Spring Peeper
Pseudacris crucifer

  • Spring Peeper
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Common Name: Spring Peeper  
Scientific Name: Pseudacris crucifer
Etymology:
Genus: Pseudacris is derived from the Greek words pseudes meaning "false" and akris meaning "locust"
 Species: crucifer is derived from the Latin word crucis which means "cross-bearing". This refers to the cross-like pattern found on the frog's dorsum.
Subspecies:
Average Length: 0.8 - 1.3 in. (1.9 - 3.2 cm)
Virginia Record Length: 
Record length: 1.5 in. (3.7 cm)

 

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION: This species ranges in length from 19-35 mm (0.75-1.5 in) *1014*. Dorsal coloration can be yellow, tan, brown, gray, or olive with a distinctive dark X-shaped mark *11407* *1014*. The northern subspecies found here in Virginia has a plain or virtually plain belly *11407*. There is typically a dark bar-like marking between the eyes. Males have dark throats and are usually smaller and darker than the females *1014*.

REPRODUCTION: This species breeds from February through May in woodland ponds, swamps, and ditches *1014*. Choral groups are found where trees or shrubs are standing in water or nearby *11407*. Mating call is a high piping whistle repeated about once every second *1014* *11407*. A large chorus resembles the sound of sleigh bells. Sometimes an individual exhibits a trilling peep in the background of a large chorus *11407*. Females lay an average of 900 eggs per clutch. Eggs are laid singly and attached to submerged vegetation or other objects *1014* *11406* *11284*. Eggs hatch in a average of 6 days *11406*. Metamorphosis occurs in an average of 45 days though a range of 3 to 4 months is also reported *1014* *11406* *11284*. Individuals typically reach sexual maturity at 1 year *11406*.

BEHAVIOR: This species inhabits woodlands under forest litter or within brushy undergrowth *1014*. They are particularly abundant in brushy secondary growth or cutover woodlots if they are close to small temporary or semi-permanent ponds or swammps *11284* *11407*. Specimens are rarely seen outside of the breeding season though occassionally an individual can be found travelling through the woods by day in wet weather *11407*. Their diet consists primarily of small arthropods. This species may fall prey to large spiders *1014*. This species has been shown to tolerate temperatures of -6 degrees Celcius for 5 days. At the end of that period, approximately 35% of body fluids were frozen. This and other species that tolerate extreme cold temperatures were shown to have high levels of glycerol in body tissues during the winter. Glycerol is absent from body tissues in the summer *11406*. This species forms choral groups in areas with or near trees or shrubs standing in water *11407*. Male call is a high piping whistle repeated about every second *11407* *1014*. This species primarily feeds on beetles and other small insects *11284*.

ORIGIN: Native

LIMITING FACTORS: Breeding occurs in woodland ponds, swamps and ditches *1014*. Eggs are attached to submerged vegetation or other objects *1014* *11406*. This species requires marshy ponds, ditches, and swamps with proximal shrubs *11284*.

POPULATION PARAMETERS: Percent survival of young females is 32.2 *11406*.

AQUATIC/TERRESTRIAL ASSOCIATIONS: This species is found in woodlands under forest litter or in brushy undergrowth *1014*. They are especially abundant in shruby secondary growth or cutover woodlots in close proximity to small temporary or semi-permanent ponds or swamps *11407* *11284*. Eggs are laid on submerged vegetation or other objects *11406* *1014*.

References for Life History

  • 1014 - Martof, B.S., Palmer, W.M., Bailey, J.R., Harrison, III J.R., 1980, Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia, 264 pgs., UNC Press, Chapel Hill, NC

  • 11284 - Wilson, L.A., 1995, Land manager's guide to the amphibians and reptiles of the South, 360 pp. pgs., The Nature Conservancy, Southeastern Region, Chapel Hill, NC

  • 11406 - Duellman, William E. and, Trueb, Linda, 1986, Biology of Amphibians, 671 pgs., The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore

  • 11407 - Conant, Roger and, Collins, John T., 1998, Peterson Field Guide: Reptiles and Amphibians, Eastern/Central North America, 616 pgs., Houghton Mifflin Company;, Boston
  • Photos:

    *Click on a thumbnail for a larger version.

    Spring Peeper video clip
    Prince William Co. Spring peepers in Amplexus Rappahannock National Wildlife Refuge Richmond Co. Loudoun Co. Fairfax Co.

    Spring Peeper (top)
    vs.
    Upland chorus
    Clarke Co.

     
    Peepers in Amplexus Calling Male Loudoun Co. Loudoun Co. Unusually colored specimen from Carroll County Unusually colored specimen from Carroll County  

     

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