How Frogs Spend The Winter? [Hibernation Guide]


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You might be amazed to know that frogs can not regulate their body temperature by producing heat inside their body like humans. Such cold-blooded animals have developed a unique adaptability to survive in the winter. So, the frog-lovers may be curious to know- how frogs spend the winter?

Being cold-blooded animals, frogs spend the winter going into hibernation. In the hibernation state, frogs reduce their metabolic rate so that these amphibians can live on less energy. Also, these ectothermic animals survive on stored fats during hibernation in winter.

In this article, I will explain frog hibernation, their adaptation and breathing process during winter, place-to-hibernate, etc. So, I urge you not to miss this article to get enlightened more about frogs’ survival in the winter.

Can Frogs Survive In Cold Weather?

Since frogs are ectothermic animals, these amphibians depend on the temperature of nature. So, it becomes difficult to regulate their body temperature in cold weather. Also, the food sources get reduced in winter.

Frogs can survive in cold weather by adapting a few survival strategies. To survive in cold weather, frogs enter into a hibernation state which is more than just a winter nap.

It is a common response for all cold-blooded animals for their survival. During this hibernation period, frogs’ bodies go through dramatic changes that help them cope with the temperature fall.

How Do Frogs Survive Winter?

You might assume a hibernating frog is a dead frog. Since frogs hibernate to survive in winter, they go through some physical and behavioral adaptations.

1. Slowing Down Metabolism

The significant change in frogs is their slower metabolism during hibernation. As these frogs slow down their metabolic rate, they stop their movement, consuming foods, drinking, and other activities.

2. Using Stored Fats

Not to mention that frogs slow down their respiratory rate, heart rate, and body temperature to survive the winter. This slowing down of regular activities helps them save up their energies without ingesting foods.

Also, frogs can not get out for hunting in cold temperatures. However, there remains a shortage of insects in winter. So, frogs utilize their stored body fats and energy slowly in this way.

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3. Breathing Through Skin: How Do Frogs Breathe When They Hibernate?

Generally, frogs can breathe through their gills, lungs, and skin. It differs from species to species. But, all frogs breathe through their skin via cutaneous respiration when they hibernate.

Almost all frogs continue to breathe the entire period of hibernation except a few frogs like the wood frog.

You might know that frogs have specially designed permeable skin. They can filter the oxygen from the water and pass it through the vessels in the skin. Further, the oxygen gets passed to the body cells of the frog body.

For this, frogs need to choose the oxygen-riched area to hibernate where their skin also remains damp. So, frogs need not be active to breathe through nostrils in cold winter.

But, if the frog’s skin becomes dry, it will fail to breathe oxygen through the skin. Moreover, frogs absorb water through the skin as they breathe during hibernation.

In addition, if you’re curious about frogs breathing, you can check our article: how long can frogs hold their breath?

4. Anti-freezing: Do Frogs Freeze In The Winter?

People might wonder why frogs do not get frozen, being ectothermic animals. Although they look frozen and dead outside, the internal body activities go on at a slower rate.

Frogs do not get frozen in the winter. A high concentration of glucose gets produced in the liver of frogs. It works as an anti-freeze protein and prevents the vital organs from freezing.

But, there is complexity too. Although the vital organs of frogs remain protected, around more than 65% of the water in frogs’ bodies will freeze.

Especially, aquatic frogs are not freeze-tolerant. So, ice forms between the muscle cells. Also, researchers found ice to be formed in the frog’s body cavity during winter.

Do Frogs Hibernate In The Winter?

Since frogs can not regulate their body temperature, it becomes hard to survive in cold weather. When the temperature falls, the activity of the frogs’ body goes into a resume state called hibernation.

So, frogs hibernate in winter when the temperature goes below freezing point. On the other hand, these frogs come out of hibernation when the temperature rises. Usually, frogs break their hibernation state in spring.

Why Are Frogs Not Seen In Winter Months?

You must be aware of the fact that frogs are cold-blooded animals. It means these amphibians depend on external sources to regulate their body temperature. When the temperature falls, frogs can not continue their regular activities.

To cope with the low temperature, frogs go into a hibernation state. So, some of these frogs remain burrowed below the frost line. Some frogs burrow under leaf litter during hibernation.

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Besides, the aquatic frogs spend the winter hibernating at the bottom of the water sources. For this reason, people do not see frogs in the winter months.

Where Do Frogs Go In The Winter?

Since frogs enter into hibernation during winter, they choose suitable places to stay over. It depends on the species and types of frogs.

1. Terrestrial Frogs Hibernating Place

Usually, the land-dwelling frogs or terrestrial frogs burrow themselves down under the frosting line of the forest. It can be around 3 feet underground. Not to mention, these frogs follow the method of burrowing themselves to hibernate in the winter.

You can also check out this article if you are curious about other reasons for frogs burrowing.

2. Aquatic Frogs Hibernating Place

Although the terrestrial frogs get burrowed in hibernation, the aquatic frogs do not hide below the mud. Since the aquatic frogs can not survive without water, these frogs hibernate at the bottom of the water body.

These frogs just lay over the mud of the bottom of the water. You may also find these aquatic frogs partially buried.

Besides, they hide below the freezing water. Such as American bullfrogs, leopard frogs, green frogs, etc tend to follow the same hibernating places.

In such a state, they can not come up to the water surface. Hence, they continue breathing through cutaneous respiration.

Several kinds of research show that the common frogs spend their hibernation in the breeding ponds. So, when spring arrives, the male hibernating frogs tend to get the first opportunity to attract the female frogs.

3. Arboreal Frogs Hibernating Place: Where Do Tree Frogs Go In The Winter?

In the case of arboreal frogs, these frogs follow different places to hibernate. For example- tree frogs hide under piles of leaves, or compost heaps during winter in a hibernation state.

Also, these frogs can spend the winter hiding or squeezing themselves into logs, crevices, cavities, spaces between rocks, and so on. In the same way, spring peeper frogs hide in winter. But, these frogs do not get burrowed since they are not so good at burrowing.

Do know want to know more details? Then, I urge you to go through this article about tree frog hibernation.

What Do You Do With Frogs In The Winter?

Whether you are frog-lovers or not, you have some specific responsibilities towards hibernating frogs. If frogs hibernate in your yard or pond, you should ensure a safe environment for them.

Let’s check out the following points about what you can do with frogs in the winter.

  • You can help the frogs provide shelter to hibernate in winter. Create a frog-friendly yard, garden, or pond for frogs in winter.
  • So, you can keep log piles, compost heaps, piles of woods, piles of leaf litter, and leaf-filled holes in your garden. The frogs that can not burrow well may take shelter in these places to hibernate.
  • Do not use pesticides on your lawn or garden in the winter.
  • If you notice any frogs hibernating in a shallow pond, you should move the frog to any nearside deep lake or pond. There remain risks of freezing in the shallow pond.
  • In case, your pond gets frozen in the low temperature of winter, you should create a hole over the ice. It will provide oxygen. Also, the hibernating frogs can come out of the bottom of the pond through the hole whenever they want.
  • Ensure that the pond plants grow well and get sunlight for photosynthesis. The plants will provide more oxygen in the pond for the hibernating frogs.
  • You must not disturb the hibernating frogs. Do not try to awake them. Also, you should reduce the noise.
See also  Frog Egg Care: Everything You Need To Know

How Do Frogs Protect Themselves From Cold And Heat?

Frogs can tolerate neither too cold nor too heat. To survive in such an unfavorable environment, frogs adapt both physically and behaviorally. 

Frogs protect themselves from heat by aestivation. In the same way, these cold-blooded animals hibernate to protect themselves from the cold.

Aestivation is pretty suchlike as hibernation. You might hear about naming hibernation as the winter sleep of frogs. On the other hand, aestivation is samely termed as summer-sleep of frogs.

As similar as hibernation, aestivation lets frogs slow down their metabolism, heart rate, respiration rate, etc. To escape the heat, frogs survive on the stored fats that provide them the required energy.

Thus, they need not go out hunting insects in hot weather.

Generally, frogs tend to burrow themselves underneath sand or mud. Besides, these amphibians choose holes in logs, leaf litter, cracks, woodpiles, and other places for aestivation.

During hibernation, these similar locations become shelters for hibernating frogs.

Also, some of these frogs create cocoons when they go into aestivation. These protect frogs from dehydration by keeping their skin moist.

In that way, frogs protect their skin from getting dry in hot weather. But, frogs do not create such cocoons in their hibernation. To avoid being frozen, frogs depend on their high-concentrated glucose as natural anti-freeze proteins.

Final Words

Frogs are surely amazing creatures with exceptional adaptability. I hope this article quenched your thirst for curiosity about how frogs spend winter. We all should give some extra effort to make their hibernation period easier and smoother.

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About Muntaseer Rahman

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