrog and Common Gray Treefrog

Cope’s Gray Treefrog and Common Gray Treefrog © Bill Beatty

My ear has not yet heard enough of both species to be able to distinguish the pace of the bird-like trills. Some studies have suggested that Cope’s Gray Treefrogs can tolerate (or prefer) lower humidity, more often call from trees, and consequently eat more arboreal insects, while Eastern Gray Treefrogs like it more humid, tend to call closer to the ground, and eat more terrestrial insects. Even at the end of a dry, hot summer, treefrogs were pretty ubiquitous high and low around the property. Perhaps we have both species, although confirmation will prove difficult.

But no matter. These are my favorite frogs, so beautiful in mottled, slightly warty patterns of green, gray, and brown. They are especially hard to spot when perched on tree bark, but stick out like a sore thumb when adhered by sticky toe pads to porch lights, window screens, sliding glass doors…or bathroom floors.

Julie Craves

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