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Wednesday, 05 April 2006 00:00

I wanna another peep outta ya!

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Jeepers creepers, don’t ya here those peepers.

Gram for gram, Pseudacris crucifer is one of the loudest amphibians out there. The spring peeper weighs in at three to five grams and is about an inch long. When males congregate around standing water during mating season – now through May for Western North Carolina – the sound can be deafening.

Spring peepers have moderately webbed feet and flat disk-like toes. Officially a tree frog, peepers are good climbers but they seldom get more than a few feet above ground.

Spring peepers are found almost anywhere there is water from roadside ditches to marshes, swamps, streams, rivers and lake banks. They often utilize vernal pools during breeding season.

Primarily nocturnal, peepers seem to be most vocal around dusk and dawn.

If the male has the proper peep, a female will come in response. The male climbs aboard and the female enters the water where she will lay between 800 and 1,000 individual eggs, which the male fertilizes.

The eggs are attached to underwater vegetation where they hatch into tadpoles in about 12 days. The metamorphous from tadpole to frog takes about three months.

The tadpoles eat algae and tiny aquatic organisms. As they change into frogs their diet changes also. As adults, spring peepers feed on a variety of small insects and arthropods including beetles, ants and flies.

Not exactly a wanderer, the spring peeper’s home range is from four to 18 feet. When it does get the wanderlust it might roam up to 20 or 30 feet.

After mating the peepers disperse reverting to their more sedentary nocturnal lifestyle hunting for prey at night and singing occasionally. Peepers will often call during daylight hours if it is cloudy or rainy. The chorus generally stops by late summer but it is common to hear them again in autumn when day length and temperatures are spring-like. When winter arrives spring peepers seek shelter under logs, leaf litter and behind loose bark of trees. Peepers are one of those species of frogs whose body may actually freeze during winter.

If you need a great stress reliever find a nice wetlands – get there at dusk on a spring evening then let night and the peepers envelop you.

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