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spring-pepper

X Marks the spot

As the temperatures start to drop below 0 over here in the UK. There is no better animal to report on then the Spring Peeper. A petite frog only measuring between three-quarters to one and a half inches in size (size of a paper clip). These tiny tree frogs can be found throughout most of the eastern area of the United states and Canada.  They can come in a range of colours but they will mainly have white bellies and colour depends on the colouration of leaves along with temperatures of where they live. They range from grey, olive, brown and green in colour. They are interesting in many ways but as you can see by this photo the X on the back of the frog. The word crucifer in their latin name means cross-bearer.

 

Due to their small size, the frog can easily become lost in its natural habitat. If you were to go looking for these frogs they can be found in marshy woods, near ponds and swamps. Although they are associated with the tree frogs they actually do prefer to be ground dwelling creatures rather than arboreal creatures. They usually inhabit these areas due to breeding, they will breed in ponds that don’t have any fish in. They actually don’t have long lifespans only an average of three to four years at the most. The adults will usually have a diet which consists of Bettles, ants, flies and spiders. They are hunted by many predators though like snakes, salamanders, carnivorous insects, and raptors and other birds. There small size and colouration helps with making sure they are well hidden from potential predators.

They are solitary animals and only come together during mating season. When mid-December hits while we are keeping warm these frogs will begin to go into hibernation. Most frogs and toads that are terrestrial are very good at digging. They will dig deep into the soil and stay there until temperatures warm up. But what about the Spring Peeper frog? With its small feet, it is impossible for them to dig considerably down in the ground. Instead, they freeze, yes that’s right the frogs are one of 5 frogs in North America that actually just freeze. Frogs like humans are ectothermic meaning they rely on the temperature of the environment around them to warm up along with energy from food. As the winter hits the Spring Peeper frog will find a little living space to protect them from predators. They will then produce an anti-freeze substance and the organs of the frog will start to slow down eventually with the heart coming to a complete stop. Ice crystals will form in their organs and body cavity, a high concentration of glucose in the frog’s vital organs prevents them from completely freezing and dying. Once spring arrives and temperatures start to heat up then this will “de-ice” the frog.

The Spring Peppers will now begin to “peep”. They are nocturnal animals and on warm nights they will sing to attract females.  They can sing up to 20 times per minute, the male

pseudacris-crucifer-dsc_2718

Male Spring Peeper calling

who sings the loudest and fastest will be more attractive to females. Most the males will gather around a pond and just sing. The females can lay many eggs anywhere between 750-1,200 eggs will be attached to the aquatic vegetation. The males will then fertilise the eggs as they are laid. The tadpoles depending upon the temperature will hatch between 2-3 weeks and the tadpoles will become frogs between 6 and 12 weeks.

 

Interesting fact you didn’t know before reading this!!!

The Spring Peeper hides in the mud or in deep water during the summer to avoid extremely high temperatures.

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