The Southern Cricket Frog: A Small but Amazing Amphibian

    The Southern Cricket Frog: A Small but Amazing Amphibian

    The southern cricket frog or southeastern cricket frog (Acris gryllus) is a small hylid frog native to the Southeastern United States. It is very similar in appearance and habits to the northern cricket frog, Acris crepitans, and was considered formerly conspecific (Dickerson 1906).

    The scientific name Acris is from the Greek word for locust, and the species name gryllus is Latin for cricket (Georgia Wildlife). The common name refers to their call, which resembles that of a cricket. The call is a series of metallic clicks that can be heard from a distance. The call is used by males to attract females and to defend their territories.

    The southern cricket frog is one of the smallest frogs in North America, measuring only 0.75–1.5 inches (16–32 mm) in length. It has a pointed snout, long hind legs, and sparse webbing on the toes. The coloration is variable, ranging from green, brown, gray, or black, with dark spots or stripes on the back and sides. The belly is white or yellowish. A distinctive feature is a sharply-defined black stripe on the back of the thigh.

    The southern cricket frog is characteristic of coastal plain bogs, bottomland swamps, ponds, and ditches. It prefers sunny areas, and is usually not found in woodlands. It can tolerate brackish water and temporary drying of its habitat. It is active throughout the year, except during cold spells when it may hibernate under leaf litter or debris.

    The southern cricket frog feeds on small insects and other invertebrates that it catches with its sticky tongue. It can jump long distances to escape predators or to catch prey. It is preyed upon by birds, snakes, turtles, fish, and other frogs.

    The breeding season of the southern cricket frog lasts from late winter to early fall, depending on the temperature and rainfall. The males call from floating vegetation or the water’s edge to attract females. The females lay up to 400 eggs in clusters attached to submerged plants or debris. The eggs hatch in a few days and the tadpoles metamorphose in about two months.

    The southern cricket frog has two subspecies: Acris gryllus gryllus, which is found in the Atlantic Coastal Plain from southeastern Virginia through the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi; and Acris gryllus dorsalis, which is found in the Gulf Coastal Plain from Louisiana to Florida. The two subspecies differ slightly in coloration and call frequency.

    The southern cricket frog is not threatened by human activities and has a large and stable population. However, it may be affected by habitat loss, pollution, disease, invasive species, and climate change in some areas. It is protected by state laws in some states where it occurs.

    The southern cricket frog is a fascinating amphibian that has adapted to a variety of habitats and conditions. It is one of the most common and widespread frogs in the Southeastern United States, and plays an important role in the ecosystem as both a predator and a prey. It is also a source of interest and enjoyment for many people who appreciate its beauty and its call.

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