YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — Turn up the volume-this one’s all about the sound.
We were able to get some pretty good audio of spring peepers one night when they weren’t being drowned out by the roar of passing cars and the rumble of airplanes flying overhead. Of course, total darkness doesn’t photograph too well, so we’ve covered the audio with a little timelapse of the wetland where the peepers were peeping.
The spring peeper, Pseudacris crucifer, is Pennsylvania’s smallest frog. Their maximum size ranges from 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches. This, combined with their color (reddish-brown to chocolate brown, depending on their habitat), makes them very hard to spot. It’s a lot easier to just listen for them.
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If you do want to go looking for spring peepers, you should probably plan to wear some rubber boots. Spring peepers like it damp-they prefer to do their peeping from wetlands, ponds, swamps, bogs or marshes. You can find them on the ground or in bushes.
They also climb trees. Spring peepers are tree frogs and have suction pads to help them climb trees. (The spring peeper is one of three tree frogs in Pennsylvania. The other two are the gray tree frog and the northern cricket frog.) So, if you’re not having any luck spotting peepers on the ground, try looking up. If you find a frog, the best way to identify it as a peeper is to look for an X-shaped mark on its back.
So what’s all the peeping about? It’s a mating ritual. The males call to attract females. This can start as early as March if it gets warm enough-about 50 degrees, preferably with some rain. Males who peep the loudest and fastest have the best chance of finding a mate. The female will lay her eggs underwater, and the male will fertilize them. One female can produce 750 to 1,200 pinhead-sized eggs. The eggs then hatch into tadpoles, which will eventually develop into frogs-assuming something doesn’t eat them first. If the tadpoles make it to adult frogdom, they can live for three to four years if something doesn’t eat them first.
The mating and calling season will last somewhere between four to eight weeks. The frogs will remain active through summer. As cooler temperatures return in the fall and winter, they will go into hibernation, burrowing into the ground, or sheltering under rotting logs or rocks. They can even survive being frozen-their livers generate a lot of glucose, which serves as a sort of antifreeze. Then, as the warm weather returns, they come out of hibernation, and the whole cycle starts all over-assuming something doesn’t eat them first. (Nobody ever said the life of a frog is easy.)