Alaskan Wood Frogs Hold Pee through Winter

posted by Kat -

You know the saying, "when ya gotta go, ya gotta go." Turns out, that's not the case if you’re an Alaskan wood frog - then you hold it in until winter is over.  A new study shows that the frogs go around eight months without peeing  and surprisingly, its actually what keeps them alive during the winter.

The wood frogs freeze over completely during the winter. “Their eyes  are white. Their skin is frosty. They’re like little rocks. They’re  frozen,” says Jon Costanzo, the study’s co-author. Some  frogs get as cold as zero degrees in the winter, but thanks to a  bacteria in the frog’s gut the critters are able to stay alive. The  bacteria recycles urea, which is the main waste in pee, and uses it to  protect the frogs’ cells and tissues - kind of like antifreeze.

  • The bacteria, Pseudomonas, is found inside the frogs’ stomachs.  Researchers believe this bacteria is what helps the urine to protect the  frog through hibernation. It’s also found in other animals that  hibernate during the winter, however most other animals don’t freeze  over like these frogs do.
  • And when they even wake-up in February, its still freezing outside,  but they're ready to mate. “People are fascinated by bear hibernation,”  says Costanzo. “But in my book any animal that allows  itself to freeze solid and is able to recover from it and walk away and  thus go about its business like nothing happened, to me that’s about as  cool as it gets.”

Source: Proceedings of the Royal Society B

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