How Long Can Frogs Hold Their Breath?

We all must have played the game where we compete to hold our breath underwater for the longest time in our childhood. You will be surprised to hear that frogs have the outstanding capability of holding their breath for a long time. So, this curiosity may pop up in your mind- how long can frogs hold their breath?

Frogs can hold their breath for around 4-7 hours by regulating their metabolic activities. In the tadpole stage of frogs, they can live underwater breathing through gills. But, fully developed aquatic frogs can breathe underwater through their skin.

In this article, I will explain the process of frogs breathing underwater, how long they can survive without oxygen, etc. So, you must not miss this article if you want to get enlightened about such a fascinating topic.

Can Frogs Stay Underwater Forever?

The quick answer to this question is a bit complex. Such is because the answers are both yes and no.

Fully-aquatic frogs can stay underwater forever. But, generally, terrestrial and arboreal frogs can stay underwater as long as they can hold their breath. These frogs can not stay underwater forever.

When frogs inhale water into their lungs, they are bound to drown underwater. The amount of time to hold breath varies from species to species.

Can Frogs Breathe Underwater?

Several species of frogs can breathe underwater. On the other hand, some species of frogs can not do this. So, it depends on which frog species you’re talking about.

On the contrary, all frogs can breathe underwater in the primary stage of their lives. Also, frogs can stay underwater for a long period in their hibernation state. Let’s go through the details of how these frogs can breathe underwater.

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Breathing Through Gills

Being gill-breathers, tadpoles breathe through gills underwater. After around 3-4 days, the laid eggs of frogs become tadpoles. At this primary stage of life, tadpoles of all species have gills.

During swimming, tadpoles gulp down water that gets transferred into the gills. Then, the oxygen from the water goes through the bloodstream through diffusion with the help of gills.

But, most tadpoles have lungs too. Hence, you might have seen tadpoles come to the water surface to breathe air.

On the other hand, some aquatic frogs do not lose gills. But, some of them do not have gills. They breathe air by coming up to the surface as they have lungs.

Such as African dwarf frogs, African clawed frogs, etc. Also, such frogs breathe through their skin underwater.

Breathing Through Cutaneous Respiration 

Like many amphibians, frogs can breathe through their skin which is called cutaneous respiration. Since frogs lose their gills while growing up, it becomes impossible to breathe underwater without gills.

Still, these amphibians manage to stay around 4-7 hours underwater. That is possible because of their thin skin. In this respiration process, frogs can diffuse oxygen through the blood vessels under their skin.

So, the frog skin helps them breathe underwater via cutaneous respiration.

How Long Does It Take For A Frog To Suffocate?

Due to lacking oxygen, frogs can also suffocate. It can take around 30 to 45 minutes for a frog to get suffocated.

Can Frogs Drown?

The short answer to this question is yes!

Since terrestrial and arboreal frogs do not have gills, these frogs can not breathe underwater. So, such frogs can drown if they are submerged in water for a long time. On the other hand, fully aquatic frogs also can drown due to poor water conditions.

Aquatic frogs can not survive without an optimal range of oxygen. Also, these frogs can not breathe underwater if there are pesticides, wastage, and other harmful chemicals. So, a low level of oxygen can lead to the suffocation of aquatic frogs.

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As a result, frogs can drown. There are examples of Siberian Wood frogs drowning underwater after 97 days in a low oxygen area.

Do Frogs Breathe During Hibernation?

Hibernation doesn’t stop frogs to breathe. Even if the frogs develop lungs, these frogs breathe through the skin during hibernation.

For this, their skin needs to remain moist. But, the insufficiency of oxygen may risk the survival of hibernating frogs. So, the oxygen level of the water should be high to help frogs continue cutaneous respiration.

Can Frogs Survive Without Oxygen?

Like other animals, frogs can not survive without oxygen. Several kinds of research prove that frogs can live long for 5-7 days without oxygen. Depending on the physical status of the frog, the survival period depends according to the level of oxygen.

How Long Can Frogs Survive Without Oxygen?

No animals can survive without oxygen. But, frogs can survive without oxygen for a certain period by slowing down their metabolic activities. If the oxygen level is 0.1-0.2 mg/L at 2-3 degrees Celsius, frogs can last up to 3 months in such an environment.

Do Frogs Hold Their Breath Underwater?

No matter whether the frogs are terrestrial or aquatic, all frogs spend a part of their lives underwater. But, certain species of frogs tend to live their life on land or trees when they become adults.

Several studies show that frogs can hold their breath underwater for almost 4-7 hours. Frogs are pretty unique due to their adaptability to hold their breath in different stages of their lives and the adverse environment.

Among all species of frogs, African clawed frogs and Western clawed frogs can hold their breath for the longest period.

How Long Can Frogs Stay Underwater?

It depends on the species of frogs and the dissolved oxygen level in the water. The water quality, water temperature, and the skin of frogs are also significant parameters for this.

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Typically, the frogs can hold their breath for 4-7 hours underwater. On the other hand, aquatic and semi-aquatic frogs spend their complete life underwater.

Although the adult frogs can breathe through their lungs, they can switch to cutaneous respiration while staying underwater. But, the tadpoles of frogs can easily thrive underwater for months.

On the other hand, the fully aquatic frogs also do not have the gills to breathe, though they can not survive on the land. Such frogs like African dwarf frogs and African clawed frogs need to come up to the water surface to breathe oxygen from the air.

Hence, these frogs come up to the air from underwater every 15-20 minutes. For details, you can check this article about African dwarf frogs coming up for air.

But, these aquatic frogs can spend their entire life underwater due to having thinner membranes on their skin.

Such frogs are Green frogs, African Clawed frogs, Common frogs, American Bullfrogs, African Dwarf frogs, and so on. Compared with terrestrial frogs, these aquatic frogs can last a long time underwater.

How Long Can African Dwarf Frogs Hold Their Breath?

Although African Dwarf frogs are fully aquatic, these frogs require to come up to the surface to breathe oxygen. People often wonder how long these fully aquatic frogs can hold their breath underwater despite having no gills.

Several kinds of research show that frogs can survive underwater by holding their breath for around 4-7 hours. But, the breathing activity of African dwarf frogs is different from other frogs. These fully aquatic frogs can hold their breath underwater for up to 15 minutes.

African dwarf frogs can stay submerged underwater for 15-20 minutes without taking oxygen. Within 15 minutes, these dwarf frogs need to come up to the water’s surface to breathe oxygen from the air.

Final Words

I hope this article helped you get enlightened more about frogs’ way of breathing. The unique adaptability of frogs makes them last longer by holding their breath for a long period.

Muntaseer Rahman

About Author

Hello, I’m Muntaseer Rahman, the owner of I’m passionate about aquarium pets like shrimps, snails, crabs, and crayfish. I’ve created this website to share my expertise and help you provide better care for these amazing pets.


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