Scientific Name: Acris crepitans
Classification: Amphibian, Order Anura, Family Hylidae
Size: Between 0.87 to 1.14 inches
Life Span: typically 4-12 months but sometimes as long as 3 years
Habitat: These little frogs may prefer the mountains and marshes but they can survive in a multitude of habitats given that there is a permanent body of water nearby which is preferably surrounded by green foliage.
Diet: These frogs eat primarily insects and arachnids; they are opportunistic predators meaning they’ll eat whatever they can catch and fit in their mouth regardless of time of day or the species. On a daily basis cricket frogs eat around 20 insects and search for food three times a day; as tadpoles they survive off of filter feeding algae and phytoplankton. Within their ecosystem these frogs are a great at mitigating local insect populations and they can consume up to 4,800 insects per individual in a year.
Distribution: Northern cricket frogs are found throughout the east coast of America; this species can be found throughout the continent of North America from Canada to Mexico although they are most common in the Piedmont regions within Virginia. In September you may notice these frogs disappear, this is normal as they burrow beneath the soil under to hibernate until spring comes.
This is one of the smallest frogs in Virginia ranging from 22-29 millimeters in length, the largest of these frogs are often found in more arid regions as humidity determines their size at maturity. This frog has a olive green color with a lighter belly and a darker patch shaped like a triangle between it’s eyes, it has a highly variable back pattern and a dark, ragged edged stripes that can be either red, grey or green, on its thigh; green is by far the most common color to see and the vibrancy and hue of their stripes vary between individuals and during the breeding season the males have a notable yellow tinge to their throat pouch.
It has a call of “gick, gick, gick” like two marbles being clicked together slowly at first, then becoming more rapid. When attempting to assert dominancy or search for mates the males will lower their vocal pitch to between 2.7 and 4.o kilohertz depending on the local population. In forested areas these frogs’ calls often seem to rattle and be a higher pitch then in open areas.
Tadpoles and juvenile behavior
Northern cricket frogs hatch from their eggs in 29-90 days between July and August. The tadpoles may have beige tails or if dragonfly larvae are present they will develop black tails as a defense mechanism against predation. As tadpoles they prefer to stick to the shallow regions of their water and aren’t effected by temperatures to the degree of other amphibians allowing them to thrive in both cold and warm climates. They typically metamorphosize during July into their adult forms.
Did You Know?
The most common predators of Northern cricket frogs are other frogs! Larger frogs often consume cricket frogs during dry spells when they struggle to escape; to avoid predation these frogs can jump over 5ft in one hop.
Where to See in Virginia
This frog is a piedmont species. It is usually not found in coastal areas except along river valleys and in the sandhills, and it is very local in major valleys in the mountains. It does not occur east of the Suffolk escarpment. This frog prefers open grassy margins of ponds, ditches, and marshy areas. These frogs emerge from hibernation in late march to early April and can be found near bodies of waters as tadpoles until July at which point they will mature and be present near bodies of water until Mid-September at which point they will hibernate until next spring.
Suter. K. 2010. “Acris crepitans: Northern Cricket Frog. Animal Diversity Web. Accessed August 8/2/2023 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Acris_crepitans/
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2023. Online Conservation Guide for Acris crepitans. Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/northern-cricket-frog/. Accessed August 2, 2023.
Greene, A. 2000. Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans). University of Georgia, Savannah River Ecology Laboratory. Accessed 8/2/23 https://srelherp.uga.edu/anurans/acrcre.htm
Updated : Mara Snyder 2023
Last updated: August 15, 2023
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