They’re back. Last week, the end of winter was officially heralded by the call of spring
peepers in the Arboretum’s wetland. Cold, gray skies be darned: spring is coming, and the peepers know it.
Who are these mysterious frogs, loudly heard but often unseen? Spring peepers are a tiny species of chorus frog, with a length of less than an inch. Their tannish coloring is marked by a brown “x” shape on their backs, and the males have a dark throat that expands and contracts like a balloon when they make their short, peeping call. The call attracts females, which are slightly larger than males.
During the winter, spring peepers hibernate under logs and behind loose bark. They emerge in late winter to lay their eggs in small wetlands, breeding in groups of several hundred. Their tadpoles eat algae, while the frogs themselves are insectivores. Peepers, in turn, make a tasty meal for snakes, skunks, raccoons, foxes, and larger frogs. Which could be why female peepers lay clutches of up to 900 eggs.
To everything there is a season. And for spring peepers, that season is now.
by Jenny Houghton
Youth Program Coordinator