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Spring Peeper

Pseudacris crucifer (Hyla crucifer)

Photo: A spring peeper frog

Photo: A spring peeper frog (View larger version)

Photograph by George Grall

Published

Spring peepers are to the amphibian world what American robins are to the bird world. As their name implies, they begin emitting their familiar sleigh-bell-like chorus right around the beginning of spring.

Found in wooded areas and grassy lowlands near ponds and swamps in the central and eastern parts of Canada and the United States, these tiny, well-camouflaged amphibians are rarely seen. But the mid-March crescendo of nighttime whistles from amorous males is for many a sign that winter is over.

Spring peepers are tan or brown in color with dark lines that form a telltale X on their backs. They grow to about 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) in length, and have large toe pads for climbing, although they are more at home amid the loose debris of the forest floor.

They are nocturnal creatures, hiding from their many predators during the day and emerging at night to feed on such delicacies as beetles, ants, flies, and spiders.

They mate and lay their eggs in water and spend the rest of the year in the forest. In the winter, they hibernate under logs or behind loose bark on trees, waiting for the spring thaw and their chance to sing.

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