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Aquatic Frogs Hibernating in Ponds

1-9-15  green frog IMG_0181Most aquatic frogs such as this Green Frog have been deep in hibernation for several months. A common misconception is that frogs spend the winter the way aquatic turtles do, dug into the mud at the bottom of a pond or stream. In fact, hibernating frogs would suffocate if they dug into the mud for an extended period of time. A hibernating turtle’s metabolism slows down so drastically that it can get by on the mud’s meager oxygen supply. Hibernating aquatic frogs, however, must be near oxygen-rich water and spend a good portion of the winter just lying on top of the mud or only partially buried. They may even slowly swim around from time to time.

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17 responses

  1. Connie Snyder

    How do they “lie on top of the pond” when the water is frozen solid? Are they just beneath the surface?

    January 15, 2015 at 7:55 am

    • They lie on top of the mud, not the pond!

      January 15, 2015 at 8:21 am

      • Connie Snyder

        Ah, yes! I see I did not read carefully enough. Thanks!

        January 15, 2015 at 10:19 am

  2. So… do they take in oxygen through their skin as they hang out way down there at the bottom of a pond? And do they survive with no food for all these months?

    January 15, 2015 at 8:10 am

    • Exactly, they take in oxygen through their skin, and as I understand it, their metabolism is so low that they don’t need to eat.

      January 15, 2015 at 8:22 am

  3. Alice Darlington

    Boy, I would think they’d be hugely subject to predation if they spend the winter on or close to the surface. I have never seen any but will look.

    January 15, 2015 at 8:24 am

    • They’re occasionally on top of the mud, not the pond!

      January 15, 2015 at 4:04 pm

  4. Libby

    So I gather it’s just a metabolic slow-down? The frogs are in deep enough water that it does not freeze? Or is there ever an anti-freeze component used in their tissues?

    January 15, 2015 at 9:39 am

    • I believe aquatic frogs just stay where it doesn’t freeze (39 degrees F. at the bottom of most ponds), but terrestrial frogs produce glucose in their organs to prevent freezing, or to prevent damage from freezing (a wood frog can have up to 60% of its body frozen for two to three months and still thaw out and be perfectly fine when it warms up!)

      January 15, 2015 at 4:07 pm

  5. Cordelia Merritt

    Hi Mary 1)How in the heck did you get that picture? 2)Was the helpful hinge hanger my neighbor Kent Kurchak? See you Cordie

    January 15, 2015 at 9:58 am

    • The frog was just very cooperative, Cordie, and the hinge hanger is Jaxon Morgan, but when the next thing breaks, poor Kent is going to get a call from me!

      January 15, 2015 at 4:08 pm

  6. I love learning new things from you – thanks, Mary!

    January 15, 2015 at 11:49 am

  7. Cecelia Blair

    In answer to the question of who owns the water (a very big question out west), the Native Americans say that it is the frogs who do.

    This picture is inspirational, Mary. Power to the frogs!

    January 15, 2015 at 12:09 pm

  8. Dean and Susan Greenberg

    Amazing photo of the green frog!

    January 15, 2015 at 12:09 pm

  9. Nina Toutant

    That’s a darn cute frog. Thanks for you blog. My family loves it. Nina Toutant

    Sent from my iPad


    January 15, 2015 at 2:25 pm

  10. joan waltermire

    I remember Tom Tyning saying that frogs (of course I can’t remember which one or ones) often hibernate in flowing water for the very reason you cite. I think he said they are often at a pond inlet or outlet for that reason.

    January 16, 2015 at 4:52 pm

    • Very interesting, and it makes a lot of sense!

      January 16, 2015 at 5:34 pm

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