If you have a garden pond, you will notice that your pond is relatively quiet during the cold winter months, specifically with reptiles and amphibians. Both reptiles and amphibians are cold-blooded, which means their body temperature varies with that of the environment. An amazing transformation takes place during winter for both aquatic reptiles and amphibians, they enter a state known as brumation, which is a similar to hibernation, with a few major differences.
The brumation process is triggered by the shorter winter days and temperature changes, aquatic reptiles and amphibians’ metabolism slows down so much that they don’t need food or much water to survive. Like hibernation for mammals, before entering the brumation stage, reptiles and amphibians eat a lot of food to ensure they can live off of the nutrients stored up in their bodies over the winter months. Although it is similar in some ways to hibernation, brumation is not a deep sleep, animals may wake up and swim around during this stage.
Both reptiles and amphibians will still need to breathe during brumation, despite being dormant. Frogs have a very unique way of doing this. Although frogs have lungs, during winter they can breathe through their very thin porous skin whilst underwater. The reason they can do this is due to winter oxygen levels being highly concentrated, this is not possible in summer months, which is when you will see frogs breathing through their lungs above water.
Whilst pond life is not too visible in winter months, it is still there, just hidden away from prying eyes.