Walk-About Wednesday: Frogs in Fall

 

Frogs in Fall

I went walking today to a local pond. Along the way, I saw many signs of autumn.

Plants going to seed

Seeds being eaten by animals

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Nuts falling and decaying

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When I arrived at the pond, I wondered about this week’s topic-frogs and toads.

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What are frogs and toads doing during the autumn to prepare for winter?

 

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Frog outside local coffee shop

Frogs that live in water will spend the winter on the mud at the bottom of a deeper pond or lake. They might dig down into the mud so they are partially buried, or just lie on top of the mud. Why don’t they bury themselves completely? Because frogs need to keep getting oxygen from the water around them.

 

Frogs and toads also hibernate. In the fall they will look for a hibernaculum, a place where they can be safe from predators and harsh winter conditions.   Sometimes they have to travel to a deeper lake or pond to find such a place. Did you ever see lots of frogs crossing a road in the fall? It will usually be on a rainy evening. They are traveling to their winter hibernaculum. Here they will settle down, possibly in a group for better warmth and protection. Their body functions will slow way down, and they will survive for the winter off the energy stored in their bodies.

Toads spend most of their time on land, even during the winter months.

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TOAD in my garden

They use their strong hind legs and webbed feet to dig down into the soil, past the frost line. If they are not good at digging, they will find a crack or hole in a log or rock to hibernate in. Sometimes, they even over-winter by digging down into the dead leaves on the ground.

How do toads and frogs that live so close to the ground survive when the weather gets harsh and temperatures plunge to freezing or below? Well, they make a kind of antifreeze in their bodies that allows parts of their organs to become bitter cold but prevents them from freezing! Their hearts may stop beating and they even stop breathing for some time until they warm up in the spring.  They basically become a frogsicle or toadsicle. Pretty amazing, huh?

Hope you enjoyed learning about frogs and toads in autumn! Now you know why the frogs crossed the road!

Nature Mamaw

 

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