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Asheville Natural is a guide to the native wildflowers of the southern Appalachians, with additional information for plant sources, hiking trails in the Asheville North Carolina area, and a few well-chosen links to other sites with Asheville information, wildflower sources, hiking,trail and outfitter information, and botanical resources. This is a non-profit site, created and maintained with love. All information contained on this site is based upon personal observation, and all photos are our own.


See also: Moths , 17-Year Cicadas, and Insects

Surprise Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) in Fall 2008

Meet Zaphod

Meet Prak

Spring Peeper from underneath Spring Peeper from underneath

Whether they are male or female is impossible for "me" to tell!

September 15 and October 12, 2008

I took these pictures of Spring Peeper frogs (Pseudacris crucifer, in the Family Hylidae, Tree Frogs) when they unexpectedly appeared in my mother's garden during the fall. For several days she saw peepers perched on planting pots, the rim of a garden bucket, and one morning, staring in at her from the other side of a glass door. We don't know why all of a sudden they would appear in such exposed places, especially at this time of year. My own theory, and it is a theory, is that they started to come out after we got some rain following a serious drought of a summer. Now that we finally got some rain, they might be coming out of their woodland habitat to 'rehydrate' in pools of water, and go hunting to fatten up a bit. According to information I found on other websites, Spring Peepers remain active at least three seasons - and might not go into full hibernation in winter at all. If the temperature is only a few degrees above freezing, they can remain active. During the non-breeding season (when their calls around small bodies of water are unmistakable), they live in the leaf litter and loam of a rich forest floor where they can find their prey - small crawling insects, worms, spiders and arthropods. Apparently they can withstand a great deal of dehydration - up to about 30%.

My spring Peeper Terrarium

When mom and I first trapped this peeper (Zaphod) in September, I immediately created a terrarium environment for it. I didn't intend to keep it long, but wanted it to have a friendly home to give me some time to take photos. Here is a picture of the temporary home, built up out of woodland leaf litter, moss, river rocks and gravel, and distilled water. I didn't want to inadvertently poison it with anything that might be in my well water.

As soon as I had the temporary home built, I went out hunting for some food. Since Peepers prefer crawing bugs, I had to dig around under logs, rocks and leaf litter for very small spiders, arthropods, tiny ants, non-flying insects, and worms. It wasn't hard, but definitely time-consuming. I hope it did find something to eat - a frog plop the next day gave me a hopeful sign that 'something' had filled up its gut.

(below - Zaphod)

Pseudacris crucifer

Pseudacris crucifer from top view showing cross on the back

Spring Peeper looking cute


Photographing this little chorus frog was hard, because the terrarium glass was thick - causing distortion, fuzziness, and light reflection. I spent hours trying to get it right! So apologies for the poor quality of the photos, but they were the best I could do

Then, Along Came Prak in Early October

This time I kept it for about a week, which gave me enough time to try some different photography techniques (with much better results.) I fed it some natural selections from outdoors as well as trying out the crickets and mealworms you can buy at large pet shops. Prak didn't seem to care for the mealworms at all - but the few crickets I put in the terarrium disappeared. Prak also ate a few small moths I tossed in there.

Closeup of Prak the Spring Peeper

Prak the Spring Peeper resting on a small stick

Prak the frog resting comfortably

Prak's favorite spot

Prak is anxious to go home


In the long run, I count myself lucky to have shared some time with this commonly heard but seldom seen little creatures.

The best website I found for reference information is this one from AmphibiaWeb.org here:

Many people keep frogs as pets. They are usually true tree frogs that are either native, bred, or imported from other countries. Please avoid imported frogs - they were likely illegally harvested, don't survive well, may carry diseases, and for every frog that makes it here hundreds have died in the process

However, if you find a reliable source of a healthy, bred frog they can live for a couple of years if well cared for. Be prepared to deal with bugs! Some frogs prefer flying insects, some prefer the crawing kind. You can obtain crickets, bloodworms and essential vitamin supplements from commercial suppliers to feed your frogs. This usually involves breeding the bugs and feeding them too. It can be done, but frogs are not throwaway pets - they need a proper and clean environment and the right food.



A note on the nomenclature (naming conventions) on this site: Scientific names and classifications are constantly being argued and changed, and it drives me nuts. Although I use many different sources for knowledge, for naming consistency  I  use the  "Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas" by Radford, Ahles and Bell, 1968 edition. This book is a well-established authority for the plants of our region and I've been using it for years. If for some reason I must use a different source for a particular plant, I will make note of it within the descriptive text. Don't like it? Tough!

Fiona Dudley
113 Pristine Lane
Weaverville NC 28787


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