When the weather outside starts to turn cold you may not be the only one looking for a warm place to stay. Amphibians like frogs and toads go into a type of hibernation called brumation. This is different from the true hibernation of mammals like bears because amphibians don’t lower their body temperature or heart rate as much. Instead they burrow into the ground or find a safe place to sit out the cold months.
In some cases the cold can actually kill amphibians. For example the wood Frog (Rana sylvatica) can survive being frozen solid for weeks at a time. When the weather gets cold the frog’s body produces a type of glucose that acts like antifreeze helping to prevent ice crystals from forming and damaging its cells. When spring arrives and the temperatures start to warm up the wood Frog thaws out and goes about its business.
Other frogs and toads don’t fare as well in the cold. The Common Frog (Rana temporaria) and the Common Toad (Bufo bufo) typically spend the winter buried underground where it’s warmer. They may even spend the winter in a state of partial hibernation coming out only occasionally to feed.
If you live in an area where it gets cold in the winter you may be able to help your local amphibians make it through the season by creating a frog or toad abode in your yard. This can be as simple as placing a few upturned flowerpots or pieces of wood in a shady moist area of your yard. You can also buy or build special frog houses designed to offer shelter from the cold. Whatever you do make sure the abode you create is open at the top as amphibians need to be able to breath while they’re hibernating.
When the temperatures start to drop in the fall keep an eye out for frogs and toads trying to sneak into your home to escape the cold. You can help these wayward amphibians by catching them and releasing them outside in your frog abode. Just make sure you wash your hands afterwards as some frogs and toads can carry diseases that are harmful to humans.
How do tree frogs survive the winter?
Some tree frogs spend the winter frozen solid in ponds while others burrow into the ground and enter a state of dormancy.
What happens to a tree frog’s body when it freezes?
A tree frog’s body produces a natural antifreeze that prevents its cells from being damaged by the cold.
Do all tree frogs spend the winter frozen?
No some tree frogs enter a state of dormancy instead.
How do tree frogs that enter dormancy survive the winter?
They burrow into the ground and slow their metabolism way down.
How long can tree frogs stay frozen?
They can stay frozen for several months at a time.
What happens when a tree frog thaws out?
It secretes a glycoprotein from its skin that helps it absorb water and rehydrate itself.
How does freezing help tree frogs survive the winter?
Freezing prevents tree frogs from losing water through evaporation and keeps them from being eaten by predators.
What are some of the predators that tree frogs have to worry about?
Snakes birds and rodents are all common predators of tree frogs.
How does dormancy help tree frogs survive the winter?
Dormancy helps tree frogs conserve energy and avoid predators.
How long can tree frogs stay in dormancy?
They can stay in dormancy for several months.
What do tree frogs eat?
Tree frogs are insectivores and primarily eat insects.
What is the natural antifreeze that tree frogs produce?
It is a glycoprotein called glucose oxidase.
How does glucose oxidase help tree frogs survive the winter?
It prevents the tree frog’s cells from being damaged by the cold.
Do all tree frogs produce glucose oxidase?
No only those that enter dormancy produce it.
What is the difference between dormancy and hibernation?
Dormancy is a state of reduced activity and metabolism while hibernation is a state of complete inactivity.