In a pee-holding contest between man and frog, man stands no chance — at least, not when it comes to the wood frog. According to Newser, this iron-bladdered frog can hold its urine for up to eight months during the winter.
Luis Villazon, a writer at Science Focus, reckons a human being can conceivably hold their pee for up to 36 hours. “The bladder holds 400 to 600 millilitres of urine,” reports Villazon. “Normal urine production is around 1.5 litres every 24 hours, so that would give you nine or 10 hours to completely fill up.” But since you can drop to just 400 millilitres of urine production for short periods of time — presumably by not getting enough fluids — 36 hours is the absolute maximum urine holding time (catheter not included). And still, this is pathetic when compared to the wood frog’s achievement.
So how do these frogs manage this seemingly supernatural feat? In short: Freezing. According to the same report, Miami University zoologist Jon Costanzo examined wood frogs under controlled conditions that imitated the subzero Alaskan and Arctic Circle temperatures where the frogs can be found. “If the frogs were human, they would be called dead — some Alaskan wood frogs get as cold as zero degrees,” he told Newser.
Costanzo found that the presence of a certain gut bacteria — Pseudomonas — helps keep the frogs alive. It does so by allowing the amphibian to recycle urea — a crystalline compound found in urine — which helps protect the frog’s bodily structure once everything else stops working. “Recycling urea — the main waste in urine — into useful nitrogen keeps the frogs alive as they hibernate and freeze,” reports Newser. “Urea protects cells and tissues, even as the critters’ hearts, brains and bloodstreams stop.”
Much to the dismay of all the wood frogs freezing their butts off in the Arctic wastes, however, they’re not the only animals with the ability to freeze their bodies during the winter. According to Earth Touch News, Painted Turtle hatchlings, the Upis beetle and the tardigrade — a truly remarkable beast that can survive not only being frozen to -359°F, but also high temps up to 300°F and even the vacuum of space — are other organisms who share this remarkable ability. But since the tardigrade’s trick to staying alive whilst frozen is by ridding its body of water and maintaining a dehydrated state for up to 10 years (there’s even one report of a tardigrade moving its leg after being dehydrated for 120 years) the wood frog is still the king of frozen pee-holding.
Humans, being incapable of going sub-zero, rely on other methods of leak tightening as we approach peak summer blockbuster season. Chief among, them according to the Times of India, is wrapping your penis in a death grip and keeping your urethra closed. “Focus instead on isolating and squeezing muscles surrounding the urethra while allowing other muscles to relax on their own,” they report. And just so you know, while holding in your pee won’t cause your bladder to explode, it might lead to a fairly painful UTI.
Frogs — 1, humans (Mr. Freeze not included) — 0.