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6 Tree Frogs in New Jersey (With Pictures)

There are over species 800 worldwide. While some U.S. states have as many as 16 different species, there are only 6 types of tree frogs in New Jersey that I could find. In this article we’ll be looking closer at those 6 species and learning a little about them.

Technically, living in trees isn’t what defines a tree frog. Real tree frogs have a specialized bone in their toes that is shaped like a claw and specialized toe pads that allow them to climb trees. Species that live at ground level have lost these toe pads.

Let’s have a look at New Jersey’s tree frogs!

6 types of tree frogs in New Jersey

The 6 tree frogs of New Jersey are the northern cricket frog, spring peeper, gray tree frog, Cope’s gray tree frog, upland chorus frog, and the New Jersey chorus frog.

1. Northern cricket frog

Northern cricket frog on autumn leaves
Northern cricket frog on autumn leaves | image by ALAN SCHMIERER via Flickr

Scientific Name: Acris crepitans

The Northern cricket frog is a small species. It’s only five-eighths to 1 3/8 inches long. Its range extends from New Jersey and Long Island to the Florida panhandle, and west to the outskirts of Texas.

Unlike most tree frogs, the cricket frog has warty, rough skin similar to a toad. Its body is gray with a black stripe on each side. It also has a dark triangular shape on its head.

Cricket frogs can be difficult to spot because their coloring allows them to camouflage themselves in the grass near the shoreline. It prefers shallow ponds and small streams when it takes to the water. It spends most of its time on the shoreline, preferring vegetated areas that offer lots of cover.

The cricket frog’s long legs allow it to make big leaps. It uses this ability to catch insects, often in mid-air.

The male frog calls using a throat pouch. The sound is similar to a cricket, which is likely where the frog gets its name. The call starts slowly and speeds up, lasting for 20-30 individual beats.

2. Spring peeper

Spring peeper on a leaf
Spring peeper on a leaf

Scientific Name: Pseudacris crucifer

The Spring peeper is thought to be the most common tree frog in New Jersey, even though it is rarely spotted. It’s slightly smaller than the cricket frog, with adults reaching three-fourths to 1 1/4 inches long.

Spring peepers are found throughout New Jersey and their range extends from Canada through the eastern third of the United States. It’s found near permanent bodies of water. It can live near temporary bodies of water, but it will not be found near polluted waters. It prefers densely wooded areas, where it makes its home in the trees.

The top of its body can be tan, light brown, or gray. The underside will be lighter than the body. It has a dark V shape on its back, and bands of color on its legs.

Spring peepers hibernate during the winter months, often beneath logs or loose bark. It reappears in March and signals the beginning of spring.

When the peeper begins to call, it does so both day and night. The call signals the beginning of spring and often comes with spring rains. As the season goes on, the peepers only call at night.

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Instead of calling individually, peepers create a chorus. The call is described as a high whistle.

The peeper isn’t a picky eater. It eats small invertebrates, including flies, grubs, and ants.

3. Eastern gray tree frog

Common gray treefrog
Common gray tree frog | Image credit: Amphibianboss.com

Scientific Name: Hyla versicolor

The Eastern gray tree frog is larger, measuring 1 1/4 to two inches. As the name suggests, it is often gray in color. It can also be green or brown. it has a dark blotch on its back, which makes it easily recognizable. Its underside is bright yellow or orange. The skin will be rough and warty.

Gray tree frogs are found throughout all of New Jersey. When it comes to the Allegheny Mountains, sightings are questionable. It extends through most of the Eastern U.S., excluding Maine and southern Florida.

Gray tree frogs prefer small trees or shrubs near or growing from permeant bodies of water. It stays in the trees the majority of the time. At night, it climbs down to breed and call.

Calling begins with the frogs high in the trees. Eventually, it moves down to ground level near the breeding site. They call most often in spring and early summer at twilight.

4. Cope’s gray tree frog

cope’s gray tree frog perching
Cope’s gray tree frog | image by USFWS Mountain-Prairie via Flickr

Scientific name: Dryophytes chrysoscelis

Frequently referred to as the Southern gray tree frog, Cope’s gray tree frogs only occur in extreme southern New Jersey and are endangered in the state. What differentiates the Cope’s gray tree frog from the gray tree frog is its higher-pitched and faster-paced call and this is the only difference between the two species.

In terms of habitat, the Cope’s gray tree frog lives in woodland areas and they move to ponds for breeding. These frogs are primarily solitary frogs, but they do form choruses that allow them to call when they’re together. You can sometimes even hear these frogs responding to loud noises during the day.

5. Upland chorus frog

Upland chorus frog
Upland chorus frog | image by Northeast Coastal & Barrier Network via Flickr | CC BY-SA 2.0

Scientific Name: Pseudacris feriarum

Upland chorus frogs are relatively small, at 3/4 – 1 1/2 inches. They’re found in much of New Jersey but are more common in southern states.

Coloring and markings vary. They are typically gray, green, or light brown. They have a dark stripe down both sides of the body. The legs have dark spots or bars.

They prefer woodlands, marshes, and meadows. They breed near water, and can often be found in the water during the breeding season.

6. New Jersey chorus frog

New Jersey chorus frog
New Jersey chorus frog resting | image by milkweedhunter via iNaturalist | CC BY 4.0

Scientific Name: Pseudacris kalmi

The New Jersey chorus frog is similar to the western and upland chorus frogs. Adults grow to 3/4 – 1/12 inches long. It prefers a similar habitat, living in dense vegetation in woods, marshes, and meadows.

New Jersey chorus frogs are found throughout New Jersey, but their population is declining.

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It is gray or tan. It has a dark stripe on each side that runs through the eyes and down to the groin.