This rough-skinned treefrog may be greenish brown, yellow, red or black. It has a dark triangular patch between the eyes and relatively short legs. The maximum size of the adult is under 4 centimetres. The breeding call is a rasping or clicking sound, like two pebbles or stones being struck together. Listen to the call of the northern cricket frog(Acris crepitans) (courtesy of Adopt-A-Pond Wetland Conservation Programme).
Other treefrogs in the northern cricket frog’s range are the spring peeper, the western chorus frog and the gray treefrog. The spring peeper has a dark X-shaped blotch on the back. The western chorus frog has three dark continuous or broken lines down the back. The gray treefrog has a light spot with a dark border under each eye and bright orange or yellow inner thighs. The cricket frog appears to have “warts” like a toad but lacks the large parotoid glands that toads have behind each eye. The clicking call of the northern cricket frog may be difficult to distinguish from that of some marsh birds.
Northern cricket frogs are usually found along the edges of permanent ponds but have also been known to occur in natural marshes, deep drainage ditches and abandoned quarries. Though classed as a treefrog, the northern cricket frog is not known to climb into trees or bushes.
The northern cricket frog does not begin to breed until midsummer. Individual females lay up to 400 eggs, which hatch in three to four days. Eggs and tadpoles develop in the shallow water of ponds, marshes, ditches, slow streams, springs or rain pools. Tadpoles metamorphose into adults five to 10 weeks after hatching, typically from August to early September.
The tadpoles of this species eat suspended matter, organic debris, algae and plant tissue. Adult cricket frogs eat small insects and other terrestrial invertebrates. Individuals rarely live more than one or two years. These frogs overwinter in leaf litter or just under the soil surface and may hibernate communally.
Threats and Trends
The cause of the decline of the northern cricket frog during the 1970s is unknown, but habitat loss and degradation, as well as pesticide contamination, are known to be problems within its range.
Current Status and Protection
The northern cricket frog is currently listed as Extirpated under the Ontario Endangered Species Act, 2007 and Endangered under the federal Species at Risk Act. The species has also been designated as a a Specially Protected Amphibian under the Ontario Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act. These acts offer protection to individuals and their habitat. The habitat of this species is further protected in Ontario by the Provincial Policy Statement under the Planning Act. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the global status of the northern cricket frog as Least Concern. The species’ status was last confirmed in January 2010. Additional detail about legal protection for species at risk in Ontario is available on our Legal Protection page.
Learn more about reptile and amphibian conservation and what you can do to help these species on our Reptile and Amphibian Stewardship page