A Look into the Life of the Wood Frog

Frogs; those short bodied, webbed toed, protruding eyed amphibians have been around for over 213 million years. However, the most interesting frog that I've stumbled upon is the Wood Frog.

Frogs; those short bodied, webbed toed, protruding eyed amphibians have been around for over 213 million years. Frogs can be found almost everywhere on Earth and there are more than 5,000 different species of them. However, the most interesting frog that I've stumbled upon is the Wood Frog.

Wood Frogs can be found in areas of Alabama, Georgia, all through the northeastern United States and much of Canada and Alaska. These little creatures are the only amphibians in the world that are found north of the Arctic Circle. They only grow to about three inches in length and are a brownish color. Just like most frogs, they feed on slugs, snails, spiders, beetles, and a variety of other insects.

Your probably wondering how an amphibian, such as a frog can survive living in the Arctic Circle. In the Arctic Circle, the average temperature for the warmest month is below 50 degrees. Well, based on this information, the answer to the question is the obvious... these fascinating frogs have evolved a unique way to adapt to the extreme cold of the Arctic winters. That adaptation is that they can freeze themselves solid.

When anything is frozen, the breathing close down, blood flow ceases, and the heart beat stops. That doesn't change the way of the Wood Frog. Everything shuts down just like it should when something living is frozen, normally in this type of situation since the heart beat stops, it is pronounced dead. The Wood Frog, on the other hand, is still alive. I guess you could say that they have perfected the cryogenic freezing process.

During the winter, as much as 45% of their body produces ice below their skin. The freezing is done by special proteins and glucose that prevent dehydration and the freezing to continue into their cells causing them to actually die and not unfreeze when the spring or summer hits. But when the spring occurs, these frogs thaw out and mate.

The thawing process, however, is a bit stressful, because when the frog freezes, his cells may shrink possibly causing damage to membranes and structural support systems. Any ice formations within its body's fluids also poses a threat of ice shearing or separating tissues that could disrupt the frog's way of communicating. When thawing, cell volume, balance, and energy must be restored.

The restoring time is very rapid and its basic physiological and behavioral functions return within a few hours of thawing. The heart starts beating again even before the ice in the body has melted completely and the circulation of its blood and respiratory system are back online soon after. 24 hours after the thawing process begins, the Wood Frog is able to show normal body postures and coordinate motor functions. The only thing that is not restored immediately is mating drive and courting behavior, this takes another few days to fully return.

Wood Frogs can be raised by us humans safely. They can go from being an egg to frogs in less than 50 days. First you need to plan ahead to have an aquarium ready before you collect your Wood Frog eggs. Always add some of the pond water that you get the eggs from, this ensures that bacteria and other micro organisms will be present to process the wastes from the tadpoles. Make sure that if you are using a one liter container that you don't have more than eight tadpoles in it, because a small batch of eggs can have up to 600 tadpoles.

Make sure that you place the container or aquarium in a bright location so algae can grow because this is what your young froggies are going to eat. If the container is outdoors, you want to make sure it doesn't get cold enough to freeze, because the tadpoles are not freeze adaptable yet!

Wood Frogs are used to a moist deciduous forest and can be found there or within places that have a lot of leaves lying around. In late November, these frogs will bury themselves only a few centimeters into the soil or beneath a pile of leaves or under a log to hibernate for the winter, because they can survive freezing temperatures, they really don't need to dig a deep burrow. Wood Frogs tend to have been seen hunting and eating smaller frogs before hibernating in order to store energy for their long sleep.

If you are out and about, looking for these fascinating critters, check under cattails, duckweed, poison ivy, red clover, elderberry, or Japanese honeysuckle, these are some common places Wood Frogs use for shelter.

Be careful if you catch one though, Wood Frogs produce toxic skin secretions to deter predators. And you are considered a predator to this tiny creature.

If you are planning on finding a Wood Frog as a pet for a youngster, you may want to consider the fact that it is rare to see a Wood Frog over three of four years old.

In conclusion, Wood Frogs are a very unique and fascinating amphibian that should be handled with caution, and suggested to not be a child's pet.