19 March 2010

I see the snails but where are the frogs?

Since about the beginning of this week when the weather suddenly warmed up frogs have been broadcasting their loud cacophonies. A certain species lives in a flooded area near a creek not too far from my house. I have recorded their calls and got a possible identification: spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer). For confirmation, I figured I needed their pictures. So late this afternoon I took my camera, put on my rubber boots and entered the swamp.

Frogs were everywhere; I knew that because they were deafening me with their calls. For about 40 minutes I searched for them to no avail; not one made itself visible to me. They are supposed to be small, only about 2 to 3 cm long. So I was looking very carefully. But instead of tiny frogs, I kept picking up even tinier snails from among the plant litter in the water. First, there was this succineid, probably a juvenile Oxyloma retusum, a land snail of wet places. Compare it to the size of my thumb.

Then there was this aquatic species. Let my finger be a scale for its length.

It didn't have an operculum. So it was a pulmonate, possibly a Fossaria species. It was actually hard to see it when it was crawling on the debris matching the color of its shell.

All the while the frogs kept up with their shrill. But my eyes, obviously programmed to see snails, could not see them.

I will continue my quest tomorrow afternoon.


John said...

I don't think I've ever gotten a good look at a spring peeper.

Joel VanDerMeulen said...


The same thing happened to me while looking for wood frogs in a pond near my house. You can hear them everywhere but yet you can never seem to find them. It seems like I only find frogs whenever I'm not looking for them, so perhaps that could work for you?

P.S. Sorry for not commenting very much recently :)

Frank Anderson said...

Good luck with that. Usually when I get anywhere near them, they clam up.

And if they're peeping, they're spring peepers. They're hard to confuse with anything else, unless the East Coast has some similar-sounding species I've never heard of. We've had four species letting it rip here in the southern Midwest -- peepers, American toads, southern leopard frogs and either upland or midland chorus frogs. Very cool.

fred schueler said...

It's a rite of passage for north American naturalists -- go out at night with a light, and see your first Peeper, under cover of grass or leaves, unless it's a warm night when the breeding is really hot and heavy, in which case they'll be out on the floating mats of vegetation in the swamp. They're impossible to see during the day, if only because they shut up when they see you coming.