Northern cricket frog
|Northern cricket frog|
Acris crepitans blanchardi
The northern cricket frog (Acris crepitans) is a species of small hylid frog native to the United States and northeastern Mexico. Despite being members of the tree frog family, they are not arboreal. It has three recognized subspecies.
The northern cricket frog is one of North America's two smallest vertebrates, ranging from 19–38 mm (0.75–1.50 in) long. Its dorsal coloration varies widely, and includes greys, greens, and browns, often in irregular blotching patterns. One New York biologist has identified six distinct color morphs and four pattern morphs, and several intrergrades between these. Typically there is dark banding on the legs and a white bar from the eye to the base of the foreleg. The skin has a bumpy texture. It is very similar to the southern cricket frog, Acris gryllus, found in the US Southeastern Coastal Plain, but with some overlap along the fall line. The southern cricket frog has longer legs, with less webbing on the hind feet, and a more pointed snout; northern cricket frogs have been observed with snouts indistinguishable from those of the southern species. The line on the back of its[clarification needed] thigh is typically more sharply defined than that of the northern cricket frog. Biologists have recorded northern cricket frogs in the northern fringes of their range with extremely sharp posterior leg stripes.
Behavior and diet
Northern cricket frogs are diurnal and generally active much of the year, except in midwinter in northern areas when the water is frozen. Their primary diet is small (13 to 38 mm (0.5 to 1.5 in) long) insects, including mosquitos. They are, in turn, preyed upon by a number of species, including birds, fish, and other frogs. To escape predators, they are capable of leaping up to 3 feet in a single jump and are excellent swimmers.
Breeding generally occurs from May through July. The males call from emergent vegetation with a high-pitched, short, pebble-like call which is repeated at an increasing rate. The sound suggests pebbles being clicked together, much like a cricket, hence the name. One egg is laid at a time, generally attached to a piece of vegetation. The 14 millimetres (0.55 in) tadpoles hatch in only a few days, and undergo metamorphosis in early fall. Maturity is usually reached in less than a year.
Cricket frogs prefer the edges of slow-moving, permanent bodies of water. Large groups of them can often be found together along the muddy banks of shallow streams, especially during premigratory clustering. The northern cricket frog has been observed to hibernate upland, often at considerable distances from water.
- Blanchard's cricket frog, A. c. blanchardi (Harper, 1947)
- Eastern cricket frog, A. c. crepitans (Baird, 1854)
- Coastal cricket frog, A. c. paludicola (Burger, Smith and Smith, 1949)
- A. c. crepitans is found from New York, south to Florida, and west along the Gulf Coast states to Texas.
- A. c. paludicola occurs in southwestern Louisiana to East Texas.
- A. c. blanchardii is found from Michigan and Ohio, south through to most of Texas, and Mexico. It has been recorded in Minnesota and Colorado.
Frogs such as A. crepitans are important as an indicator of wetland health and general environmental quality in the areas they inhabit. Blanchard's cricket frogs, A. c. blanchardi, were once abundant in southern Michigan, but during the late 1970s and early 1980s, many populations in Michigan and the Great Lakes basin have disappeared. Thus, A. c. blanchardi is listed as a species of concern in the state of Michigan. Acris crepitans is also listed as an endangered species in New York. The largest remaining population of northern cricket frogs in New York survives at Orange County's Glenmere Lake/Black Meadow habitat.
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- Animal Diversity Web: Acris crepitans
- USGS: Northern Cricket Frog
- Frogs & Toads of Georgia: Acris crepitans crepitans
- Conant et al. (1998). A Field Guide to Reptiles and Amphibians of Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-90452-8.
- Martof et al. (1980). Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 0-8078-4252-4.
- NYS DEC Northern Cricket Frog Fact Sheet
- New York State's last population of acris crepitans' and the positive effect of continued fungicide treatment of the lake Chytrid theory
- "Acris crepitans". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 23 February 2009.