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The Herps of La Crosse

Living With Herps

Easy Herp Monitoring

Herps as Pets

General Herp Info

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Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)



Pictured Above:  A male Spring Peeper (right).  Note the "X" pattern on his back.


Description: Spring Peepers are brownish-beige frogs with whitish bellies.  Their backs usually have a distinct "X" pattern (pictured above).  The toes of these frogs are only partially webbed and have very small "suction cups" on the tips (compared to treefrogs).  They are very small and generally similar in size to the Western Chorus Frog (1 1/4" snout to rump length).  These frogs are members of the family Hylidae, which includes many treefrogs worldwide.  Within Wisconsin, they are most closely related to the Western Chorus Frog, with whom they share the same genus (Pseudacris).


Habitat/Ecology: The Spring Peeper prefers damp woodlots or meadows near ponds and marshes.  They do not seem to enjoy wetlands that have been excessively disturbed by humans.  Spring Peepers spend most of their time under wet leaves and logs (especially in lowland forests) except during the breeding season when they come out into the open to mate.  These frogs eat insects, worms, and slugs among other things.  They are secretive when not breeding, but if exposed (such as during the breeding season) they make easy prey for several larger predators (such as birds, snakes, or raccoons).


Remarks: Male Spring Peepers begin calling in late March or early April and often continue through late May.  Their call is a single "peep" repeated over and over again, and it is from this call that they name "Spring Peeper" comes from.  A full chorus of many Peepers can fill the night air and be deafening.  Like the Wood Frog and Gray Treefrog, Spring Peepers can withstand partial freezing as they hibernate in the leaf litter during the colder months, yet emerge unharmed when spring arrives due to a special "anti-freeze" produced by their cells.

I have heard loud choruses of Spring Peepers in the Myrick Park Marsh (La Crosse River Marsh) concurrently with Western Chorus Frogs and Leopard Frogs.  I also believe them to be common in many other wetland habitats found throughout the La Crosse area.  These frogs usually call the most at a slightly later date than do Chorus Frogs and I believe that the flood waters in 2001 within the Marsh had begun to subside before the males started calling heavily.  They can also be heard calling on Goose Island as well as marshy areas near Green Island to name few more places