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How Long Can A Frog Stay Underwater? Let’s Find Out!

How Long Can A Frog Stay Underwater

Frogs have unique physical traits that allow them to stay submerged in the water for a long time. They have permeable skin, strong lungs, and low metabolism, which helps them survive underwater.

So, how long can a frog stay underwater? Generally, frogs can remain underwater for a minimum of four hours and a maximum of seven hours. However, the Northern leopard frog, Common frog, Siberian wood frog, and American bullfrog can remain underwater for 5 to 7 days.

In this article, we will find out how frogs can stay underwater for a long time. We will also discuss the factors affecting how long frogs can stay underwater. So, let’s dive in!

How Long Can A Frog Stay Underwater?

Different species of frogs can hold their breath underwater for a few minutes to several hours. The length of time they can stay underwater depends on various factors. Such as:

  • The size of the frog
  • Temperature of the water
  • Quality of the water
  • Frog’s metabolism rate

Smaller frogs have a faster metabolism and need to breathe more often for oxygen. On the other hand, larger frogs can store more oxygen and stay underwater for a long time.

How Long Can A Frog Stay Underwater

According to a research paper, the Siberian wood frog can survive in tightly sealed containers with water containing very low levels of oxygen (less than 0.2 mg/L). 

In addition, Siberian wood frogs survive in water without oxygen for 5-7 days. Other frog species, like the Common frog, the Southern mountain yellow-legged frog, and the Northern leopard frog, can survive in water with oxygen levels of 2.5-3 mg/L. 

Overall, studies have found that frogs can breathe underwater for a long time without using up all their oxygen, as long as there is enough air in the water and the temperature is around 12°C or lower.

Why Frogs Stay Underwater For A Long Time?

Frogs are amphibians, which means they can stay on land and water. To stay underwater for a long time, frogs have developed unique physical traits. Below, we have listed some adaptations that help frogs remain underwater for a long time.

Why Frogs Stay Underwater For A Long Time

Breathing Through Their Skin

Frogs have moist, permeable skin that allows them to breathe through their skin when they are underwater. This process is called cutaneous respiration. 

According to a research paper, the hairy frog can breathe through its skin because it has capillaries in the top layer of its skin. Scientists have found that 20% to 95% of the respiratory capillaries in an aquatic frog’s body are located in its skin.

Thus, oxygen first dissolves on the frog’s skin and then enters the bloodstream through the capillaries. At the same time, carbon dioxide from the bloodstream diffuses out into the surrounding water. 

The Titicaca frog, which lives in Lake Titicaca, has wrinkled skin that helps it exchange gasses. As a result, these frogs don’t have to come up to the surface of the lake very often to breathe. Additionally, frogs respire through their skin when they are in aestivation and hibernation.

Breathing Through Their Skin

Low Metabolic Rates

When frogs live underwater, they decrease their metabolic rates. Thus, they require less oxygen to sustain their bodily functions and conserve energy.

Researchers have found that frogs that live in environments with low oxygen levels can lower their metabolism by around 30% more than frogs that live in areas with normal oxygen levels.

A Slimy Layer On Skin

A study found that frogs produce a slimy substance on their skin that keeps it moist. This slimy layer can also trap a small amount of air close to the frog’s skin. This provides extra oxygen for the frogs when they are underwater.


In the winter, frogs go into a hibernation state. Aquatic frogs like the Leopard frog and American bullfrog usually hibernate underwater.

During this time, they use special biochemical processes to conserve oxygen and stay alive during the winter. These processes involve changes in mitochondrial metabolism, membrane permeability, and reduced cellular electrochemical gradients.

Frog hibernate underwater

Ability to Hold Their Breath

When frogs stay in water with low oxygen levels, they tend to close their nostrils and mouth to stop water from entering their respiratory system. This helps them maintain a supply of oxygen in their lungs for a longer time.

What Environmental Factors Affect How Long Frogs Can Stay Underwater?

What Environmental Factors Affect How Long Frogs Can Stay Underwater

Below, we have provided a table listing some environmental factors affecting how long frogs can stay underwater.

Presence of predatorsIf predators are in the water, the frogs will be more careful and surface more often to avoid being eaten.
Change in seasonsIn cold months, frogs might hibernate and stay underwater a lot. In warm months, they might live around water bodies or on land.
Quality of the waterDirty or polluted water can harm frogs and make it hard to stay underwater.
Levels of oxygenWhen insufficient oxygen is in the water, the frog must come up to the surface often to breathe through its lungs.
TemperatureCold water helps frogs stay underwater longer because it slows down their body functions. In warm water, they have to come up for air more often.

How Can Tadpoles Carry Out Respiration Underwater?

When adult frogs lay eggs, the eggs hatch into tadpoles within 72-96 hours. Tadpoles have feathery structures called gills on the sides of their heads. As water passes over these gills, oxygen enters their bloodstream, while carbon dioxide is released.

Researchers from the University of Connecticut discovered that small tadpoles have a hard time coming up to the water’s surface to breathe air. Instead, they stick their open mouths below the water’s surface.

To get air, tadpoles lower the bottom of their mouth and suck in air from the water’s surface. They close their jaws quickly to seal off a pocket of air. This pocket has fresh air and a little bit of air they exhaled. When they raise the bottom of their mouth, the pocket gets squeezed, pushing air into their lungs.

You can watch this YouTube video we have added below for more information.

What Type Of Behavior Do Frogs Display While They Stay In Water?

When frogs live underwater, they may display several unique behaviors. Check out the list below for more information.

  • Frogs are excellent swimmers and use their powerful hind legs to swim in water.
  • Frogs look for safe places underwater. They hide under aquatic plants, rocks, or mud to protect themselves from danger.
  • At night, the African pipid frog Xenopus borealis produces a variety of sounds underwater to communicate with other frogs.
  • Underwater frogs mainly eat insects, worms, and small fish.
  • Many frogs lay their eggs in water. The eggs hatch into tadpoles. Tadpoles live in the water until they grow into adult frogs.
What Type Of Behavior Do Frogs Display While They Stay In Water
Frogs are incredible creatures with a myriad of adaptations that aid their survival in various environments. Their ability to hold their breath for extended periods is just one of these remarkable traits. Another captivating aspect of their biology is their response to colder climates. Dive deeper into the world of amphibians with our article on frog hibernation to uncover how these creatures adapt and survive during the chilly months. Additionally, while all frogs have a close connection to water, some species are particularly adapted to aquatic life. Learn more about these special amphibians in our overview of water frog species and their unique adaptations.


If you want to gain more information on how long can a frog stay underwater, you can read the FAQs we have given below.

Q: Do all frog species require water to survive?

No, all frog species do not require water to survive. Some frogs, known as Tree frogs, tend to live in trees and can survive without direct contact with water for several days.

Q: What happens if a frog runs out of oxygen underwater?

If a frog runs out of oxygen underwater, it may experience oxygen deprivation. This can lead to stress and fatigue and ultimately kill the frog.

Q: Can frogs survive in saltwater?

Most frog species cannot survive in saltwater. They are adapted to freshwater or terrestrial habitats and would not be able to tolerate the high salt concentrations in saltwater.

Q: Are there any frog species that are fully aquatic?

Yes. The African clawed frogs are fully aquatic and spend their entire lives in water.

Q: How do frogs protect their eggs and tadpoles underwater?

Frogs lay their eggs in water, and some species may attach them to aquatic plants or create foam nests to protect them from predators.

Final Words

In conclusion, there are different frog species that can stay underwater for several hours. The Siberian wood frogs can remain in water for five to seven days. Frogs can stay underwater for a long time due to their permeable skin, ability to store oxygen, and lower metabolic rates.

However, the amount of time frogs can stay submerged underwater can be affected by the temperature, presence of predators, oxygen level, and level of pollutants in the water.

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