New York Natural Heritage Program
Northern Cricket Frog
Acris crepitans Baird, 1854
Amphibians

General Description [-]
The Northern Cricket Frog is one of the smallest vertebrates in New York (~1"). They have small dorsal warts, a light belly, and a dark triangle pointing backward between the eyes. Most specimens have a brownish-greenish background color, but there is wide variation from subtle browns or grays to stripes of brilliant reds or greens. The male's throat patch is yellow during the breeding season.

Identifying Characteristics [-]
Females can produce 200-400 eggs, but they are rarely seen because they are attached to vegetation and laid singly or in small clusters below the water surface. The tadpoles, which can be identified by a black tip on the tail, emerge from the eggs within a few days, and are generally bottom feeders. The call starts out as a slow "click, click, click" that is repeated more rapidly for a half minute or so, resembling an insect chorus, giving the frog its common name. The sound can be imitated by tapping two pebbles together (Gibbs et al. 2007)

Characters Most Useful for Identification [-]
Tiny size (approx. 1"), dorsal warts, dark triangular-shaped spot behind eyes, a ragged, longitudinal stripe on the thigh, and extensive toe webbing.

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification [-]
Adult.

Behavior [-]
Males call from plants rooted in the floating mats, or from the surface of the water. Intense competitive interactions often occur between calling males. Although it is considered a treefrog, this species is a poor climber and is usually found within a few inches of the ground. Cricket frogs employ a unique overwintering mechanism by burrowing into preexisting shallow cracks or crayfish burrows in a band of moist soil near the edge of ponds and streams (Irwin 2005), possibly communally. It has also been suggested that they may overwinter terrestrially in forested uplands beyond 150 meters (Hecht et al. 2000), and possibly up to 450 meters (A. Breisch, personnal communication) from breeding ponds. When approached by a potential predator, cricket frogs make several quick zigzag leaps, diving beneath the water.

Diet [-]
Larvae feed on periphyton and phytoplankton. Adults are opportunistic feeders both day and night, eating various small invertebrates obtained in or near the water. Food items include insects, spiders, annelids, mollusks, and crustaceans (Gray et al. 2005)
Northern Cricket Frog Images
click to enlarge
The Best Time to See
The frogs emerge from hibernation in late March or early April and begin to forage for terrestrial arthropods. Chorusing finally begins in mid-May and lasts until mid-July and the strongest choruses are heard on warm, humid nights. These are the last frogs to breed in New York. The eggs hatch in a few days, and larvae metamorphose before mid-September when they are barely 1/2" long. Metamorphs and adults move toward overwintering sites during late September through October (Gibbs et al. 2007).
J F M A M J J A S O N D
Present Active Reproducing Larvae present and active
The time of year you would expect to find Northern Cricket Frog present (red shading), active (blue shading), reproducing (green shading) and larvae present and active (orange shading) in New York.
Similar Species
  • Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata)
    The range of these two species does not currently overlap in New York, and P. triseriata has three, often broken, dark brown longitudinal stripes on the dorsal surface.
  • Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer)
    Spring peepers breed much earlier in the season and have a distinctly different call from that of A. crepitans. The dorsal surface of a peeper has a well-defined "X" pattern and no warts.