Dog Gone, The Frogs Are Gone

A telltale sign that winter is approaching is the ongoing wildlife activity. Although birds migrate to warmer climates, many wildlife species stay put, including the creepy, crawly, and slithery critters. What do reptiles and amphibians do to prepare for winter?

Since Minnesota’s 50 species of amphibians and reptiles can’t migrate south to escape the wrath of winter, these cold-blooded animals search for sites in the fall that meet their over-wintering needs. Strategies for surviving the inevitable chill are interesting and varied. Some seek safety underground, traveling deep into rock crevices or burrows to escape the frost line. Others take refuge in aquatic habitats, remaining submerged throughout the winter. Wood Frogs and members of the treefrog family are truly hardcore, nestling themselves under a thin blanket of leaves on the forest floor, freezing solid. They protect vital organs by creating their own antifreeze. These frozen frogs do not breathe or have a pulse, yet recover quickly when spring returns. Amphibians and reptiles typically settle in to their winter home by late October, however global climate change could alter seasonal patterns in animals whose activities are closely linked to temperature.

– Carol Hall – DNR herpetologist