Spring Peeper


Photo by: Jerry Mercier

Species: Spring Peeper

Scientific name:Pseudacris crucifer

Status: common

Description: The dorsal (back) colour markings are the most distinctive part of this frog. They have a lighter brown background colour (but can range from red-grey as well), with darker brown markings. The back has an X shaped mark in the darker brown colour. The underbelly is white in colour, and may have dark flecks. This frog is small (1.5”), has small discs on their toes (used for climbing as it is a tree frog), and big copper coloured eyes.

Habitat: This frog is found in a number of different habitat types and will breed anywhere there is water. They prefer temporary woodland pools, ponds and wetlands. After the breeding season, these frogs will spend the remainder of the summer in leaf litter in forested areas. Spring peepers often climb trees, however, they do not climb high and will stay close to the leaf litter.   

Breeding: Breeding season beings after the frogs emerge from hibernation. This frog will overwinter in the leaf litter and are able to withstand freezing temperatures (freeze tolerant). Spring peepers can be found on breeding ponds even before the ice is fully off the pond. These frogs congregate (get together) in large numbers in the spring. Breeding ponds are typically shallow, usually temporary and found in wooded areas. Breeding season can begin as early as March. Males will have a small territory and attract females with their piercing “peep” calls. A single female will lay 800-1000 eggs, either singly or in small groups (this makes them hard to see) attached to vegetation under the water. Spring peeper tadpoles (young) will hatch in 6-12 days and will metamorphose (change) into adult form (the frog) after 2-3 months.

Diet: This frog is a nocturnal carnivore. They eat invertebrates, including beetles, flies, and ants. The tadpoles eat algae and other water organisms.

Threats to species: The numbers of spring peepers will decline drastically with urbanization and small populations can disappear due to urbanization. The natural predators of spring peepers are larval beetles, snakes, skunks and other frogs.

Threat to humans: Frogs are no threat to humans. If you see them, check them out, help them when necessary, but do not pick up multiple frogs without cleaning your hands between handling. Scientists aren’t 100% sure how diseases spread in frogs, and humans may be a vector for spread when they handle frogs.

Fun facts:

When a large number of spring peepers are calling it can be deafening and can carry over ½ km.


Frog watch: http://www.naturewatch.ca/english/frogwatch/species_details.asp?species=20

Spring peeper call examples-Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spring_peeper

Macculloch, R.D. 2002. The ROM field guide to amphibians and reptiles of Ontario.



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