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Audubon Outdoors

Spring Peepers

By: Ron Dodson

Spring has “sprung” in upstate New York and it is great to hear the spring peepers sounding off as I take my daily walks. The spring peeper is a Spring Peepervery small frog, that is not often seen, but often heard as it calls for mates from the soggy and wet places in the fields and ditches every spring.

The spring peeper's habitat includes the Gulf Coast from southeastern Texas to southeastern Georgia and northern Florida, United States covering most of the entire United States east of the Mississippi and spreads to all the way north to eastern and central Canada.

As their common name implies, the spring peeper has a high-pitched call. They are among the first frogs in the regions to call in the spring. As a chorus, some people say that they resemble the sounds of sleigh bells. They are heard early in spring not long after the ice melts on the wetlands. The males usually call from the edges of the bodies of water in which they breed, hidden near the bases of shrubs or grasses. As with other frogs, an aggressive call is made when densities are high.

Spring peepers breed in southern areas from October to March, depending on the local temperature. In northern areas, they breed between March and June, when the warm rains start. Spring peepers typically lay around 900 eggs per clutch, but up to 1000 are possible. Egg clusters are hidden under vegetation or debris at the water base. After hatching, they transform into frogs and are ready to leave the water in about eight weeks. In very cold weather, they hibernate under logs and loose bark. Spring peepers often call day and night as long as the temperature is above freezing, but they are mostly heard and usually not seen because they hide in dense plants. They are especially easy to hear due to their extremely loud mating call which gives them the name "peeper", but it is often hard to pinpoint the source of the sound, especially when many are peeping at once. The peepers generally breed close to dusk and throughout the evening and early morning hours. Their calls can be heard from as far as one to two and a half miles, depending on their numbers. The spring peeper can live an estimated three years in the wild.

Have you heard the Spring peepers calling in your neck of the woods?



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