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Meet Spring Peeper

Photo by Aurora K on Unsplash

Spring peepers are small chorus frogs that live in the eastern United States and Canada. They are pear shaped about the size of a large grape and have tan or brown skin with a dark cross on the back.

You are much more likely to hear than to see them. Spring peepers have vocal sacs in their throats that expand and deflate like balloons to create a short and distinct peeping song like the trill of a young chicken. Only males can make this song, and they use it at

dusk and throughout the evening to attract females during the spring breeding season. The song of the male spring peeper can be heard from two miles away, and a chorus of

them singing together sounds like sleigh bells.

Spring Peepers are amphibious, living part of their lives in water and part on land. They

breed between the months of March and June in fishless temporary wetlands, preferring

spots where the water is still (with no current) and where plants are growing. Females

typically lay about 1000 eggs and attach them to underwater plants or bottom debris.

After three days to two weeks, depending on water temperature, the eggs hatch into

tadpoles. About three months later, the tadpoles metamorphize into frogs and leave the

water. On land, they mature into adults within a year and go on to live for about two

more years.

After the spring breeding season, adult peepers inhabit brushy undergrowth in forests

and low grasslands. With their large toe pads, they are good climbers, but more often

are found on the forest floor near wetlands and along the marshy edges of slow streams

and rivers.

Spring Peepers endure subfreezing temperatures in the winter. As colder weather

causes their body temperature to fall, they make a type of antifreeze that keeps them

from freezing completely.

Adult spring peepers eat small flies, mosquitoes, ants, beetles, moths, caterpillars,

grasshoppers, spiders, slugs, and snails. Tadpoles eat tiny things floating around in the

water, such as microscopic algae and pollen.

Spring peeper eggs and tadpoles are eaten by mammals, reptiles, other amphibians,

leeches, water spiders, insect larvae, water beetles, and dragonflies. Adults are eaten

by foxes, snakes, rats, badgers, weasels, owls, herons, gulls, turtles, otters, and fish.

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