Week of December 4, 2022 – December 10, 2022
by Anna Stunkel, Environmental Educator
As December’s chill sets in, I fondly think back to days of catching frogs at the pond or marveling at frogs and toads hopping around on the forest floor. Do you ever wonder how these critters survive in the depths of winter?
Some frogs, such as Northern Leopard Frogs and Green Frogs, sit deep below the surface on the bottom of ponds and other bodies of water. They need an oxygen rich aquatic environment to survive in winter. Toads have a different strategy; they burrow into the soil to stay warm and avoid freezing.
Other frogs, including the Wood Frog, Spring Peeper, and Gray Treefrog, are able to survive being frozen! When the freezing process first begins, a Wood Frog’s liver converts glycerol in the body into glucose. This helps to keep the inner parts of the cells from dehydrating or freezing completely. Once much of the water inside the frog freezes, the heart stops beating and organ functions cease. If temperatures drop below a certain threshold, it may cause death, but Wood Frogs in the northern areas of their range can survive temperatures nearly as low as 0 degrees Fahrenheit!
As you walk around Baltimore Woods and other natural areas, there may be tiny “frogsicles” just below the leaves. In a few months, they will slowly awaken and emerge to hop around once again, with their quacks, peeps, and trills echoing throughout the woods.