The Spring Peeper

The Spring Peeper
The Spring Peeper is one of the chorus frog species. The scientific name of its species is Pseudacris Crucifer. There are two subspecies of Spring Peepers: the Southern Spring Peeper and the Northern Spring Peeper. The Southern Spring Peeper's natural habitat is located in Southern Georgia and Northern Florida. The Northern Spring Peeper is more widespread as its habitat covers the states located east of the Mississippi, in the United States and the Eastern and central Canadian provinces.

The Spring Peeper even inherited some local nicknames due to their mating calls, heard in the spring as soon as the ice starts melting. In New Brunswick, Canada, they are often called "tinkletoes" or “peepers” while the ones living on Martha's Vineyard are called "pinkletinks".

What is the difference between Southern Spring Peepers and Northern Spring Peepers? Well, there are not many differences between them beside the markings on the Southern Spring Peeper's belly.

This amphibian owes its name to the high pitch sounds that males make during mating calls to attract females. The male has a vocal sac near its throat that inflates like a balloon, creating high-pitch peeping sounds. When there is an army of Spring Peepers, the sound is similar to sleigh bells ringing while the sound of one frog will imitate the peeping sound of a young chicken. Only the male can make these sounds.

The main colors of this frog species are tan, olive green, gray or brown. The X shaped marking on its back is characteristic of the Spring Peeper. It is difficult to locate them, even by following the sounds they make as they are so small and camouflage themselves so well on the forest floor. Their size varies between 25 mm (1 in) and 38 mm (1.5 in). Their weigh ranges between 3.1 g (0.11 oz) and 5.1 g (0.18 oz).

The breeding season for Southern Spring Peepers goes from October to March depending on the weather while the Northern Spring Peepers will breed from March to June. The female will lay a clutch of eggs containing between 900 and 1000 eggs. Following the hatching of the eggs, the tadpoles will develop into frogs and leave the water for the forest eight weeks later.

As an adult frog, this carnivore mainly feeds on beetles, ants, flies and spiders. They mainly hunt at night, especially the individuals living in the edges of a forest as the ones living in the deeper parts of it will hunt day or night.

This amphibian has large toe pads, allowing it to climb trees, although it does not climb high as it prefers to hunt in low vegetation, hiding from the sight of its natural predators.

In winter, the Spring Peeper hibernates under logs or loose bark. Most of its body can even freeze without killing the frog.

Although the Spring Peeper is not listed as vulnerable or endangered in most areas, the loss of its wetlands due to human encroachment has been responsible for the strong decline of this species in the states of Iowa and Kansas where it is not considered "threatened".

Did you know that you can hear the mating call of this frog species at distances ranging from 1 mile to 2 and a half miles, depending on the amount of individuals calling at the same time?

Let's keep these amphibians around for years to come by protecting their natural habitat! After all, Northerners welcome their sounds as they recognize them as the sounds of spring.

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