Gearing Up for Summertime

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Local Communities, Milwaukee Living

There are many different ways to tell that spring has arrived in our Milwaukee area; flocks of robins start greeting the morning right outside of your bedroom windows, crocuses push their blossoms through the hidden patches of snow; and of course, hearing the first chirps of spring peepers looking for love. These amazing little frogs are one sure sign of the new season and possibly the most difficult to locate.


Songs of the night.


Spring peepers are members of the frog groups known as “chorus frogs.” Peepers live east of the Mississippi river from Florida north into Canada and can be found along the walking trails surrounding Mallard Lake in Whitnall Park. The easiest way to find these tiny frogs is to listen to their chirping. Spring peepers sound a lot like tinkling, jingling bells when singing in a group. The nocturnal chorus that you hear during warm spring nights are part of the spring peeper mating ritual. The males are singing their love songs to the females, who are drawn to that one singer and song, which makes their little amphibian heart go pitter-pat. After the frogs consummate their relationship, the females find quiet bodies of water to lay eggs, which will hatch in about two weeks.


Jeepers, creepers, where did you get those peepers?


Spring peepers are small tree frogs. Their bodies have smooth skin in shades of tan, brown, green, or gray, with dark lines that form a telltale X on their backs and a dark line between their eyes.  Underneath the skin color will vary from white to cream-colored and you will notice darker grey bands on their legs. Spring peepers are aided by their small size and color changing abilities to camouflage themselves to match their surroundings. Although they are good climbers, they hide from their many predators during the day amongst the leaf litter and grasses and emerge at night to feed on small bugs. Peepers are common throughout their range. However, urban sprawl and the loss of wetland habitat does pose a threat to the populations in some regions.


I would like to order a frozen peeper pop.


Spring peepers belong to a unique group of critters – they can be frozen solid and survive to thaw out and sing again the following spring! Not all cold climate frogs bury themselves in the mud of the pond bottom. Spring peepers start producing a natural antifreeze in their blood once the temperature begins to drop below freezing. In the winter, these frozen frogs can be found hibernating under logs or behind loose bark on trees, waiting for the spring thaw and their chance to welcome the warm weather.


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