Scientific Name: Pseudacris crucifer
Classification: Nongame species
Abundance: Found statewide (except Outer Banks)
Species profile (PDF)
Photo by USGS
The spring peeper's most distinctive trait is the dark cross or "x"-shaped blotch that is usually found on its back. In fact, the species name "crucifer" means "cross-bearing." The spring peeper can be tan, gray, yellowish, orange or pinkish. It is a small frog with small toe pads. Spring peepers are found throughout most of North Carolina, with the exception of the Outer Banks. They inhabit woodlands and swamps, preferring areas of thick, brushy undergrowth near ephemeral or semipermanent ponds. They lay their eggs singly, submerged near vegetation at the bottom of the pond. The tadpole period is at least 6 weeks. After metamorphosis, young spring peepers move into the surrounding woodlands.
Rarely seen during the summer months, spring peepers loudly announce their presence during warm, rainy nightts and overcast days, most frequently from November to April. However, if conditions are right, they may call at any time of the year.
The spring peeper is one of many North Carolina frogs that spends much of its time living in upland habitats. Human activities that alter habitat surround wetlands may be detrimental to populations of this species.
Learn more by reading the spring peeper species profile.
The spring peeper is classified as a nongame species with no open season. It is unlawful for any person to take, or have in possession, any nongame mammal or bird unless that person has a collection license or is collecting fewer than 5 reptiles or fewer than 25 amphibians that are not endangered, threatened, or special concerned species.
There are no reported problems with this species.
Frogs and toads can be monitored fairly easily in a variety of ways. One way is through frog call monitoring. The North Carolina Calling Amphibian Survey Program attempts to do just that by corralling data collected by volunteers across the state that monitors specific frog call routes. Each species of frog and toad has a unique call that is distinguishable from others. Some are more difficult for humans to separate than others, but the frogs know who’s who! Learn your frog calls, and you too can distinguish who’s calling in the ponds. Another way to monitor frogs and toads is by looking for egg masses deposited in wetlands and/or by looking for tadpoles in those same wetlands. Different frogs breed at different times of the year, so when to look for eggs is dependent on the species of interest. Eggs typically hatch within a couple weeks of being deposited, so there is a fairly short window for detection. Frog eggs can sometimes be identified to family, but are somewhat tricky to identify to species level. Tadpole identification can be similarly tricky, so learning and listening to frog calls is definitely the easiest method for determining what frogs and toads are using a wetland. Tadpoles are a little easier to monitor, as most species have tadpoles present in wetlands for longer periods of time. This is, again, variable by species. Most species have tadpole stages that last at least several months, but the range in timing for different species is everything from a couple of weeks to several years. The smaller frog and toad species tend to have shorter tadpole cycles, while the larger frogs and toads tend to have longer times to metamorphosis.
Spring Peeper Species Profile
Wildlife Diversity Program Quarterly Reports
Spring Peeper (Photo by Jeff Beane)
Spring Peeper (Photo Brian Gratwicke/Wikimedia)
The call of a spring peeper is a high-pitched, whistle-like "peep," which can be heard from about a mile away. Large choruses of spring peepers may sound like sleigh bells.