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Southern Cricket Frog

Southern Cricket Frog

Acris gryllus

Status: Not Listed

Classification: Amphibian

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 down the back, broken by a triangle pattern between the eyes. This frog is one of the best jumpers in the amphibian world, possessing the ability to reach a height of more than 60 times its body length when jumping upward—that’s equivalent to a person jumping up a 38-story building. These frogs can be between 0.5 and 1.25 inches (1.2 to 3.2 centimeters), with females growing slightly longer than males.

Range

Southern cricket frogs are found in the southeastern United States, from Virginia down to Florida and east to Louisiana. Although it’s a member of the tree frog family, the southern cricket frog is a ground-dwelling species that’s found in areas with shallow bodies of freshwater. Ponds, creeks, wetlands, and even roadside ditches are suitable habitats. The frog’s jumping abilities help them to avoid predators such as salamanders, snakes, turtles, and wading birds.

Diet

Adult southern cricket frogs are insectivorous and eat mostly mosquitoes. They attempt to catch prey by jumping forward and reaching with their tongues, sometimes even chasing after prey. In the tadpole stage, cricket frogs feed on plants.

Life History

To attract females and ward off other males, a male frog emits a call that sounds like marbles clicking together. Their 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. Many of the tadpoles don’t survive into adulthood, but those that do usually live for at least a year.

Conservation

The southern cricket frog’s population is stable. The frog is beneficial to humans because it consumes pest insects.

Fun Fact

Though they have cricket-like jumping abilities, these frogs actually take their name from the cricket-like call they use to attract mates and keep away other males.

Sources

Animal Diversity Web, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology

Hofrichter, R. Amphibians: The World of Frogs, Toads, Salamanders and Newts. Firefly Books: Buffalo, NY, 2000.

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