What Happens to Frogs in the Winter?

happens-frogs-winter Credit: Svein Nordrum/Moment/Getty Images

During winter months, some frogs survive the harsh climate change by going into hibernation. Alternatively, some frogs adapt to the changes in the environment by using estivation.

These amphibians have many different ways to survive harsh climates. One of these survival methods is hibernation, which involves seeking prolonged shelter during the winter months to survive the changes in temperature. Aquatic frogs tend to hibernate underwater. Hibernating aquatic frogs must be near oxygen-rich water to breathe during the hibernation period. They may burrow, either fully or partially, into the mud nearby. For frogs who live on land, some dig deep into the soil and settle below the frost line, while others who are not prone to digging look for cracks and holes in logs or rocks to hibernate.

Other frogs have the ability to use estivation, which is a process through which ice crystals form in certain parts of the body in a cold environment. However, the high concentration of glucose in a frog's body helps prevent vital organs from completely freezing. Parts of the body that freeze are the body cavity, bladder and some portions of the skin. While it may appear to be dead, it is still partially alive. Once the weather begins to warm, the frozen parts of the frog's body thaw, allowing its vital organs to function as normal.