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Late June marks the onset of the breeding of the Cricket Frog. These small, usually warty little amphibians usually top out at around an inch in length. While classified as tree frogs these diminutive anurans are distinctly terrestrial. Frequently encountered far from water these little guys disperse into our forests in spring and early summer to feast on the multitude of insects and other creepy crawlies found there.
Named for their creaking, cricket-like call these creatures congregate around the shrinking and sometimes stagnant pools of creeks and other small bodies of water. Here the females select their mates and together they broadcast their eggs in thin films over the surface of the water. Once mating is completed the frogs again disperse into the surrounding woodlands and spend late summer and early fall fattening up in preparation for their long winter sleep.
The eggs hatch within a few days and the tadpoles grow rapidly on a diet of algae. Metamorphosis ordinarily occurs in September. However if the pond they inhabit dries up before then the tadpoles can hasten metamorphosis and escape as stunted froglets.
Despite their size these are tough little frogs. Active whenever the weather is above freezing they can be found nearly every month of the year. At least I've encountered them every month of the year. Important predators of insects these frogs are also important items of prey for a variety of larger animals.
Adult Cricket Frogs are often encountered far from water where they hunt through field and forest seeking small invertebrate prey. They are in turn important food sources for snakes, birds and other larger predators. Often mistaken for baby or immature frogs, these warty, rough-skinned amphibians come in a variety of patterns and are usually brown with traces of green streaking their backs. In our area one population in Pine Hills is known to be almost entirely green - apparently to enable them to successfully blend into their duckweed infested habitat.
The information on this page is tailored to Southern Illinois, Southwest Indiana, Western Kentucky, and Southeast Missouri
Copyright © 2005 Jim Jung. All rights reserved.
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