With spring fast approaching throughout the northern hemisphere I thought it would be fun to review one of the season’s most famous harbingers, the spring peeper (Pseudacris crucifer). Of course, the species is only famous if you happen to live within its range, which happens to be the eastern portion of North America, from eastern and central Canada, south to eastern Texas and every state east of the Mississippi. Within much of that range the spring peeper is one of the first amphibians to emerge from hibernation, usually in March, often while snow is still on the ground. In the southern portion of their range they’ll often breed in the Fall and Winter as well, making its common name meaningless.
This spring peeper is by Wild Republic, a part of their FrogWatch USA line. Like their Audubon Birds these plushes make the calls of their respective species when squeezed. All of the frogs represent North American species. Unfortunately, the line appears to be discontinued, as the frogs are not on the Wild Republic web site and searches for them on Amazon and elsewhere don’t yield any results.
I began collecting these frogs many years ago, at first buying them for my young nephew and then collecting for my own child. I have 8 of these frogs in total and you can expect reviews of them all, in due course. Most of the frogs produced by Wild Republic represent species you won’t find produced by other companies.
The toy measures about 6” (15.24 cm), not including the legs. This is substantially larger than the actual frog which only maxes out at about 1.5” (38 mm). Spring peepers belong to the chorus frog genus, Pseudacris, in the Hylidae family.
The plush frog is tan in color, with a cream color stripe running around the snout and down the sides towards the hind limbs. A thin dark stripe runs from the eye, down the head, and along the torso, just above the cream stripe. Some black stripes are present on the legs as well. There is also a black X on the back, a feature that give the spring peeper its scientific species name, crucifer, Latin for cross bearer. The plastic eyes are orange with black pupils, looking much like actual spring peeper eyes. The toy is missing a couple toes on each hindlimb but those that are there have toe pads, which peepers use in climbing.
When pressed the frog emits 6 loud “peeps”, recordings of actual spring peeper calls. Like the Audubon birds there’s no way to change out the batteries on these frogs once they’re spent. I’ve had some of these toys last years, and others last mere weeks. This spring peeper has been holding strong for roughly 7 years now. There might be a way to change the batteries, but I would have to open the plush up to find out. It could be that the sound box within does not even have a compartment to open.
The call of the spring peeper is virtually unavoidable in the spring across a giant swath of the continent, yet few people have seen a spring peeper or even know what makes the call. This disconnect between humans and nature is distressing. Toys like these help bridge the gap between humans and their local wildlife. They aid in instilling an appreciation for wildlife in children at a young age, putting a cute face on the song you hear outside your bedroom window. That these frogs are no longer in production is truly sad and hopefully some day another company will represent them. In the meantime, if you want one of these, it’s off to eBay.