In Alaska, Wood Frogs Freeze for Seven Months

Winters make us change. It chills us. Some are waiting for the winter to play ice hockey and enjoy with ice. We have to wear jackets, scarves, mufflers, hats, and more items to warm during winters. But do you know that some animals have to do some complicated actions to survive during the winter? Reptiles and amphibians depend on external heat sources to drive their metabolism because they are cold-blooded animals. Then how do they stay when the temperatures drop well below zero? In Alaska, Wood Frogs Freeze for Seven Months.

Many fish, frogs, and turtles have to spend their winter months their lives in ponds. But in winters, what will they do? Typically, water under the ice is usually slightly warmer than 0 degrees Celsius. Although the ice layer on top gets thicker, the water below is not going to freeze. Therefore it creates a sustainable environment for animals who are living in the water below the ice. They have to survive using this strategy until the spring. But we can’t guess how they find food regularly under the water.   

Some aquatic turtles used to burrow down in the mud on the bottom of the pond or in muskrat dens for part or all of the winter. Although turtles live under the water, they need to breathe fresh air. Therefore they come out of the water occasionally. However, they can slow their metabolism to the point that they don’t need fresh oxygen for months during the winter. But the problem is how they survive without a constant supply of fresh oxygen. Without fresh oxygen, we have to face sharp cramps because muscles aren’t getting enough oxygen. According to the Researchers, turtles use their shells for it. Because their shells are rich in Calcium and turtles, they adsorb part of their bones and shell to neutralize lactic acid build-up during the winter. Usually, cells create lactic acid as they break down more complex sugars into glucose, and without a constant supply of oxygen to complete the process, lactic acid can build up.

Image Credit Kobapan

But aquatic frogs breathe differently than turtles. They absorb oxygen through their skin. They lie on top of the mud at the bottom of the pond, and they still get enough oxygen to breathe. Frogs and turtles have adapted to the cold winters by tapping their cells full of glucose while allowing the water between the cells to freeze. The glucose prevents the actual cells from freezing, and particular proteins in their blood protect their cells from being torn to pieces by ice crystals. This has given some frogs the ability to let parts of their bodies freeze solid while protecting their essential organs.

During winters, we can see ponds and water bodies as ice layers. When we see a frozen water body, we feel that all lives have passed away. However, if you look a little bit closer to it, you’ll see them under the glass layer.



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