Where Do Frogs Go In the Winter?

  • By: CarlBroadbent
  • Time to read: 4 min.
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Where do frogs go in the winter? Or, conversely, when it becomes too hot?

Frogs will hibernate underground or underwater. With their small bodies and thin skin, frogs may seem deceptively fragile. As a matter of fact, they are great survivors. Frogs can be found all over the world, in temperature extremes of both hot and cold. 

You may also be wondering how you can help your backyard frogs survive.

Fortunately, just a few simple steps can be very helpful.

All that you need to do is make sure your pond frogs have places to hibernate – we’ll cover this below!

Their Favorite Spots

Frogs and toads are cold-blooded, which means that they take on the temperature of their environment.

Frogs can survive winter in garden pond
Frogs will survive winter in garden pond

In the winter, to survive, frogs will often hibernate. To accomplish this, they will find deep places in the bottom of ponds.

Sometimes, they will be unconscious (but alive and well). Others will maintain some sort of consciousness, and will slowly swim back and forth along the bottom until warm weather!

How Does Hibernation Work?

Well, the real danger is ice crystals, which can puncture organs and interfere in general.

Usually, frogs avoid such extreme cold – even as they sometimes survive being frozen solid. 

Frogs that live on land will hibernate in little burrows and cavities, which are called hibernacula.

While frogs hibernate, their metabolism slows considerably. At this time, frogs are in a state of deep sleep.

How to Help Your Pond Frogs Survive the Winter
Frogs survive winter

Hibernacula are made below the frost line, and keep frogs a bit warmer until the end of winter!

So, there are aquatic frogs and terrestrial frogs, and both survive in their own unique way – let’s take a look!

Aquatic Frogs

The leopard frog and the aquatic bullfrog are two aquatic frogs.

As touched on above, they dive deep into the water to survive the winter. One common misconception is that aquatic frogs dig into the mud.

Actually, this would cut off their oxygen supply. A necessity for proper hibernation is oxygen-rich water.

Turtles are alright burrowing into the mud, but frogs must be above the surface of the mud.


How They Do It? They are even known to slowly swim about in deep, cold water in order to get sufficient oxygen for survival.


Terrestrial Frogs

American toads are a common type of terrestrial frog, which means they live on land rather than water.

Some of these dig themselves safely under the frost line (as touched on above). The spring peeper and wood frog, on the other hand, are not adept diggers.

Instead, they find crevices in logs, rocks, etc. in which to hide from the worst of the cold.

Terrestrial Frogs
American toad frog

Still, many of these less-sheltered frogs will freeze – and survive it.

How?

These frogs have a high concentration of glucose in their organs, and this will keep them from truly freezing.

On the outside, the frog will have stopped breathing and moving and may appear dead.

This will last until their hibernacula become warmer than freezing.

Then, the frogs will thaw, and their lungs and heart will resume activity. 

How to Help Your Pond Frogs Survive the Winter

If you have frogs in your backyard pond, you may be concerned about their survival this winter.

It’s true, sometimes these frogs’ lives are at risk in cold weather.

How to Make Your Pond Frog-Friendly
Frog-friendly pond

Fortunately, there are ways that you can increase their chances of survival. 

How?

First off, don’t clean out your pond. The frogs will depend on the debris to find places to hibernate.

Next, you can leave out piles of compost near the pond.

This gives them a safe place to dig into and is a great way to provide shelter.

Leaf litter can also work!


Generally: Making sure that your pond (and around the pond) have areas for them to shelter is key. Without this, your pond frogs could potentially freeze, so it’s very important. 


Estivation (What Frogs Do In Hot Weather)

Estivation is quite similar to hibernation and involves a similar slowing of the metabolism.

The difference is, this is something frogs do during hot weather, or to survive a drought.

Adult pond frog
Adult green frog

How do frogs estivate?

Only some frogs undergo this process, but they will shed layers of skin to create a sort of cacoon.

Only their nostrils will be left uncovered, so they can breathe.

These frogs will stay in this for months, even a year or more until the heatwave and drought are over!

Final Thoughts

So, if you were wondering, ‘where do frogs go in the winter?’ you have your answer.

Frogs will hibernate, either in the water or soil. This depends on whether they are aquatic or terrestrial frogs.

Some frogs will also undergo a similar hibernation process during hot weather!

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