If It Quacks Like a…

That raspy staccato “quacking” — like a tiny, frantic duck — isn’t one. You are being serenaded by an Alaska wood frog (Rana sylvatica).

In spring, wood frog males congregate by ponds and call females to procreate. Some of these old amphibians have overwintered in harsh Alaska conditions for up to 10 years.

Wood frogs are explosive breeders that travel up to half-a-mile between favorite marshes and swamp lands. The females search for fish-free, family-friendly ponds or stagnant puddles in which to lay eggs. Their frog eggs hatch into tadpoles that eat mosquito larvae and algae.

A wood frog grows to about 2 to 2 1/2 inches and its habitat extends as far north as the Arctic Circle.

Consider that our human core temperature cannot dip below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, or we may suffer hypothermia and expire. How do wood frogs survive subzero temperatures?

A wood frog is equipped with internal organs that tolerate northern climes. In fact, up to 65 percent of the frog’s blood and tissue freezes solid for seven months in Alaska. In winter, beneath forest litter or logs buried in snow pack, a cold-blooded frog lies immobile, without a pulse. Its eyes turn milky white and its limbs stiffen until late May or early June when its body begins to thaw.

The miracle of life in wood frogs is preserved because they are equipped with antifreeze (cryoprotectants) that prevents ice from destroying cells.

At summer’s end, male and female wood frogs wander separate ways in search of safe places to hibernate again.

How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. (Psa. 104:24)


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