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Discover Nature: Spring Peepers

A greenish-tan-yellow spring peeper frog clings to the stem of a plant as its inflated vocal sac protrudes from its lower jaw.
A camouflaged spring peeper clings to the stem of a plant as its inflated vocal sac protrudes from below its jaw. Listen for the calls of spring peepers this week, as these harbingers of spring emerge and congregate near swampy ponds, pools, and wetlands

This week on Discover Nature take a walk outside, and you may hear one of the first serenades of spring on the horizon.

   

 

Spring peepers have spent the winter burrowed under soil – a natural antifreeze in their blood keeping them thawed.  

 

One of the first species to begin calling in the spring, this small, slender frog can appear pink, gray, tan, or brown, with a dark ‘X’ on its back.

 

Roughly one-inch in length, they breed in fishless ponds, streams and swamps with thick undergrowth.  

 

Males fertilize eggs as females lay them.  Eggs attach to vegetation in shallow water, and hatch in three-to-four days.  Tadpoles metamorphosize two months later.  

 

Though common in Missouri, this species needs access to ephemeral, swampy ponds and pools in woodlands, and has become threatened in states where wetland habitat has shrunk.

 

Learn more about spring peepers and other frogs emerging this spring with the Missouri Department of Conservation’s online field guide

 

Discover Nature is sponsored by the Missouri Department of Conservation. 

Kyle Felling was born in the rugged northwest Missouri hamlet of St. Joseph (where the Pony Express began and Jesse James ended). Inspired from a young age by the spirit of the early settlers who used St. Joseph as an embarkation point in their journey westward, Kyle developed the heart of an explorer and yearned to leave for adventures of his own. Perhaps as a result of attending John Glenn elementary school, young Kyle dreamed of becoming an astronaut, but was disheartened when someone told him that astronauts had to be good at math. He also considered being a tow truck driver, and like the heroes of his favorite childhood television shows (The A-Team and The Incredible Hulk) he saw himself traveling the country, helping people in trouble and getting into wacky adventures. He still harbors that dream.
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