Spring is right around the corner! And for me one of the first signs of spring are the spring peepers. Spring peepers (not to be confused with peeps) are tiny little tree frogs ranging from southeastern Canada throughout the eastern United States. Adult spring peepers are typically around 2.5 centimeters in length and weigh 3 to 5grams – so they are very tiny. You may never actually get to see spring peepers, but I’m sure you heard them before. As the sun starts to set the peepers start to chorus. And as their name suggests, they peep, and they peep loudly. Frogs will call to advertise that it is breeding season and they are looking for a girlfriend. They create choruses because calling can be dangerous. By calling out they are letting any predators in the area know where they are, which is not ideal. But calling with a group in a chorus helps to protect the individual. A predator will have a harder time pinpointing where the frogs are if everyone around the pond is calling out at the same time. Safety in numbers.
As I said, the spring peepers are calling to advertise that it’s breeding season. Once a male is successful in finding a female, they will lay eggs in water … usually something like a vernal pool, pond, or similar wetlands that doesn’t have fish present. One female spring peeper can lay up to 1200 eggs. Now, all the eggs might not hatch into tadpoles, and all the tadpoles will definitely not metamorph into frogs. But a large number of new tiny frogs will be recruited into the population by the end of breeding season.
Now that we’ve learned a little bit about the spring peepers, I challenge you to go outside, safely, in the evening and wait a quietly for few minutes and see if you hear any frogs start calling. You could even just try opening a window at sunset and listening for the peeping to begin.
(photo: Robert Hill)
Keeper III, Herpetology