Can Frogs Drown? And How To Keep Frogs From Drowning

Can frogs drown?

Frogs are one of the most remarkable creatures. Unlike many other animals, frogs can live on both the land and in the water. While they are versatile animals that you can find all around the world, they are not invincible. That said, you might be wondering whether or not a frog can drown? 

Believe it or not, frogs can drown in water. Frogs can spend a lot of time underwater, but they are susceptible to drowning if too much time is spent underwater because they have lungs. So if you have a pet frog do not suppose that they are immune to drowning. 

In this article, you will learn about how frogs can breathe and spend time underwater, as well as how you can prevent them from drowning.

Frogs Can Drown

Frogs have adaptations that allow them to spend time underwater, but frogs can drown because they have lungs that require oxygen to function properly. While a frog has lungs to help it breathe on the land, it uses the oxygen in the water to breathe when swimming.

If a frog happens to get into a water body with low oxygen levels, there is more probability that drowning will occur. This is especially true if the frog has no way of getting to the surface to get air. Another way a frog can drown while in the water is if too much water gets into its lungs. Just like any animal with lungs, an influx of water can cause a frog to drown.  

Can Frogs Breathe Underwater?

The way frogs breathe underwater is quite complex. Unlike most animals, the frog goes through a series of significant stages from birth to adulthood. Each stage influences how the frog breathes.

Tadpoles have gills. When the frog initially emerges from the egg, it is fully equipped with gills to spend all of its time in the water until it begins to transform into a frog. The frog remains in this gill stage, breathing for between one to three months (Source: Britannica). 

As the tadpole begins to move closer to the frog stage, its lungs become larger, and the gills begin to disappear, along with the tail. This process happens very slowly, but once the gills are completely gone, the frog is ready to move from the water to land. 

Frogs have fully developed lungs that allow them to breathe on land. It is important that frogs not allow water to get into their lungs during their water time because it will lead to their death. Because frogs have lungs that they cannot use to get air in the water, they use their skin to absorb oxygen from the water.

Because frogs use the oxygen from water to survive, they must be in oxygen-rich water. If a frog finds itself in a water source that does not have ample oxygen levels, the frog may die. Because of this, they will often find themselves in bodies of water that have locations to exit when necessary. 

How Does a Frog Breathe Through Their Skin?

Frogs “breathe” through their skin when in the water. This act of “breathing” is not like traditional breathing that we experience with lungs. The technical term for this process is known as cutaneous gas exchange. 

Cutaneous gas exchange occurs when oxygen dissolves on the surface of the frog’s skin and is transferred into the bloodstream. The unique thing about this process is that it can occur both in and out of the water. Frogs depend on cutaneous gas exchange to keep them alive during hibernation periods as well. (Source: Online Biology)

Frogs Have Wet Skin

If you have ever spent time observing a frog, you took notice of their wet or slimy-looking skin. While it appears the frog is shiny, it is not slimy to the touch. The frog’s body is covered with a thin layer of mucous. This mucous allows the frog to absorb dissolved oxygen from both the air and water easily. 

How Long can Frogs Spend Underwater?

Frogs spend much of their time under the water swimming and hiding from predators. If you have ever watched a frog move through the water, you have noticed their gracefulness as well as the duration of time they can spend in the water. 

If the water is oxygen-rich, a frog can spend a lot of time swimming around without breaking the surface for air. Most frogs can spend between three and seven hours underwater.  However, several distinct factors impact the amount of time a frog spends underwater. 

Different Species Of Frogs Can Spend More Time Underwater

Not all species of frogs spend the same amount of time underwater. Aquatic frogs such as the African Clawed Frog, Green Frog, and Mink Frog spend most of their lives in water, while most other frogs spend much less time in the water and prefer land-dwelling.

Although a frog may not spend a lot of time in the water, they still have moist skin to help them absorb oxygen from both the land and water. One thing that all frog species have in common is their return to the water when breeding. 

Activity Level

The amount of time a frog can spend underwater is also dependent on its activity level. If a frog is highly active in the water, it will need greater oxygen intake for survival. This is because their higher metabolism requires greater oxygen intake. 

If a frog is low activity when in the water, meaning their metabolic rate remains low, they will be able to stay in the water for a longer period. The low activity level means the frog does not require as much oxygen to survive for a long duration. 

While species and activity level may determine the length of time a frog can spend underwater, there is not enough research to give a specific designation of time. Because frogs can spend so much time underwater it is unlikely that they will drown. However, it is still possible for a frog to drown. 

Where do Frogs Most Commonly Drown?

Frogs are adept at swimming, so you may be wondering where frogs most commonly drown. You have never walked around a pond to see masses of drowned frogs. It is uncommon for a frog to drown in its natural habitat unless there is an issue with the water, making it an unsafe environment. 

The most common place you will find drowned frogs is in swimming pools. Swimming pools are especially dangerous to frogs because not only do they contain chemicals, but there is rarely a place for the frog to escape the water. Because the frog cannot escape the water, they will drown.  Another time frogs run the risk of drowning is during mating season. 

Why Frogs Drown During Mating Season

While it is uncommon to find drowned frogs around a pond or other natural bodies of water regularly, there are times during the year that frogs can drown in their natural habitat. This time of year is in the spring when mating is occurring. 

Suffocation: A male frog often becomes aggressive during the mating process and suffocates the female frog by not allowing her to get above the water for air. Another way this can occur is when mating balls are formed. This happens when several frogs connect and drown.

Exhaustion: Mating season can be extremely taxing for female frogs. Because of this, many can drown just from being too tired to get to the surface of the water. (Source: BBC Wildlife)

Why Frogs Drown In Pools

As you know, most pools contain salt or chemicals to keep harmful bacteria out. Unfortunately, frogs cannot detect chemicals in the water until it is too late. The chemicals will quickly destroy the frog’s delicate skin. This, of course, makes It hard for the frog to survive in the water. Additionally, a frog can get stuck in the pool without easy access back out of the pool.

Though frogs are great at jumping, they cannot easily jump out of a pool while they are forced to swim. So naturally, a frog cannot escape the pool and gets exhausted. This of course, leads to the frog drowning. 

How to Prevent Frogs from Drowning In Your Pool 

Since frogs are so attracted to water sources, you may be wondering what you can do to help prevent them from drowning. Fortunately, you can do several things to protect frogs from drowning. 

Turn lights off: Frogs are naturally attracted to light. If you have landscaping lights around your pool or pond, it would be wise to ensure they are not illuminating the water source. This will help deter frogs from inadvertently entering the water. 

Cover the pool: If you do not want to dim the lights on your pool area, the next best thing to do would be to cover the pool. This is a surefire way to prevent frogs from diving into the pool. However, you may have an overachiever that manages to crawl under the cover. 

Keep it neat: Keep the area around the water neat and clean, without weeds and overgrowth. Frogs thrive in damp, shaded areas. If you provide this type of habitat around the pool, you are certain to invite frogs into the pool. The best way to alleviate this risk is to remove all weeds and overgrowth from around your pool. 

Balance the water: Making sure the chemicals in the pool are balanced will help deter frogs from jumping into the water. When the chlorine levels drop in the pool, frogs cannot sense the danger it may pose and are more apt to go for a swim.

Keep the filters on or add a water feature: Frogs are not likely to enter an area with moving water, so if a water feature is added, frogs will avoid swimming or entering the water. 

Use a fence: If you take the time to install a fence around the swimming pool’s perimeter, it will hinder the frogs from getting into the water. The fence does not need to be anything fancy, just secure enough to keep frogs out. 

Salt Water and Vinegar:  Frogs do not like the scent of vinegar and saltwater. To help keep them out of the pool, you can try a DIY spray of salt and vinegar. The downfall with this option is that it needs to be repeated often, as it will wear away over time. 

Frog Ramp: You can also be proactive when it comes to helping the frog get out of your pool. There has been a special ramp created that you attach to the side of the pool.  It provides a surface for the frog to climb onto, which allows them to escape the pool. 

As you can see, there are many different options when it comes to keeping frogs safely out of the pool. Finding the best option for your landscape, needs, and pool area may take trial and error. 

(Source: Advanced Pools )

What Should You Do if You Find a Drowned Frog in the Pool?

Seeing a dead frog in the pool may cause you to feel either empathetic or disgusted. No matter your reaction, it would be best if you got the frog out of your pool. Although the frog is dead in a pool with chemicals, you need to remove it from the pool. 

  1. Use a pool net to remove the frog.
  2. Please dispose of the frog in an area where other animals cannot get it.
  3. Be sure to disinfect the pool net in case the frog had any bacteria on it. 

When you find a dead frog in the pool, you should not be concerned that the pool is dangerous to swim in. While a dead frog is not exactly welcoming, it is unlikely that it will upset the chemical balance of your pool. 

How to Keep a Pet Frog from Drowning

If you have a pet frog, you may be wondering how you can keep your pet safe from drowning. The good news is that a frog in captivity is going to be much easier to keep safe. The most important thing you can do is provide a habitat that is safe for your frog. To understand the proper habitat, you need to know the exact type of frog you have. 

Frogs that live in water:  Some pet frogs, especially the African Dwarf Frogs. This species of frogs can live in an aquarium setting because they live completely in the water, only rising to the surface to take a breath. If you try to keep this type of frog on land, it will cause them to die. 

Frogs that need little water: Some pet frogs that you find will need a water source, but they will not be spending much time there. Tree frogs and toads prefer not to spend much time in the water. If you choose to have this type of frog for a pet, you will want to make sure they have plenty of dry area in their enclosure. 

Frogs that rely on water: Most frogs spend much of their day and life in water. Leopard and Green Frogs are two types of frogs that will need a semi-aquatic enclosure to live in. They spend a lot of time in the water, but they also need access to land. 

Make Sure Your Frog Can Easily Move In and Out Of Its Water Source

If you maintain the proper setting for your pet frog, you will not have to worry about the frog drowning. The most important thing you can do to prevent your frog from drowning is to make sure they can easily move in and out of their water supply. 

When preparing an enclosure for the frog, if you are uncertain about the living conditions for your pet, it is wise to seek the advice of an amphibian expert. 

Can Frogs Drown in the Winter?

When ponds are covered with ice in the winter, you may be curious to know where the frogs go and what happens to them. If they cannot stay submerged for more than seven hours most of the year, how do they stay submerged 24/7 for several months?

Remember, frogs take oxygen from the water to breathe when they are submerged. The same thing happens during the winter. However, there is a difference in the activity level of the frog in winter. Because it is hibernating, the frog requires very little oxygen to survive. This means the frog can stay submerged for months, only relying on the oxygen in the water for survival. 

Can You Rescue a Drowning Frog?

If you happen to come across a frog that is still alive and appears to be drowning, you may be able to rescue the frog. The first thing you want to do is get the frog out of the water. You may need to use a net or stick to do this, depending on the frog’s location. Once you have assessed the condition of the frog, you need to move it to a warm location.

While this is not guaranteed to bring the frog back from the brink of drowning, there is a good chance it will work. You need to be patient as the frog recovers and understand it may take several hours of warmth to reach full strength again. If the frog is going to recover, it will be ready to jump away as soon as possible. Because of this, you want to make sure it remains outside in a safe location. 

If you notice the frog when it is cold outside, you may want to bring it into the house. That said, you need to prepare a safe location for the frog. Keeping the frog in a box or container is the safest thing to do. Once the frog recovers, release the frog back into the wild so it can survive. 

(Source: Suz and Tell)

Final Thoughts

Frogs are amazing land and aquatic animals, but it is important to remember that frogs can drown.  If you have a water source in your yard, you should ensure that frogs do not unnecessarily enter the water and drown. Frogs are naturally drawn to water, so anything you can do to make it less appealing will be helpful because frogs can drown if they do not have access to a land source. 

If you have a pet frog the most important thing you can do is make sure they can easily get in and out of their water source. This is the best thing you can do to prevent your pet frog from drowning. 

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