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Green Frogs About To Take The Plunge

11-9-15 A. bullfrog 005Most Green Frogs have disappeared over the last few weeks, but this male (eardrum, or tympanum, is larger than his eye) was basking in the last bit of sunshine he will see or feel for the next five or six months. Soon he will take the plunge and bury himself in leaf litter at the bottom of the pond or lay, partially exposed, on the mud beneath the leaves. (Green frogs typically hibernate in water, but occasionally overwinter on unfrozen stream beds or seeps, as well as underground.) Aquatic turtles can shut down their metabolism to a greater extent than frogs, so they are able to survive hibernation buried in mud, where there is little oxygen, but frogs overwintering in a pond must have their skin at least partially in contact with oxygen-rich water. Green frog tadpoles will typically, but not always, overwinter prior to metamorphosing the following spring.

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5 responses

  1. A curious thing I noted about them when they hibernate is that their skin turns dark brown, almost black. Is this due to less oxygen?

    November 9, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    • Hi Eliza,
      I don’t know! How did you happen to come upon a hibernating green frog?!

      November 10, 2015 at 7:41 am

      • I have a small 4×5 pond in my front yard that is too shallow for hibernating frogs (the first winter they all died, in spring the stench was horrific), so every fall I must clean it out and take the frogs (and sometimes salamanders) to a muddy spot in the river. Some frogs have already settled into torpor and are quite dark. I hate to disturb them, but it is better than dying!

        November 10, 2015 at 12:26 pm

  2. Emma McGivney Woltner

    I saw a orange brown frog in the leaf litter along the side of the road this fall. It was quite cold that day. Would that frog bury himself in the mud in the ditch, below the leaf litter.? would the frog survive a typical Adirondack winter?

    December 14, 2015 at 11:59 am

    • A lot depends on the species of frog. Some overwinter in leaf litter, others at the bottom of ponds. If it hadn’t hit freezing yet, then it hopefully still had the energy to dig itself into a protected spot. Peepers, gray treefrogs and wood frogs can even survive freezing – so much depends on the species of frog that you saw.

      December 14, 2015 at 1:00 pm

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