Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Northern Cricket Frog

The northern cricket frog is one of New York State's smallest vertebrates. This frog is an aquatic species, and although it belongs to the tree-frog family, Hylidae, which includes such well-known climbers as the spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) and gray treefrog (Hyla versicolor), it does not climb very much. It is, however, among the most agile of leapers and can jump surprisingly long distances (5-6 feet) for its small size.

Adults average only 1 inch (2.5 cm) in length; the male is usually smaller than the female. Cricket frogs exhibit a myriad of patterns and combinations of black, yellow, orange or red on a base of brown or green. Distinguishing characteristics are small size, dorsal warts, a blunt snout, a dark triangular-shaped spot between the eyes, and a ragged, longitudinal stripe on the thigh. The webbing on the hind foot is extensive, reaching the tip of the first toe and the next to last joint of the longest toe.

This frog was named for its breeding call, which sounds very much like the chirp or trill of a cricket, "gick, gick, gick...," repeated for 20 or more beats. The sound has been likened to two pebbles being clicked together, slowly at first, then picking up in speed.

This frog, which may be reproductively active for 3-10 years, is one of the last frogs in the northern part of its range to come into full chorus in New York. Breeding occurs from June to July. A single female may lay several dozen filmy egg masses on aquatic vegetation, each containing 5-10 eggs. In about 4 days, tadpoles with black-tipped tails emerge. They develop relatively slowly, feeding mostly on algae and zooplankton, until transforming into sub-adults by mid-September, often at a length as small as 5/8 inch (16 mm). It is generally believed that the cricket frog spends the coldest winter months burrowed in muck or peat below the frost line, although there is evidence in New York that some individuals may overwinter in upland sites.

Source: Wikipedia


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