When winter knocks, it’s time for you to wear warm clothes and utilize your house heaters adequately. But have ever wondered what happens to animals during the extremely cold season?
Well, animals have different mechanisms for coping with extreme weather conditions. However, some of them may find it difficult to survive and succumb to the cold; this is however rare! This article highlights the survival tactics of a frog during winter.
What You Need To Know About Frogs
Frogs belong to a group of animals called the amphibians. This category is cold-blooded which means that their body temperature is solely dependent on the surrounding environment.
As such, the frogs will have to search for a relatively warmer environment to survive the harsh winter conditions. If they lack such a place, then they’ll likely freeze and may eventually die!
How Do Frogs Survive the Winter?
During winter, the upper surface of the earth is largely snowy and icy. Such an environment wouldn’t be ideal for the cold-blooded frogs!
To avoid the cold, they dig down into the soil to avoid the highly snowy surface. Interestingly, the soil is relatively warm despite being covered by ice.
What Happens if the Frogs Fail to Get a Warm Hiding Place?
If the frogs are unable to dig deep enough into the ground, they will freeze. Fortunately, most of them do not freeze to death but survive to enjoy the spring!
5 frog species have been found to survive the freezing environment. Most of them are found in North America. They include:
- Wood frog
- Cope’s grey tree frog
- Eastern grey tree frog
- Spring peepers
- Western Chorus frog
These frogs bury themselves under the fallen leaves during autumn. Also, their bodies remain relatively active throughout the winter!
Events Protecting these Frogs From Freezing
Even as the frog freezes, there exist a chain of events that occur to protect it from succumbing to the extreme weather conditions.
Immediately the ice starts forming on the frog’s skin, most of them will start converting glycogen (stored sugar) into glucose. The sugar is then released into the bloodstream thus protecting the cells from shrinking to death.
As the weather continues getting colder, the frog’s heart reduces it’s pumping intensity and eventually stops. This is followed by a partial shutdown of all the other body organs. This phenomenon is meant to reduce oxygen and nutrients requirements during the entire winter period.
At this point, the frogs appear dead but it’s actually alive! Their body metabolism systems are at their lowest to safeguard the little energy available.
If they deplete the energy they have before the environment is warm again, the frogs will die.
Even when it’s warm again, the frog must regenerate and undergo intensive body repair mechanisms. At this stage, the frogs are sluggish as the body repairs some of the damaged cells.
Further Research on Frogs Surviving Mechanisms
Scientists are conducting more research on other mechanisms that help the freezing-resistant frogs to survive the winter. Recently, they discovered that urea, a waste product eliminated through the frog’s urine, can help them to survive the cold.
Also, proteins have been found to bind on both the inside and the outside of cells which prevent them from shrinking.
The research on frog survival mechanisms is crucial since scientists believe that the findings can help increase the efficiency of organ preservation!