Welcome back, Spring Peepers! I noticed the other night as I was driving home with my windows down that the Spring Peepers are back! Yayyy! I love listening to these little guys, because they are a sure sign that if Spring isn’t here yet, it soon will be.
I’m sure you have all probably heard them at some point (even if it’s just in a movie soundtrack). They are the chorus frogs most recognized by people. For those of you who have never met Pseudacris crucifer here is what they look like:
Cute, huh? They are only about 1 – 1.5 inches long, so they’re itty bitty amphibians with a huge sound! 🙂 Especially when they get together in large numbers. Here is an example of what they sound like:
Peepers can have tan, brown, green or grey skin and have a large darker color “X” pattern on their backs which makes them easy to identify.
These tiny frogs are nocturnal and have an average lifespan of only about 3 years. 😦 They also have large toe pads for climbing, but prefer to stay on the ground or on lily pads. They lay their eggs in water (usually about 900 of them at a go!) and are usually ready to leave the water after about eight weeks.
Spring Peepers hibernate during winter, like many frogs, and amazingly enough, they can allow most of their bodies to freeze and still survive! They do this “…by producing an anti-freeze like substance, glycerol, in their tissues. This prevents ice crystals from forming inside of their cells (thus killing the cell). They thaw and come out of hibernation when warm temperatures return in the spring.” (source: Biokids.umich.edu)
For those of you who don’t know, frogs (of all kinds) are what scientists call “Indicator Species”. What this means, is that frogs are a species of animal that are especially sensitive to changes in the environment, like diseases, pollution, climate change or threats from invasive and non-native species to an area. When frogs start dying off in an area, it’s a huge red flag to scientists that something is very wrong. Our little Spring Peeper buddies are actually on the “threatened species” list in Iowa and Kansas, due to severe loss of habitat (wetlands) from pollution and deforestation.
I’m so glad they’re still in abundance down here in TN! 🙂 Just hearing their symphony at night makes me smile, knowing that these tiny frogs are welcoming Spring in such a big way!