How to know male or female Tree Frog?

male and female tree frogs mating

How to know male or female Tree Frog? Many beginner frog owners often ask this question. Sadly there is no single external trait that you can use to know male or female across over 800 species of tree frogs worldwide.

Tree frog gender identification can only be accurately carried out by combining two or more methods which we will discuss in this article.

Most times, you can only tell between adult male or female tree frogs during breeding season because some of the traits you will use to differentiate between male or female adult tree frogs only show up during the breeding season.

As frog owners, it is important to understand the anatomical and behavioral distinctions between males and females, as well as the numerous methods for establishing gender, to properly care for and breed a tree frog.

In this post, I will show you the different methods of identifying a tree frog’s gender.

You can also read about Beginners Guide to Keeping Tree Frogs as Pets Here

Physical Characteristics of Male and Female Tree Frogs

Body Size

Male frogs are mostly smaller than female frogs in most species of frogs, the sizes of adult tree frogs are mostly between 1 to 6 inches or 3cm to 14 cm, and this size depends on the tree frog’s species.

Females are about half an inch longer and slightly heavier than males of the same species, while there could be an overlap in body size in some other species. The reason for this difference in size between the adult male and female tree frog has to do with sexual dimorphism, the way frogs mate.

Males have to climb onto females’ backs to mate. However, the body size is not the best way to identify a male frog because some species, like the Southeast Asian Sylvirana nigrovittata has its male bigger than its females.

Another example where the male is larger than the female is the Pyxicephalus adspersus, is an African bullfrog. Male African bullfrogs can grow to be 10 inches (25 cm) long and weigh up to 2.2 pounds (1 kg), although females are normally 7 inches (18 cm) long and weigh less than a pound (0.5 kg).

Difference in body size of male and female frog
Female tree frog bigger than male in body size. Image Credit: Krisda, shutterstock

Presence of a Vocal Sac

Male frogs have a vocal sac, which is an inflated throat pouch that aids in the production of loud and distinguishing mating cries.

The vocal sac functions as a resonating chamber, amplifying the sound of the frog’s vocal cords.

Male frogs utilize their vocal sac to attract females and establish their territory during the mating season.

They can announce their presence to surrounding females and dissuade other males from approaching their area by making a loud call.

The size and shape of a frog’s vocal sac varies by species, with some frogs having huge, inflating sacs and others having small, scarcely detectable ones.

The vocal sac is normally found solely in male frogs, though some female frogs may also have a rudimentary vocal sac.

Nuptial Pads on the Hands of Male Frogs

Nuptial pads in tree frogs are distinctive thickened areas of skin on the skin of some male frogs, including tree frog species often seen on their hands or thumbs.

During the breeding season, male tree frogs utilize these pads to help them grab females during amplexus, which is the mating position in which the male grasps the female’s back.

tree frogs exhibiting Amplexus during mating
Tree frogs exhibiting Amplexus during mating. Image Credit: Anant, Shutterstock

The nuptial pads are composed of a dense layer of the keratinized epidermis, giving them a rough and textured surface that aids the male in maintaining a strong grip on the female.

The size and shape of the nuptial pads vary depending on the species, with some males having larger and more conspicuous pads than others.

The presence of nuptial pads on male tree frog species, such as Cuban Tree frogs, is an adaptation that evolved to assist them in competing for females during the breeding season, so whenever you see this pad in a frog’s hand, you are probably looking at a male frog.

However, not all male tree frogs have Nuptial pads, North American tree frogs in the family Hylidae, such as the Spring Peeper do not have nuptial pads, so you cannot use the Nuptial pads as the only way to identify male tree frogs.

Skin Coloration and Patterns

Several tree frog species vary in coloration and patterning between males and females. These distinctions can vary by species and can be more or less pronounced.

The red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas) is a common example of a species having variances in skin pigmentation and patterning between males and females.

Males in this species have more colorful colors, bright green bodies, blue and yellow stripes on their flanks, and red eyes. Conversely, females have duller and more muted coloring, with an olive green body and fewer conspicuous stripes.

Another example is the Australian green tree frog (Litoria caerulea), where males have more golden thighs and females have more greenish thighs. This species’ males are likewise smaller and thinner than females.

The differences in coloring and patterning between males and females in some species may be very subtle and difficult to identify.

Minor changes in skin colors and patterns, on the other hand, can be useful for recognizing and analyzing different individuals and populations of tree frogs.

While changes in skin colors and patterns can be used to identify the gender of a tree frog, it’s not necessarily a reliable method because there can be a lot of diversity within a single species. Other physical traits or behavioral distinctions are frequently utilized with skin coloration to distinguish a tree frog’s gender.

Size of the Ears of Tree Frogs (Tympanum)

Frogs’ ears, known as tympanum, are flat discs of skin on the sides of their heads behind their eyes. The size of these tympanums can be used to determine the gender of a few frog species.

Males of the Green Frog, River Frog, Pig Frog, and many other frog species have larger ears than females.

Male frogs’ ears are often larger than their eyes. Female frogs, on the other hand, have ears around the same size as their eyes.

Behavioral Differences between Male and Female Tree Frogs

Night croaking:

Vocalizations of tree frogs are an important technique for identifying the gender of tree frogs. Croaking is a common form of vocalizations traits that you can use to differentiate between male and female tree frogs.

These calling sounds are exhibited in almost all species of male tree frogs, while the female either do not croak at all or their croaking is not as loud and not frequently done like the males.

The croaking sounds from the male attract female tree frogs, and the females use these sounds to determine the male to approach for mating.

Female frogs do not continuously croak or, if at all they croak or call, it is either to mark territory or may be as a result of danger they face from predators, like when a predator attacks them, they may call out or scream.

Male tree frog croaking
Male tree frog Calling. Image Credit: W. de Vries, shutterstock

Territorial and Nesting Behaviors

The Territorial behavior of tree frogs can also identify the gender of your tree frog.

During the breeding season, males of many frog species will establish territories and defend them from rival males. This may entail calling to entice females and scare off competing males.

The gender of your tree frog can be determined by observing its behavior during the breeding season.

It’s probably a male if your frog is acting aggressively or calling in a territorial manner.

Females, on the other hand, might behave less aggressively and might be more intent on locating appropriate nesting places.

Additionally, female tree frogs have been known to lay eggs or engage in nesting behaviors, including burrowing in plants or substrates.

The nesting behavior of tree frogs may indicate that your frog is a female if you observe them. Not all female frogs will display nesting behavior, and males may occasionally do the same.

Other Methods for Determining the Gender of Tree Frogs

The gender of tree frogs can be identified using various techniques, such as visual inspection, sound analysis, and DNA testing.

Visual inspection is the easiest and most popular way, but it requires skill and an understanding of the species. Based on physical traits like size, coloration, or markings, skilled breeders or doctors may be able to know male or female Tree Frog.

Using specialist software, tree frog vocalizations are recorded and subjected to acoustic analysis. This technique can be especially helpful for species that produce complicated or distinctive calls. But it calls for particular tools and knowledge.

The most precise way to identify a tree frog’s gender is DNA testing, but it is also the most costly and time-consuming. To determine whether sex chromosomes are present, a small tissue sample from the animal is taken and examined in a lab.

Seeking Professional Assistance in Identifying Gender of Tree Frogs

Seeking a dependable solution for determining the gender of your tree frog is to ask a professional. The gender of your frog can be correctly identified by herpetologists or other qualified amphibian specialists using a combination of physical inspection and behavioral observation.

A herpetologist might be able to distinguish between male and female tree frogs based on physical characteristics like the presence of nuptial pads or variations in size and coloring.

They might also be able to hear your frog’s vocalizations and contrast them with calls from recognized males or females.

Sometimes a herpetologist must examine your frog’s anatomy more closely to identify its gender.

The frog may need to be gently restrained while being examined for its vent region or other physical characteristics to be able to know male or female Tree Frog.

Always remember that handling frogs should only be done carefully and by those with experience because it can be stressful for the amphibian and even harmful if done incorrectly.


Now that you have studied the various methods of how to know if your tree frog is male or female, you can apply the number of approaches discussed, including physical examination, behavior observation, and professional assistance, for identifying the gender of your tree frog.

You can start to determine the gender of your frog by looking at features, including nuptial pads, vocalizations, skin colors and patterns, and breeding behavior.

You should know that depending on the species of tree frog you are working with, certain methods may be more accurate than others and that it can take some time and persistence to determine your frog’s gender correctly.

In the end, a mix of techniques could be required to know male or female Tree Frog!

Related Post: Beginners Guide to Keeping Tree Frogs as Pets