Southern Cricket Frog
Scientific Name: Acris gryllus
Description: The southern cricket frog is a species of tree frog with rough, warty skin in a variety of colors. Some are black, brown, red, green, or gray, but all have a bright stripe of color running from the tip of the snout and down their backs, broken by a triangle pattern between the eyes. This frog is one of the best jumpers in the amphibian world. It can reach a height of over 60 times its body length when jumping upward—that’s like a person jumping up a 38 story building! Their jumping abilities help them to avoid predators such as salamanders, snakes, turtles, and wading birds.
Size: Females are slightly longer (16-33 mm) than the males (15-29 mm).
Diet: Adult southern cricket frogs are insectivorous and mostly eat mosquitoes. They attempt to catch prey by jumping forward and reaching with their tongues and sometimes even chase after prey. In the tadpole stage, cricket frogs are herbivorous.
Typical Lifespan: Many of the tadpoles don’t survive into adulthood, but those that do usually live for at least a year.
Habitat: Although it is a member of the tree frog family, the southern cricket frog is a ground-dwelling species that is found in areas with shallow bodies of freshwater. Ponds, creeks, wetlands, and even roadside ditches are suitable habitat.
Range: Found in the southeast, from Virginia south to Florida and east to Louisiana.
Life History and Reproduction: Males emit a call that sounds like marbles clicking together to attract females and warn off other males. Breeding season runs from February through October, but males continue to call throughout the year. Eggs are laid in freshwater and the tadpoles mature into adults after 90 to 100 days.
Fun Fact: You might think that these cricket frogs are named for their cricket-like jumping abilities. Actually, they take their name from the cricket-like call they use to attract mates and keep away other males.
Conservation Status: Stable. The southern cricket frog is beneficial to humans because it consumes pest insects.
University of Michigan Animal Diversity Web
Hofrichter, R. Amphibians: The World of Frogs, Toads, Salamanders and Newts. Firefly Books: Buffalo, NY, 2000.