Here's What Happens To Frogs In The Winter

frog pond

Photo: John Blough on Flickr

Animals — they’re just like us.When it gets chilly, they load up on food and seek shelter with friends.  But as Spring approaches, they begin to creep out.  

But where did they go all that time? And how did they survive in sub-zero temperatures?

From the frog to the butterfly, here’s how wildlife copes when it gets cold.

Cold-blooded frogs freeze in the mud then thaw out

Beginning in October, toads and frogs burrow under leaves, logs and mud. When it gets cold, the cold-blooded creatures literally freeze, reaching a near death state, usually for about four months.

Warmer weather activates a chemical similar to anti-freeze in their systems and they thaw out and resume hopping.

Butterflies hide in gaps they find in walls and trees

Most butterflies don't hibernate because their lifespan is so short. But those who do catch winter hide in small gaps and trees.

The luckiest find a man-made structure and seek shelter in the walls. They fall asleep there until it gets warm again.

Fish bury themselves in mud or hide in rocks

Fish swim to the bottom of the lake and their metabolisms slow down. Some species, like carp, bury themselves in the mud to stay safe.

Bass hide among rocks or logs. Even if the top layer of the lake freezes, they are down deep enough to stay safe. When it warms up, they scurry back to the top of the lake and enjoy some oxygen.

Ducks who don't migrate nest together to generate heat

Ducks who don't migrate for winter fatten up and then stay as still as possible. They huddle into groups of two or more, sometimes with their partner (ducks are monogamous) and other times with a bigger group. Staying together creates enough heat to stay alive.

Hedgehogs make a food stash of paralysed earthworms

Hedgehogs start preparing for winter by building several nests out of leaves and grass to hide out in. Then they go into a deeper-than-normal sleep in which their brains go dormant and their skin is cold to the touch.

They wake up every so often to move nests -- and to eat some of the paralysed earthworms they stored away in the fall.

The groundhog plumps up and digs below the frost line

The groundhog emerging Feb. 2 symbolizes an early Spring. But where does it come from? The groundhog builds a special winter habitat, going below the frost line so the temperature is stable.

Before heading down there to sleep, it reaches its maximum weight. By the time it crawls out, the groundhog has lost about half its weight.

Squirrels suck it up and make friends to use their body heat

Squirrels spend the fall stashing food into their nests. While they prefer to live alone, in the winter they hole up with others, using their body heat to stay warm.

They sleep five days a week and spend the rest of the time scavenging for food.

Only wasp queens survive and go on to start families

Almost the entire wasp colony dies in the fall, leaving only fertilised female queens.

Leaving the nest together, the females find a suitable place to hibernate, usually a tree. In the spring, the female makes a wood nest and lays her eggs. Within weeks, they build a new hive.

Snakes huddle by the hundreds and go to sleep

Garter snakes dig a nesting site below the frost line, where they'll aggregate by the hundreds, which is convenient because it allows them to find a mate when they wake up.

Like frogs, they reach a near-death state. When it starts to warm up, they venture out little-by-little.

Turtles stay warm underground and breath oxygen through skin

Turtles hibernate the longest of any animal featured here: up to eight months a year.

They dig under the soil until it's warmer and stay down there, coming out only to eat. They breathe through their skin, receiving oxygen from the water.

Raccoons lose half their body weight in the winter

Raccoons binge until they're chubby to prepare for winter.

Like squirrels, they sleep in groups for five days a week, usually seeking shelter in logs. The rest of the time is spent scavenging for food. By springtime, they've lost half their body weight.

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