Can you tell a toad and a frog apart? Both of them are amphibians, and even though they have many similarities, there are also some important differences that will help you distinguish between the two animals by sight. They are also both called anurans.
It is worthy to clarify that the distinction between frogs and toads is informal. It is not based on evolutionary history or in taxonomy. All toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads, and though both toads and frogs belong to the same Anura order, they are found in different families.
With this out of the way, let’s look at the key differences between these two amphibian families. We are going to learn about the differences based on the following categories.
The Main Differences Between Toads and Frogs
Here are the top five main differences between toads and frogs.
- Skin color & texture: Toads are browner in color while frogs tend towards green. The texture of a toad’s skin is warty, lumpy, and bumpy while a frog has more smooth skin.
- Habitat: Toads live in marshy places and can survive on land while frogs prefer more watery places and can live underwater.
- Movement: Frogs are more agile as they can hop up to 20 times their height while toads can only hop up to half their height.
- Skin features – Face and Legs: Usually, frogs are slim and athletic-looking with narrow bodies, while toads are more squat and dumpy, with a wider body.
- Spawn and Tadpoles: The eggs and babies of the anurans can help in distinguishing them.
We’ll explore these bullet pointers more in detail and, in doing so, learn more interesting facts about each species below.
Skin Colour and Texture
One of the most obvious differences between frogs and toads is in the texture and color of their skin. Frogs have smooth, sleek skin that is slightly moist so can look a little slimy, though they generally are not. Their skin tends to come in mottled shades of green, yellow, or brown but mostly green.
Frogs have glands to help keep their skin supple and moist, which allows them to take oxygen in through their skin as well as their lungs. Their wet skin power gives frogs the ability to stay underwater for extended amounts of time.
On the other hand, toads have rough, dry looking, warty skin that’s covered in tiny lumps and bumps. They are usually brownish or grey in colour. Toads can not breathe through their skin like frogs, but can survive for long periods on land in dry places. Their skin does have a special power though as it releases a bitter-tasting toxin when bitten, which burns the predators’ eyes and nostrils.
Toads live in marshy places and can survive on land while frogs prefer more watery places and can live underwater. Frogs easily lose moisture through their skin, therefore they spend most of their lives in and around water. This is why they always live close to a water source.
Toads have more waterproof skin and can cope better with drier conditions. Therefore, toads do not need to live near water to survive, and can often be seen wandering around gardens or grassy areas. There are even some species of toad that live in African deserts.
Both frogs and toads are attracted by the warm, moist conditions whether on land or water, and also easy access to insects and other small creatures that live there too.
Frogs are more agile as they can hop up to 20 times their height while toads can only hop up to half their height. Toads are not big jumpers, preferring to run or crawl around, or take small hops. As a result, they have shorter, less powerful hind legs than frogs.
Frogs use their long powerful legs to jump and hop around. Toads have shorter legs and so prefer to walk rather than hop. If they do jump/hop, they only move short distances. As such, they don’t really need long legs like a frog does so their legs are relatively short.
Skin Features – Face And Legs
In terms of size, toads are way bigger than frogs in terms of size and they have other distinctive features on their faces and legs.
A close evaluation shows that the faces of the two amphibians are quite different. Frog has a more pointed mouth, nose and bulgier, higher eyes than a toad. On the other hand, toads have broad noses with lower, round-shaped eyes. Frogs also have tiny teeth, whereas toads have no teeth.
For the legs, the frog has long, powerful hind legs, which helps them hop long distances in high, springy leaps. However, toads have shorter, stouter legs which helps them move around in a crawling movement. Frogs’ legs are usually longer than their head and body combined. The frog tends to look thinner and more athletic.
Spawns and Tadpoles
Another way of telling the difference between a toad and a frog is by identifying their spawn. The spawn (eggs) of frogs are laid in gooey clumps in a large mass, while the eggs of a toad float in long stringy lengths like a chain. Depending on the species, female toads lay eggs in long parallel strings, while female frogs lay their eggs singly, in clumps, or as a film on the water surface as can be seen in the image below.
Frog tadpoles are slimmer and have golden flecks, while the toad tadpoles are fatter and black in color. There are two main differences between frog and toad tadpoles.
1. Toad tadpoles are bulky but frog tadpoles are slimmer.
2. Toad tadpoles are plain black in colour whereas frog tadpoles are dark with gold flecks.
Facts about frogs
- They have a ridge of very small cone teeth around the upper edge of the jaw and may also have teeth on the roof of the mouth. The teeth are used to hold prey.
- Frogs are cold-blooded and hibernate to survive winter. They don’t lower their metabolism like most hibernators. Rather, there is a high concentration of glucose in the frog’s vital organs which prevents freezing. A partially frozen frog will stop breathing and appear quite dead. When it warms up, its frozen portions will thaw and its heart and lungs resume activity.
Facts about Toads
- Toads defend themselves by producing toxic or unpleasant-tasting skin secretions from their parotid glands situated behind their ears. They release this toxin when they are grabbed.
- The eggs and tadpoles of toads taste nasty. Frogs found in Missouri produce similar, weaker secretions but their toxins are harmless to humans.
Facts about Both Anurans
- There are more than 2,700 species of frogs and toads in the world. The largest is the Goliath frog from Africa, which is over a foot long and weighs five pounds and the smallest comes from Cuba and is only ½ inch long.
- Males of all frog and toad species can sing even under water. Because he closes his mouth and nostrils when he moves air rapidly back and forth over his vocal cords, he doesn’t need to breathe when he calls. Many anurans have enlarged or expandable vocal sacs to help their calls resonate
- The blinking motion of the amphibians pushes their eyes down into the upper part of his mouth and helps to force their food down their throat.
Are there any more differences we should add to this post? Please do let us know in the comments section below!
Which is poisonous, toad or frog?
Toads have poisonous skin secretions they use to protect themselves. Frogs have a species that produces poison and they are called poison dart frogs. It is from this frog species that the tips of darts used by South American hunters are dipped in.
Can salt kill frogs?
Yes, salt can kill frogs by making them dehydrated. Once salty water touches the feet and hands of a frog, it burns them and can definitely kill them.
What animal eats frogs?
The main animals that eat frogs are herons, snakes, otters, birds, minks, fish, otters, and humans. Also, crayfish, newts, owls, beetles, owls, etc., prey on smaller wood frogs.
Do toads die in winter?
Most toads cannot freeze and survive like frogs, so they tend to stay below the frost line throughout winter. They do this by burrowing the ground 6 inches to sometimes 3 feet deep.