Water Garden & Features Q & A
Q: What happens to my frogs in the winter? – Sue in Michigan
A: They ribbit and hop in your pond all spring, summer and fall, but when the cold weather comes, your frogs seem to disappear. Don’t worry – they don’t croak! They simply take a long winter nap.
There are more than 5,000 described species of frogs living on just about every surface of the planet. From the frigid Arctic Circle to the hottest deserts and everywhere in between – including your back yard. These welcome additions to any pond have evolved a well-known strategy to survive environmental extremes: They hibernate. Frogs that live in temperate climates with cold winters, like those throughout much of the United States, enter into a dormant state of sleep while living off their body fat reserves.
Aquatic frogs, like the leopard frog and the American bull frog, typically hibernate underwater. Because their skin can absorb oxygen, they lie just below the surface among aquatic plants where they’ll be safe from predators and frosty temperatures. An aeration system will add oxygen to your pond and create a hospitable habitat for your amphibian friends – and your finned friends, too.
Terrestrial frogs, like American toads, will hibernate on land. The ones that can dig will create a comfortable burrow beneath the frost line and sleep all winter; the ones that can’t dig will find safe hiding places, like hollowed-out logs, between rocks or beneath a pile of leaves, to protect them from weather and predators. Incredibly, these frogs won’t freeze to death; though they may partially freeze in very cold climates, a high concentration of glucose in their organs prevents them from freezing completely. When spring comes, the frozen portions thaw and they’re ready to get back to eating and reproducing.
Frogs are just one of dozens of critters that are drawn to water features. By providing a habitat with food, water and shelter, you can draw wildlife to your pond – which will enhance your enjoyment of it even more.
POND TALK: Do you have frogs in your decorative pond?