Frogs are cold-blooded animals that rely on the heat of the environment to keep themselves warm. This is one reason why frogs are so prevalent in warmer environments. At the same time, this is also the reason why frogs hibernate during the winter when the temperatures become too cold for them to survive.
Frogs generally come out of hibernation in the Spring, but precise timing depends on the type of frog. Tree Frogs generally come out of hibernation in early Spring after the frost melts, aquatic frogs once ponds are no longer frozen, and toads come out once the soil is warm enough.
Because different types of frogs have different habitats and habits, it also follows that different frogs tend to come out of hibernation at different times. When they end hibernation mostly depends on how long it takes their natural habitat to warm up for an extended period of time. As such, I am going to cover different types of frogs and when they generally come out of hibernation.
How Long Do Frogs Hibernate?
Toads generally hibernate the longest and can be underground for 8 to 9 months. Tree Frogs come out of hibernation the earliest at the very beginning of Spring after about 5 months. Aquatic frogs come out between Spring and Summer depending on how fast their natural habitat warms up.
Here is a general idea of how long frogs hibernate for depending on location and species:
|Species||Type||End of Hibernation|
|Wood Frog||Arboreal||February / March|
|Spring Peeper||Arboreal||February / March|
|Grey Tree Frog||Arboreal||February / March|
|Natterjack Toad||Terrestrial||February / March|
|Green Frog||Aquatic||March / April|
|American Bullfrog||Aquatic||March / April|
|Pickerel Frog||Aquatic||March / April|
|American Toad||Terrestrial||April / May|
|Canadian Toad||Terrestrial||May / June|
Frogs are in a state of hibernation throughout the entire winter which generally lasts from the first few frosts to the last extended period of defrost. Let’s have a closer look at why certain frogs hibernate longer than others.
Toads Hibernate The Longest
Toads located in Canada generally hibernate 8 to 9 months underground below the frost line since they are not freeze tolerant. Toads located in England only hibernate for 5 to 6 months since the Winters are shorter and less harsh in Europe.
Toads are terrestrial frogs that spend most of lives on land. Once the temperatures start to drop, you will not see toads roaming around. It was almost strange but ever since the very first day of September where I live in North-Eastern Canada, I have not seen one toad. They will not be back out until the soil warms up in May or June.
During winter, Toads usually dig into the soil to hibernate. What they do is that they dig a deep enough hole that would allow them to stay below the frost line. This allows them to stay warm and survive the harsh North American winters.
Toads usually hibernate the longest because the soil tends to warm up the slowest when Spring has arrived. The falling snow and the remaining moisture from the melting snow tends to keep the soil cold even when the first frost has melted. This is why Toads tend to stay in hibernation longer than most other frogs, as it may take weeks after winter has ended before they would come out of their burrows.
Tree Frogs Hibernate The Shortest
Arboreal frogs such as Wood Frogs tend to hibernate the shortest periods of time at approximately 5 to 6 months, from the first frost to the last frost, generally beginning in September and ending in March to June in North America.
Tree Frogs are frog species that are primarily arboreal. This means that they spend most of their lives perched in and around trees. The fact that they are arboreal also allows them to hibernate for a shorter period compared to the other types of frogs.
Here is a table covering when Wood Frogs come out of hibernation depending on their location:
|Wood Frog Location||Beginning of Hibernation||End of Hibernation|
|South Eastern North America||October, November||March|
|Central North America||October, November||March|
|Northern Canada, Alaska||September, October||May, June|
During winter, Tree Frogs usually like to stay in different types of shelters. Tree Frogs can freeze up to 60% of their body and generally hibernate in tree hollows and under leaf litter during Winter. Since they are exposed directly to the freezing soil, these frogs are the first to feel the frost of winter, and the first to feel the melt.
Tree Frogs tend to come out of hibernation once the first frost starts to melt. But the fact that Tree Frogs tend to come out of hibernation when the first frost melts can also be detrimental.
There are periods in winter when the temperatures begin to rise but would come back down in a few days. When Tree Frogs detect that some of the ice has melted due to the increasing temperatures, they may come out of hibernation sooner than they should (CTNF). In most cases, this leads to the frog’s death when the temperatures suddenly fall back down.
Aquatic Frogs Hibernate Until The Water is Warm
Aquatic Frogs generally hibernate under the debris and decaying vegetation at the bottom of ponds and bodies of freshwater, below frozen ice during the Winter. They remain there until the water melts and warms up in the Spring.
Aquatic Frogs are types of frogs that spend most of their life in the water. In most cases, these frogs also spend their winter at the bottom of a pond or any kind of body of water. There are even Aquatic Frogs that may swim in the water from time to time right below the frozen ice.
Given the fact that Aquatic Frogs tend to tolerate cold temperatures better than Toads, they usually come out of hibernation once the pond has melted. This can happen at any given time between Spring and Summer.
More About Frog Hibernation in Winter
I hope you enjoyed learning about how frogs hibernate and for how long! Learn more about frog hibernation and what frogs do in the Winter on our blog: