Spring Peeper

Spring Peeper
Spring Peeper
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Hylidae
Genus: Pseudacris
Species: P. crucifer
Binomial name
Pseudacris crucifer
(Wied-Neuwied, 1838)

Hyla crucifer Wied-Neuwied, 1838
Hylodes pickeringii Holbrook, 1839
Acris pickeringii Jan, 1857
Hyliola pickeringii Mocquard, 1899
Hyla pickeringii Cope, 1899
Hyla crucifer Myers, 1927
Parapseudacris crucifer Hardy & Borroughs, 1986
Pseudacris crucifer Hedges, 1986
Hyla crucifer Cocroft, 1994

The Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) is a small chorus frog widespread throughout the eastern USA and Canada.


Etymology and taxonomy


There are two subspecies of the Spring Peeper, the Northern (P. c. crucifer) and the Southern Spring Peeper (P. c. bartramiana). The Northern is similar to the Southern except for a strong dark marking on the Southern frog's belly. The Southern (P. c. bartramiana) is limited to northern Florida and southern Georgia, while the northern can be found all over the eastern USA and eastern Canada.


On Martha's Vineyard, peepers are commonly called "pinkletinks"; in New Brunswick, Canada, they are sometimes called "tinkletoes", although not commonly known by that name, and usually referred to as simply "peepers". On Nova Scotia's South Shore, they are sometimes referred to as "pink-winks."

Anatomy and physiology

Spring Peeper

Spring Peepers are tan or brown in color with a dark cross that roughly forms an X on their dorsa (thus the Latin name crucifer, meaning cross-bearer[1]), though sometimes the marking may be indistinct.[2][3] They have a body length between less than an 1 inch (25 mm) to 1.5 inches (38 mm)[3] and a weight between 0.11 ounces (3.1 g) to 0.18 ounces (5.1 g).[2]

The species have large toe pads for climbing, although they are more at home amid the loose debris of the forest floor.[2]

The color variations of the P. crucifer are mostly tan, brown, olive green, and gray. Females are lighter-colored, while males are slightly smaller and usually have dark throats. This frog has a vocal sac located by its throat, which expands and deflates like a balloon to create a short and distinct peeping sound. Only males have the ability to make this loud high-pitched noise, and they use it to attract mates.


Spring Peeper

Spring Peepers primarily live in forests and regenerating woodlands near ephemeral or semi-permanent wetlands.[4] The amphibious species require marshes, ponds, or swamp regions in order to support the aquatic environment the eggs and tadpoles need.

In the northern reaches of their range, Spring Peepers must frequently endure occasional periods of subfreezing temperatures during the breeding season. The species can tolerate freezing of some of its body fluids, and undergoes hibernation under logs or behind loose bark on trees.[2] It is capable of surviving temperatures as low as -8°C.[5] This species frequently occurs in breeding aggregations of several hundred individuals, and commonly breeds in many small wetlands, including swamps, temporary pools and disturbed habitats such as farm ponds and borrow pits.[4]

Geographic range and habitat

The Southern Spring Peeper occurs only in southeastern Georgia and northern Florida, United States. Its northern conspecific occurs in the entire United States east of the Mississippi and spreads to eastern and central Canada.[2][4]



Spring Peepers are nocturnal carnivores, emerging at night to primarily feed on small invertebrates such as beetles, ants, flies, and spiders.[2] They do not climb high into trees but hunt in low vegetation. Spring Peepers living in deep damp forests are active hunters both day and night, whereas those found in woodland edges restrict most hunting and other activity to night.[3]

At the larva stage, tadpoles feed on algae and other organisms in the water. Its predators include great diving beetle larvae (when in tadpole form), snakes, skunks, and larger frogs.


As their common name implies, the Spring Peeper has a high-pitched call similar to that of a young chicken, only much louder and rising slightly in tone. They are among the first frogs in the regions to call in the spring.[6] As a chorus, they resemble the sounds of sleigh bells.[6][7] They are heard earlier in spring not long after the ice melts on the wetlands.[3] The species usually call from the edges of the bodies of water in which they breed, hidden near the bases of shrubs or grasses. Even when calling, the species may be difficult to locate, and are most easily seen when in amplexus in the shallows. As in other frogs, an aggressive call is made when densities are high. This call is a rising trill closely resembling the breeding call of the Southern Chorus Frog (Pseudacris nigrita nigrita).[4]

Breeding and reproduction

P. c. crucifer tadpoles, about 4-5 weeks old and ~24 hours away from complete metamorphosis.

Spring Peepers breed in southern areas from October to March, depending on the local temperature. In northern areas, they breed between the months of March to June when the warm rain starts. P. crucifer typically lay around 900 eggs per clutch, but up to 1000 is 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 usually 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 like to breed when it is closer to dusk and throughout the evening and early morning hours. Their calls can be heard from as far as one mile to two and a half miles depending on the amount of peepers in one pond. The Spring Peeper can go on to live an estimated 3 years in the wild.[2]

Conservation status

The Spring Peeper has no special status in most areas. They are common and widespread frogs in the eastern regions. However, their habitats are quickly changing due to loss of wetlands. In some areas, their populations have decreased significantly.[7]

The species are listed as threatened in both the states of Iowa[7] and Kansas.[8]


  • Hammerson (2004). Pseudacris crucifer. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. www.iucnredlist.org. Retrieved on 12 May 2006. Database entry includes a range map and justification for why this species is of least concern
  • Spring Peeper Species account from the Iowa Reptile and Amphibian Field Guide

External links

Data related to Pseudacris crucifer at Wikispecies

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • spring peeper — ☆ spring peeper n. a small tree frog (Hyla crucifer) of the E U.S., that makes shrill, peeping sounds in early spring …   English World dictionary

  • spring peeper — a tree frog, Hyla crucifer, having an X shaped mark on the back and voicing a shrill call commonly heard near ponds and swamps of eastern North America in the early spring. [1905 10, Amer.] * * * Species (Hyla crucifer) of tree frog found in… …   Universalium

  • spring peeper — spring′ peep′er n. ram a tree frog, Hyla crucifer, having anX shaped mark on the back and a shrill call commonly heard near ponds and swamps of E North America in the early spring • Etymology: 1905–10, amer …   From formal English to slang

  • spring peeper — noun a small brown tree toad having a shrill call heard near wetlands of eastern United States and Canada in early spring • Syn: ↑Hyla crucifer • Hypernyms: ↑tree toad, ↑tree frog, ↑tree frog • Member Holonyms: ↑Hyla, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • spring peeper — noun Date: 1906 a small brown tree frog (Pseudacris crucifer syn. Hyla crucifer) of the eastern United States and Canada that has a shrill piping call and breeds in ponds and streams in the spring …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • spring — springlike, adj. /spring/, v., sprang or, often, sprung; sprung; springing; n., adj. v.i. 1. to rise, leap, move, or act suddenly and swiftly, as by a sudden dart or thrust forward or outward, or being suddenly released from a coiled or… …   Universalium

  • peeper — peeper1 noun 1》 a person who peeps, especially in a voyeuristic way. 2》 (peepers) informal a person s eyes. peeper2 (also spring peeper) noun a small North American tree frog, the males of which sing in early spring. [Hyla crucifer.] …   English new terms dictionary

  • peeper — I. noun Date: 1607 1. one that peeps; specifically voyeur 2. eye II. noun Date: circa 1611 1. one that makes a peeping sound 2. any of various tree frogs that peep shrilly; especia …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • peeper — peeper1 /pee peuhr/, n. 1. a person or thing that emits or utters a peeping sound. 2. Northeastern U.S. any of several frogs having a peeping call, esp. the spring peeper. [1585 95; PEEP2 + ER1] peeper2 /pee peuhr/, n. 1. a person who peeps in an …   Universalium

  • peeper — I peep•er [[t]ˈpi pər[/t]] n. 1) a person who peeps in a prying manner; voyeur 2) sts peepers, Slang. the eyes • Etymology: 1645–55 II peep•er [[t]ˈpi pər[/t]] n. ram dial. spring peeper • Etymology: 1585–95 …   From formal English to slang

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