Southern Cricket Frog (Acris gryllus)

Southern Cricket Frog (Acris gryllus)

Photos by J.D. Willson unless otherwise noted

Description: Southern 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. Southern (A. gryllus) and Northern (A. crepitans) Cricket Frogs are very similar in appearance and are best distinguished by call or range (Southern Cricket Frogs in the Coastal Plain, Northern Cricket Frogs are generally found in the Piedmont and Mountains). Both species have a dark stripe on the thighs. In A. gryllus this stripe has straight edges and is bordered by a light stripe, while in A. crepitans it generally has jagged edges.

Range and Habitat: Southern cricket frogs are most common in the Coastal Plain and are generally replaced by the Northern Cricket Frog (A. crepitans) in the Piedmont and Mountainous regions of the Southeast. 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 Southern Cricket Frog resembles the sound of marbles clicking together and is much slower than the similar Northern Cricket Frog (A. crepitans). 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