Five Freezable Frogs

Animals deal with freezing temperatures in one of three ways. Migration (leave), Hibernation (sleep), or Coping (deal).

001 (2)Five of our North American frogs cope with winter by allowing themselves to freeze in place. They thaw just in time to participate in a spring fling mating celebration.

Our Five Freezable Frogs are the:

  • Wood Frog
  • Cope’s Gray Tree Frog
  • Eastern Gray Tree Frog
  • Spring Peepers
  • Western Chorus Frog

As winter approaches, these frogs dig themselves under a blanket of fallen leaves (another reason to recycle the leaves in your landscape), but not deep enough to escape the hands of Jack Frost. Since they are ectothermic (a.k.a. cold-blooded), their own body temperature reflects the temperature of their surrounding environment.

At 32 degrees Fahrenheit, ice crystals begin to form. When one touches the skin of these frogs, it triggers a domino-like affect as one crystal leads to another covering the frog’s entire body. This leads to a chain of internal events whereby the liver converts sugars into glucose and is pumped throughout the entire body. The glucose basically acts as anti-freeze, protecting the cells from completely dehydrating and shrinking.

One by one, the organs begin to shut down. The heart continues to slow throughout this process and eventually, it too, stops completely.

When the weather warms, the frog begins to melt. Sluggish as it thaws, while also going through a process of replacing any damaged cells. The first thing the frog does once it returns to full capacity? The life affirming task of mating. This gives a whole new meaning to Spring Fling!

My photos here are of an Eastern Gray Tree Frog. To hear their beautiful sound, click the play button. Sound Credit:

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