Show Details

Frog Hibernation

January 16, 2014

Hibernation is the key to getting an endangered frog species to breed in captivity.



Hibernating to survive. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Mountain yellow-legged frog Susanne Bard

A mountain yellow-legged frog at San Diego Zoo Global’s captive breeding facility. (Susanne Bard)

One of the biggest challenges in the effort to save endangered species can be figuring out how to get the animals to reproduce in captivity. For instance, attempts to breed California’s imperiled mountain yellow-legged frog were initially unsuccessful. That is, until researchers discovered that the amphibians need to hibernate first. Ecologist Frank Santana of the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research explains.

FRANK SANTANA (San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research):

In the winter they hibernate for a period of three to six months and so we mimicked that hibernation period and only the ones that were hibernated laid eggs. And only the males that were hibernated showed any interest in breeding with females.


The researchers are still trying to fine tune the captive breeding process. But Santana says enough young have been produced that they were able to reintroduce adult frogs back into the wild last year. Now, they’re trying to work out the best strategies for the frog’s continued survival in its native habitat. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.