Frog Hibernation – Everything You Need To Know

Frog Hibernation - Everything You Need To Know
Written by Daniel Paul

Hibernation in frogs is defined as             

“a state of decreased metabolic activity leading to inactivity in animals. It is characterized by decreased heart rate, breathing rate, and body temperature.”

Hibernation is a widespread behavior in animals, especially reptiles and amphibians, in winters. This helps them survive cold climates, food shortages, and unfavorable conditions.

In frogs, hibernation is one of the best evolutionary behavior that helps in increasing their chances of survival. Pet frogs also seem to follow this behavior. So, as the winter arrives, their body clock indicates them to have a long, sound sleep.

Pet owners (especially those having the first experience with frogs) get confused and consider their pet isill. The agitation is on point. It sometimes becomes difficult to distinguish between a hibernating or severely ill frog. Also, good guidance is necessary to make sure your little frog stays healthy during the whole time.

So, I thought to write a detailed article on this and help you with every aspect of frog hibernation. What do you need to do with a hibernating frog? Also, how will you know if your pet is hibernating? And a lot more. Keep reading till the very end, and do not forget to maintain your pet diary.

Why Do Frog's Hibernate:

Hibernation is, in fact, a protection mechanism for frogs. When it is cold, food is scarce. On the other hand, more energy is required to keep the metabolism high to protect the body from freezing. So, the frogs, like many other species, have a well-developed mechanism of hibernation.

How Does A Frog Hibernate?

When the temperature approaches close to 4 to 0 degrees Celsius, frogs start hibernating.

Some of them make water their homes. Water with a layer of ice/ cold water above is a perfect insulator for the species living underneath. So, hibernating frogs rest in the bottom of rivers, lakes, and ponds.

While others(especially toads) find places in other hideouts where the temperature remains controlled throughout the season. Moreover, they opt where they can camouflage themselves easily from other predators. Toads make a burrow themselves to give themselves a comfy resting stop.

How To Differentiate Between Active and hibernating frogs?

If you are wondering how a hibernating frog looks like, this can help you. Here is a comprehensive difference between a hibernating and an active frog.

Active Frog Hibernating Frog
An active frog gets oxygen from external air.
Hibernating frogs usually get oxygen from water.
The nostrils of the active frog are usually above water. It means they primarily use the lungs for respiration. It is called pulmonary respiration. Therefore, their throats can also be seen moving while breathing.
Hibernating frogs shift from pulmonary to cutaneous respiration. This means blood moves to the skin, and oxygen is also absorbed from the moist skin. It is because the oxygen requirements are low. These can be easily fulfilled by absorbing from skin
Active frog is warm and has high metabolism and activity levels. It is always ready to jump and prey. Also, it produces multiple voices.
Hibernating frog is cold, with its body temperature dropped to several degrees Celsius.
Active frog is, for the most time, has its hind legs close to the main body. This provides it enough thrust to jump and prey.
Hibernating frog is mostly in a four-point position. This means its body is more curled up, and its arms are outstretched. This position not only helps them stay warm but also maintains stability. In this way, no winds or waters can dislocate them.
The active frog keeps its eyes open and stays alert about its surroundings. The eyes are usually bulging outwards.
Hibernating frog is unaware of its surroundings. Even debris can even damage the eyes if there is no nictating membrane. During hibernation, frogs protect their eyes with it. Frogs also pull their eyes more into the head for further protection.
The belly skin is normally of lighter color according to the frog's original color.
The belly skin becomes reddish to pink. It is because of increased blood flow to the skin
The active frog can move in any direction. They show a response to every action.
Hibernating frog is more like a dead frog. Even if you turn it over or move its legs, it shows no response.

How To Know If The Frog Is Coming Out Of Hibernation?

Following things can help you identify if your frog is coming out of hibernation:

  1. When a frog starts coming out of hibernation, it begins breathing.
  2. The frog’s skin starts turning whiter as the blood starts going to its original circulation pattern
  3. The frog gets more alert and starts turning over.
  4. The body temperature starts rising.
  5. The frog stretches its legs.
  6. When the frog is coming out of hibernation, it responds to external stimuli.

So, if you see these changes in your pet frog, be sure that the beauty sleep is over. Your frog is reviving to normal life.

When Do Frogs Start Hibernating:

Frogs usually start hibernating in October. At this time, it is better to help the frogs living in shallow ponds or lakes. The shallow waters get frozen to the very bottom. This will also freeze the frog to death during hibernation.

Therefore, you can help the frogs move to nearby deeper waters with a depth of more than 40cm during this month.

Care Sheet For A Hibernating Frog:

When the winters arrive in their full zest, you must be prepared for a comfortable hibernation for your frog. Here is a comprehensive care sheet for your pet frog:

Food and water:

Provide your frog with a lot of food before it gets into hibernation. After going into hibernation, frogs can also come back unexpectedly when the temperature is milder. In this state, they tend to eat a lot. Since you are maintaining your frog’s environment, it can wake up anytime. Therefore, make sure you place food next to your frog when it is hibernating.

Also, when the frog has come out of hibernation, provide it a lot of food. Let it gain that extra fat that is necessary. However, do not make it obese. Here is the list of foods for frogs and the diet guide to keeping your frog healthy.

Do not forget to provide a constant supply of water free of chlorine, heavy metals, and other salts.

Ensure Maximum Comfort:

Your frog must be living in the aquarium. Make sure to give an excellent environment there. Provide some shelter and a lot of substrates too. It is to ensure that the frog feels at ease by being close to its natural habitat.

You can add multiple types of the substrate according to the type of frog. It can include gravel or a mixture of soil and sand.

Provide a deep dish to hibernate in if the tank is not an aquarium. The dish must be deep enough to accommodate the frog comfortably. Also, make sure there are enough plants underwater. Frogs take oxygen from water during the whole time. So, it is best to provide them the source.

Keep Them Separate:

If you have multiple frogs, keep them separate during this season. Frogs tend to gather a lot of energy before going into hibernation. Therefore, giant frogs can end up eating the smaller ones. So, keep them all separate to avoid any mishap.

Humidity And Temperature:

Some frogs need certain humidity levels during hibernation. For example, in tropical frogs, you need to mist multiple times a day to maintain the moisture level. Likewise, some frogs also need a heat source to keep the temperatures close to their natural habitat.

Here is a list of temperatures necessary for the survival of most common frogs pet species.

Frog Species Survival Temperature
Frogs From The US
60-80 Degree Farenhite
Argentine Horned Frog
75 Degree Farenhite
African Bull Frog
70-80 Degree Farenhite

Donts For Frog's Hibernation:

  1. Do not disturb the frog during hibernation. Frogs may appear dead during this time. However, they are doing great according to their body clocks. So, let them be and do not try to wake them up. Otherwise, you will disturb their natural timings.
  2. Do not forget your hibernating frog, even if it is not asking for food or water. You need to take care of it. Also, maintain the tank hygiene too. Otherwise, germs will grow, which can cause multiple diseases in your pet.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can You Wake A Hibernating Frog?

If you keep a hibernating frog in higher temperatures for more than half an hour, it will start coming out of hibernation. However, it is never recommended to awaken a hibernating frog artificially. If you are not sure if your frog is extremely ill, dead, or hibernating, this trick can help.

  • Will A Pet Frog Hibernate?

Yes, pet frogs living in a controlled environment also hibernate. However, if you are not maintaining the temperature fluctuations according to their habitat, there is a high chance that their hibernation pattern will also change.

  • What Month Do Frogs Come Out?

Frogs come out in spring. Among frog lovers, spring is known as the season of frog singing. However, they do not come out earlier in spring because it will still risk their existence.

  • How Do You Keep Frogs Alive In The Winter?

In winters, frogs usually hibernate. However, it would be best if you take care for your frog’s living conditions to ensure maximum survival. As a pet frog is not in its natural habitat, any negligence on your part can result in the death of your pet. We have discussed in detail caring for a pet frog in hibernation in this article. Follow the points exactly to ensure the best health of your pet.

  • What Happens If You Disturb A Hibernating Frog?

Usually, a frog is not disturbed during hibernation. Even if you move it out, it will remain unaffected. However, frogs hibernate a very safe position in which they remain unaffected by external factors. So, if you disturb the frog in the wild, it will be difficult for you to place it in its original position.

For pet frogs, it is the same case. However, if you wake up your frog from hibernation, it can affect its health in the long run. It can be tragic and shock to the body. The shock can also result in the frog’s death. So, it is not recommended to interrupt the natural cycles.

  • Is My Frog Dead Or Hibernating?

On the dead frog, there is a lot of fungi. You can also see oozing mass or any other signs of degradation. Also, dead frogs have their tongues out of their mouth. If you see any such signs, contact your vet. Let him confirm if it’s death, hibernation, or any serious illness.

  • How Cold Is Too Cold For Frogs?

Below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, a frog can freeze. So, you better take care of water temperature when your frog is hibernating.