This week we feature another tiny frog for Frog Friday, the Southern Cricket Frog (Acris gryllus). This species is just over ½ – 1-¼ inches long and looks quite similar to the Northern Cricket Frog. Like the Northern, Southern Cricket frogs are variable in pattern and in color, ranging from black to brown to reddish, to green, or gray. Also like the Northern, the Southern lacks toe pads and is “warty” in appearance.
One difference between the two species is their range. The Southern Cricket Frog is only found in southeastern Virginia, whereas the Northern Cricket Frog has a much larger range, including the Northern Mountains, the Piedmont, and the Eastern Shore. However, range isn’t always useful for distinguishing the two species. The southern portion of the Northern Cricket Frog’s range does overlap with much of the Southern’s, so it is possible in this area to find both Northern and Southern Cricket Frogs living in the same wetland.
How can you tell these two similar-looking species apart in areas where their range overlaps? Fortunately, there are some visual differences. The Southern Cricket Frog has a pointier head and less webbing on its toes than the Northern. It also has a complete dark stripe on the thigh between two well defined light stripes, whereas the Northern has a ragged edged stripe on its thigh.
Another distinguishing trait between the two species is their call. The Southern Cricket Frog’s call sounds like a rattle or metal clicker, but is somewhat similar to the Northern Cricket Frog’s sound of clicking marbles. However, the two calls do differ in pace; the Northern’s begins slow and then becomes increasingly rapid, whereas the Southern’s call is steadily rapid throughout the sequence. See if you can distinguish the two species by playing their calls below.
Call of the Southern Cricket Frog
Call of the Northern Cricket Frog
The Southern Cricket Frog lives primarily in ponds, bogs, riverine swamps and other lowland wetland habitats and is abundant along their grassy margins. Breeding occurs from April – August in nearly any shallow freshwater habitat. Females may deposit up to 150 eggs, which either attach to stems or are strewn on the bottom. The tadpoles metamorphose in 50–90 days.
This article is presented as part of our year-long Virginia is for Frogs campaign. Please visit the campaign webpage to learn more about Virginia’s 27 frog species and ways that you can become involved in their conservation. Are you an educator? Check out the Virginia is for Frogs Teacher’s Corner for frog-related lesson plans and activities.