Temporal range: 70.6–0 Ma Cretaceous – recent
European tree frog Hyla arborea
Scientific classification e
Rafinesque, 1815

See text.

Hylidae distrib.PNG
Distribution of Hylidae (in black)

Hylidae is a wide-ranging family of frogs commonly referred to as "tree frogs and their allies". However, the hylids include a diversity of frog species, many of which do not live in trees, but are terrestrial or semiaquatic.

Taxonomy and systematics

The earliest known fossils that can be assigned to this family are from the Cretaceous of India and the state of Wyoming in the United States.[1]

The common name of "tree frog" is a popular name for several species of the family Hylidae. However, the name "treefrog" is not unique to this family, also being used for many species in the family Rhacophoridae.

The following genera are recognised in the family Hylidae:[2]

  • Subfamily Acrisinae
    • Acris – cricket frogs
    • Pseudacris – chorus frogs
  • Subfamily Cophomantinae
    • Aplastodiscus – canebrake treefrogs
    • Boana – gladiator treefrogs
    • Bokermannohyla
    • Hyloscirtus
    • Myersiohyla
    • Nesorohyla
    • "Hyla" nicefori
  • Subfamily Dendropsophinae
    • Dendropsophus
    • Xenohyla
  • Subfamily Hylinae
    • Atlantihyla
    • Bromeliohyla
    • Charadrahyla
    • Dryophytes - Ameroasian treefrogs
    • Duellmanohyla – brook frogs
    • Ecnomiohyla
    • Exerodonta
    • Hyla – common tree frogs
    • Isthmohyla
    • Megastomatohyla
    • Plectrohyla – spike-thumb frogs
    • Ptychohyla – stream frogs
    • Quilticohyla
    • Rheohyla - small-eared treefrog
    • Sarcohyla
    • Smilisca – burrowing frogs
    • Tlalocohyla
    • Triprion – shovel-headed tree frogs
  • Subfamily Lophyohylinae
    • Aparasphenodon – casque-headed frogs
    • Argenteohyla – Argentinian frogs
    • Corythomantis – casque-headed tree frog
    • Dryaderces
    • Itapotihyla
    • Nyctimantis – brown-eyed tree frogs
    • Osteocephalus – slender-legged tree frogs
    • Osteopilus
    • Phyllodytes – heart-tongued frogs
    • Phytotriades - Trinidad golden treefrogs
    • Tepuihyla – Amazon tree frogs
    • Trachycephalus – casque-headed tree frog
  • Subfamily Phyllomedusidae (leaf frogs)
    • Agalychnis
    • Callimedusa
    • Cruziohyla
    • Hylomantis – rough leaf frogs
    • Phasmahyla – shining leaf frogs
    • Phrynomedusa – colored leaf frogs
    • Phyllomedusa
    • Pithecopus
  • Subfamily Pseudinae (harlequin frogs)
    • Lysapsus - harlequin frogs
    • Pseudis – swimming frogs
    • Scarthyla – Madre de Dios tree frogs
  • Subfamily Scinaxinae
    • Julianus
    • Ololygon
    • Scinax – snouted tree frogs
    • Sphaenorhynchus – lime tree frogs
  • Incertae sedis
    • "Hyla" imitator - mimic tree frog


Most hylids show adaptations suitable for an arboreal lifestyle, including forward-facing eyes providing binocular vision, and adhesive pads on the fingers and toes. In the nonarboreal species, these features may be greatly reduced, or absent.

Distribution and habitat

The European tree frog (Hyla arborea) is common in the middle and south of Europe, and its range extends into Asia and North Africa.

North America has many species of the family Hylidae, including the gray tree frog (Hyla versicolor) and the American green tree frog (H. cinerea). The spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) is also widespread in the eastern United States and is commonly heard on spring and summer evenings.

Behaviour and ecology

Species of the genus Cyclorana are burrowing frogs that spend much of their lives underground.[3]


Hylids lay their eggs in a range of different locations, depending on species. Many use ponds, or puddles that collect in the holes of their trees, while others use bromeliads or other water-holding plants. Other species lay their eggs on the leaves of vegetation hanging over water, allowing the tadpoles to drop into the pond when they hatch.[3]

A few species use fast-flowing streams, attaching the eggs firmly to the substrate. The tadpoles of these species have suckers enabling them to hold on to rocks after they hatch. Another unusual adaptation is found in some South American hylids, which brood the eggs on the back of the female. The tadpoles of most hylid species have laterally placed eyes and broad tails with narrow, filamentous tips.[3]


Hylids mostly feed on insects and other invertebrates, but some larger species can feed on small vertebrates.



  1. ^ "Fossilworks: Hylidae". fossilworks.org. Retrieved 2021-03-02.
  2. ^ "Hylidae Rafinesque, 1815 | Amphibian Species of the World". research.amnh.org. Retrieved 2019-11-24.
  3. ^ a b c Zweifel, Robert G. (1998). Cogger, H.G.; Zweifel, R.G. (eds.). Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. San Diego: Academic Press. pp. 93–94. ISBN 0-12-178560-2.
  • This article incorporates text from the Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921).

Further reading

  • "Amero-Australian Treefrogs (Hylidae)". William E. Duellman. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. Ed. Michael Hutchins, Arthur V. Evans, Jerome A. Jackson, Devra G. Kleiman, James B. Murphy, Dennis A. Thoney, et al. Vol. 6: Amphibians. 2nd ed. Detroit: Gale, 2004. p225-243.

External links

Data related to Hylidae at Wikispecies

Media files used on this page

Variegated golden frog (Mantella baroni) Ranomafana.jpg
Author/Creator: Charles J. Sharp , Licence: CC BY-SA 4.0
Variegated golden frog (Mantella baroni), Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar
Hylidae 001.jpg
Author/Creator: Kropsoq, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Hyla japonica (Japanese tree frog)
Hylidae distrib.PNG
Author/Creator: unknown, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Hyla gray treefrog.jpg
Author/Creator: Image taken by Pollinator, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0
Gray treefrog, probably Hyla versicolor.
Masked tree frog swimming.JPG
Author/Creator: Charles J. Sharp , Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
Masked tree frog (Smilisca phaeota) at night in the OSA Peninsula, Costa Rica
Hyla arborea - rzekotka drzewna2.jpg
(c) RobertC1301 at pl.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
Hyla arborea. Digital photo taken in the beginning of June 2006 in Mazovia (Poland).
Author/Creator: unknown, Licence: CC-BY-SA-3.0