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Fun Facts About Spring Peepers: The Tiny Frog With A Big Sound

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Fun Facts About Spring Peepers: The Tiny Frog With A Big Sound

There are unmistakable signs that spring has finally sprung — spring flowers blooming, the return of the robins, and the unique sound of spring peepers. If you live anywhere east of the Mississippi River, then you’re probably very familiar with the sleigh bell-like sound of hundreds of chirping frogs. But why do peepers peep? And are they the only frogs that sing all night long? Here are some interesting facts about the tiny frog with a big sound.

Are Peepers the Only Noisy Frogs?
While spring peepers, pseudacris crucifer, are the most famous of all the chirping frogs, they’re not the only species native to North America. In fact, spring peepers belong to a group of frogs known as “chorus frogs.” Spring peepers live in the eastern half of North America, from northern Florida up into Canada. Then there are Western and boreal chorus frogs that have a range spanning between Ohio and Arizona, and north into central Canada.

How do you tell the difference between these frogs? The easiest way is to listen to their chirping. Spring peepers make a distinctive peeping noise that can sound a lot like jingling bells when there are a lot of peepers around. Western chorus frogs make a high pitched creaking sound, and boreal chorus frogs have a raspy chirp that sounds like the noise that you make when you run your fingernail over a fine-toothed comb.

Why Do Peepers Peep?
That nightly chorus that you hear on warm spring nights is actually a spring peeper mating ritual. The males of this species are calling out to the females, who are drawn to their chirping suitors. After the frogs mate, the females will lay eggs underwater. Those eggs hatch in approximately 12 days.

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What’s Up With the Bubble on a Frog’s Chin?
If you’ve ever seen a peeper peeping, then you’ve probably noticed the peculiar bubble that seems to form under the frog’s mouth. It’s not just spring peepers that can puff up their throats — many frogs can do this, but peepers are more numerous and therefore more easily spotted.

Male Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) With Vocal Sac Inflated as it Sings

Male Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) With vocal sac Inflated as it sings

This bubble is actually the frog’s vocal sac. To make their calls, peepers close their nostrils and mouths and squeeze their lungs, which causes the vocal sac in the throat to inflate like a balloon. The peeping sound happens as air leaves the lungs, passes over the vocal cords and into the vocal sac.

Did You Know Spring Peepers Can Survive Being Frozen?
Not all frogs in cold climates bury themselves deeply enough to avoid freezing temperatures in the winter. There are actually five species of frogs in North America that can freeze and survive. Two of these frogs are the spring peeper and the Western chorus frog. As temperatures dip below 32 degrees, these frogs start producing their own “antifreeze” to help preserve the most essential organs. Up to 70% of the frog’s body can freeze, to the point that the heart stops pumping and the frog appears to be dead. Scientists still aren’t sure how frozen frogs can wake up again, but once they thaw out and wake up, most frogs will go through a period of healing before they resume their normal lives.

Habitat, Diet, and Other Froggy Facts
Because chorus frogs need still water to lay their eggs, you’ll find spring peepers, boreal chorus frogs and Western chorus frogs in predominately marshy areas. Peepers especially love wooded wetlands or swampy areas near forested areas because they like to hibernate under tree bark or fallen logs.

Most chorus frogs are quite small — spring peepers and Western chorus frogs will grow to a maximum of 1.5 inches, while boreal chorus frogs top out at just over an inch. Because of their minute size, these frogs feed on small bugs like ants or small beetles.

When it comes to looks, spring peepers are easily identified by a dark X-shaped marking across their backs. Other chorus frogs have spotted or striped markings.

Warm weather is almost here! If you have the chance, spend an evening outside listening to the sounds of spring. Among them, you’ll hear the chirps of these amazing little frogs.

Take a listen to the sounds of the chorus of spring peepers here!

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12 comments

1 Mary Miller { 05.31.17 at 11:50 am }

I have done some further investigation on frogs and find that these are most closely related to the GRAY TREE FROG. Any idea how I can safely transfer them from my pool cover and put them in a safe, proper place?
Thanks Mary

2 Mary Miller { 05.31.17 at 11:43 am }

I live in Northeastern Pennsylvania. I recently heard a very loud, throaty sound in my back yard. I thought there was an animal in my above ground pool which is still covered. When I investigated I found a very small frog that looks exactliy like the frog above, the peeper. What type of frog could this be. I have seen at least 3 or 4 of them on my pool cover which has water on it from the winter and rain. I dont want to hurt them by uncovering my pool which would leave them with no water source. I dont know what to do, can you help. I do have pictures of them that I can possibly send if you need.
Thanks

3 Eileen { 04.30.17 at 10:50 am }

I love the sound of the Spring Peepers! Although I knew they were small, I didn’t realize they were THAT small!!! A maximum of 1.5″!!! Wow!

4 Chipawalady { 03.24.17 at 10:16 pm }

My Great Granddad always said that when you hear the peepers the first time, you will have 3 more freezes, then warmer weather will prevail.

5 Jeanette Demmer Biltz { 06.27.16 at 12:48 am }

I saved some of the peep frog baby tadpoles that I found swimming around my pool cover when I was opening it. I didn’t want to kill them so I put them in a tote with some aeration. Now, how do I keep them alive? I have about 50 of them. Three of them have become little frogs about the size of my little fingernail. I had put about 200 of them in my pond, but the fish ate them. I have been feeding them my koi fish food which I ground up like powder. I also put some rocks sticking up out of the water so the little frogs could get on them. I feel bad I transferred the adult peep frogs into my pond from the pool cover when I was opening the pool. They wouldn’t stay, they went back to the pool and I found about seven of them dead the next day from the chlorine.
Can anyone give me advice on how to keep these baby frogs, what I should feed them till they become large enough to put them into my pond. Hopefully they would stay in the pond if they were put there when they are young and yet large enough not to be eaten.

6 Jay ... { 05.17.16 at 2:14 pm }

Hummmm…. Interesting Maureen

7 Lee Hudgins { 05.16.16 at 5:34 pm }

I know when I start hearing peepers, warm weather is right around the corner! I welcome the chorus!

8 irene { 03.26.16 at 8:52 pm }

I now live on the Mississippi in Nauvoo and sooooooooo love these sounds. I open the window at night no matter how cold to have them sing me to sleep. The Co-Qui have made it to Hawaii with some plants that Walmart brought in. These are very very tiny frogs and they have A VERY BIG BIG SHARP SOUND. hard to sleep with the Co-Qui chirping.

9 Corey { 03.24.16 at 4:56 pm }

Ive heard that when you hear them in the spring that’s the sign that the sucker fish are running in the creeks ( at least in Minnesota) What do you think?

10 Richard Hay { 03.24.16 at 9:25 am }

I love these little guys. I also love the sounds of the Co-Qui which are exclusive to Puerto Rico and make this exact sound “Co qui”

11 Melanie Roberts { 03.24.16 at 4:21 am }

I have always enjoyed he Springtime smoggy sounds of these little frog goes!

12 Naomi { 03.23.16 at 10:50 pm }

Aaaaahhhh!!! Music to my soul!!!

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