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Canadian Herpetological Society





Société d'herpétologie du Canada



Pseudacris crucifer
Spring Peeper / Rainette crucifère


Spring Peeper
© Jeffrey Patton

Description
The Spring Peeper is a typical treefrog being small, with enlarged toe pads and varying in colour from tan to gray. It is distinguished from other treefrogs by a dark X on the back. These tiny frogs reach no more than 3 cm.

Call
The breeding call of the Spring Peeper is one of the earliest heard in the spring. Each call is a single, loud, high pitched peep repeated over and over. A full chorus can be deafening up close and carries over half a kilometre. In large choruses, Peepers also trill, advising other males to keep their distance.

Confusing Species
Other treefrogs which overlap its range are the Boreal Chorus Frog, Western Chorus Frog, Gray Treefrogs and the Blanchard's Cricket Frog. The Chorus Frogs have three stripes down the back while the Gray Treefrogs have large dark blotches. The Eastern Cricket Frog, limited only to extreme southern Ontario, has a dark triangle between the eyes and less distinct markings on the back than the other three species.

Distribution
The Spring Peeper is widely distributed in eastern North America. In Canada it is found in Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. It can be found as far south as Florida.

Habitat
Spring Peepers are found in a wide range of habitats and seem to breed almost anywhere there is water although they are characteristic of temporary woodland ponds. They reach their highest density in brushy second growth or cutover woodlands. They apparently cannot withstand extensive urbanization.

Reproduction
Spring Peepers are one of the earliest frogs to begin calling and continue to call throughout the spring. One female lays 800- 1000 eggs singly or in small groups and are therefore rarely seen. Tadpoles hatch in six to twelve days and complete metamorphosis after about two months.

Natural History
Although widespread and abundant, and though their call is familiar to many, it takes great patience and persistence to actually find a Spring Peeper. Peepers hibernate under logs and loose bark and are freeze tolerant. They are sometimes heard calling again in the fall but this does not result in breeding activity.

Conservation Concerns
Although this species is stable throughout most of its range, populations in the Toronto area have disappeared, presumably due to urbanization and habitat modification.