Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans)

Northern Cricket Frog (Acris crepitans)

Photos by J.D. Willson unless otherwise noted

Description: Northern cricket frogs are small, warty frogs ranging in size from 1.6 to 3.5 cm SVL with variable coloring and patterns. They have fairly long hind limbs but do not have toe pads. Although they may be various shades of gray, brown, or green, many have a brown to orange stripe down the center of their back and a triangular marking on the top of their head. Northern (A. crepitans) and Southern (A. gryllus) Cricket Frogs are very similar in appearance and are best distinguished by call or range (Northern Cricket Frogs are generally found in the Piedmont and Mountains, Southern Cricket Frogs in the Coastal Plain). Both species have a dark stripe on the thighs. In A. crepitans this stripe generally has jagged edges, while in A. gryllus it has straight edges and is bordered by a light stripe.

Range and Habitat: Northern cricket frogs are most common in the Piedmont and Mountainous regions of the Southeast and are generally replaced by the Southern Cricket Frog (A. gryllus) in the Coastal Plain. Although found in almost any moist habitat, cricket frogs are most common along edges of permanent ponds, lakes, and slow-moving streams. They prefer open, shallow water with plenty of vegetation. They do not climb well and are not found high in trees.

Habits: The call of the Northern Cricket Frog resembles the sound of marbles clicking together and is more rapid than the similar Southern Cricket Frog (A. gryllus). Both species breed in the spring and summer and feed on small insects. Males aggressively defend territory, especially during the breeding season. Calling males will often attack other males calling in their vicinity, particularly late in the season when opportunities to mate are more scarce.

Conservation status: Both Cricket Frogs are common in our region but A. crepitans is declining in areas of the Midwest.

Account Author: Aaliyah Greene, University of Georgia – revised by J.D. Willson