what happens to tree frogs in the winter

How Do Tree Frogs Survive the Winter?

Tree frogs remain active all year long, but they must adjust their behavior to survive the cold winter months, like many other animals. Here’s what happens to tree frogs during the wintery season.

Hibernation and Migration

Tree frogs often migrate to warmer climates during winter. They don’t travel far and will generally stay within their same geographical range, just in a different location. While some may hibernate during the winter months, this is less common.

Freeze Tolerance

Tree frogs can freeze solid during winter while still remaining alive and unharmed. In their organs—particularly the liver, and their eyes—an accumulation of glucose and other sugars act as natural antifreeze, allowing the tree frog’s cells to survive freezing temperatures, with some documented to survive temperatures as low as -4°F!

Where Do Tree Frogs Hide?

Tree frogs are quite resilient and resourceful when it comes to finding a warm, dry place to spend winter in. Some common hideouts include:

  • Rotting logs: Tree frogs like to tuck themselves into holes in rotting logs
  • Stumps and bark: Tree frogs often shelter beneath loose bark or the crevices of stumps during the winter months.
  • Rock crevices: Moist rock crevices make good hiding places for tree frogs.
  • Man-made structures: Tree frogs sometimes will hide in man-made structures like sheds, outhouses, and even wall voids inside homes.

What Do Tree Frogs Eat During the Winter?

During the cold winter months, tree frogs typically eat much less than they do during the warmer months. They conserve energy by eating only when they need to, surviving primarily on what they stored away during the spring and summer.

Tree frogs also get most of their water needs from the food they eat, including small insects and larvae. Sometimes, they’ll even form ice shelters to protect themselves from snow drifts and sleet or “eat snow” for the occasional refreshment.


Tree frogs are incredible creatures! They take advantage of a variety of strategies in order to survive cold winters, whether that’s migrating to warmer climates, freezing to near death, hiding in chic hideouts, or snacking on what they stored away during summer. Fortunately, they’re equipped with the basic tools they need to keep warm and toasty during the colder months.

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