Photo Credit: Melanie Foose
Wood frogs are extraordinary creatures. They are the first frogs we hear in the early days of March in the spring, although during the unusual spring this year I heard them along with chorus frogs and even spring peepers! Their mating call is certainly unmistakable and can be heard from afar with a resounding cacophony of quacking in our neighborhood woodlands. However, wood frogs can be very difficult to spot, their brown bodies easily camouflaged in the brown dusky leaves of the forest floor.
These frogs not only have a mysterious look, with a thin black mask across their eyes, but they have the remarkable and mysterious ability to freeze... yes, freeze solid and still survive! The frogs are able to freeze and enter a state of suspended animation due to a massive input of sugars into the frog’s cells combined with the removal of all water from the inside of the cells. They remain in this state, without even a heartbeat, for days, weeks, or even months through the winter until the warm spring temperatures thaw them back out. As the leaves, logs and soils around them thaw, they slowly come back to life for another season of eating tasty insects in the upland woods surrounding their breeding ponds.
For a glimpse into the freeze-thaw cycle of wood frogs, take a look at the short video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fjr3A_kfspM