This small, slender frog can be pink, gray, tan, or light brown and has a dark X on its back. This mark can be faint in light-colored frogs and dark on darker ones. A dark line runs across the top of the head between the eyes, and there are dark bars on the legs. The belly is a plain cream color. The finger- and toetips have adhesive pads. The high-pitched, peeping call, repeated about once a second, can be heard on warm spring nights and also during the day in early summer and fall.
Hylidae (treefrogs and allies) in the order Anura (frogs)
Length: ¾ to 1¼ inches.
Where To Find
Nearly statewide, but not found in northwestern Missouri.
This woodland species lives near ponds, streams, and swamps where there is thick undergrowth. Breeding occurs in fishless woodland ponds, temporary pools, water-filled ditches, or semipermanent, fishless swamps, especially if brush, branches, and rooted plants are standing in the water.
Spring peepers eat a variety of small insects and spiders.
Common in Missouri; this species needs access to ephemeral, swampy ponds and pools in woodlands and has become threatened in states where wetland habitat has shrunk.
These frogs are active from late winter to late fall; breeding is in late February to mid-May in small woodland pools. Males call from the water’s edge or from objects emerging from the water. The female lays up to 900 eggs; these are fertilized by the male as they are laid. The eggs are laid singly, attached to vegetation in shallow water, and hatch in 3–4 days. Tadpoles metamorphose 2 months later. This frog overwinters in the soil; a natural antifreeze in their blood keeps them from freezing.
One of the first species to begin calling in the spring, this amphibian’s peeping, jingling choruses are greeted as a true harbinger for the new season.
Tadpoles may be eaten by salamander larvae, and adults are eaten by various predators, including predaceous diving beetles and giant water bugs. Spring peepers help control populations of the insects on which they feed.
Prairie Home Conservation Area, located in eastern Cooper County, is an upland area with a mix of oldfields, small cropfields, grasslands, and woodlands. The original acquisition in 1963 included 212
About Reptiles and Amphibians in Missouri
Missouri’s herptiles comprise 43 amphibians and 75 reptiles. Amphibians, including salamanders, toads, and frogs, are vertebrate animals that spend at least part of their life cycle in water. They usually have moist skin, lack scales or claws, and are ectothermal (cold-blooded), so they do not produce their own body heat the way birds and mammals do. Reptiles, including turtles, lizards, and snakes, are also vertebrates, and most are ectothermal, but unlike amphibians, reptiles have dry skin with scales, the ones with legs have claws, and they do not have to live part of their lives in water.