Difference Between Frogs And Toads
Are frogs and toads the same? Well, “Anura” -literally meaning without tail in Ancient Greek.
It’s an order of amphibians (about 5000 species known to science so far) which are usually referred to as “frogs”, to which both frogs and toads belong.
Therefore, all frogs and toads fall under the same taxonomical classification. The taxonomical hierarchy looks like this:
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Subphylum: Vertebrata
- Group: Gnathostomata
- Class: Amphibia
- Clade: Salientia
- Order: Anura
Quick Reference Section
This means that all toads are “frogs” but not all frogs are toads, or in other words, that toads have unique features that make them distinct from the main frog category. However, features that distinguish toads from frogs are informal, not from taxonomy or evolutionary history.
Toads mostly fit into the family Bufonidae, whose nearly 500 species are considered “true toads” (It’s the only all-toad family in Anura).
But things are not as simple because at the other end of the spectrum, there are also about 600 species in the family Ranidae that are specified as “true frogs.”
This leaves thousands of anurans somewhere in between and the most confusing thing is that lots of species could reasonably fit into either category.
The most obvious features that distinguish toads from frogs are:
1. Skin Differences
Toads are warty-looking, covered in little lumps and bumps, and virtually always have dry skin, while most frogs have smooth, moist skin, that looks wet even when they are out of the water.
Toads cope much better with dry conditions than frogs, as their skin is more waterproof.
This skin difference is related to the environment in which each specie develops.
2. Body Features
Toads are somewhat squat and dumpy while frogs are “athletic-looking”. Toads hardly look like athletes. They have stout bodies that are used more for crawling than the long leaps associated with frogs.
Frog legs, when stretched to full length are longer than the head and the body combined. This body shape together with legs shape enables frogs to take leaps farther than the length of its own body.
- Their faces are different too; toad noses are broader while frogs have a pointed nose. In what has to do with eyes, frogs typically have larger, more bulging eyes than toads.
- Toads have a total lack of teeth while some frogs have teeth called maxillary or vomerine teeth that help hold the prey still. These teeth are only on the roof of the mouth and do not function for chewing capacities.
- Toads can often be recognized by distinctive poison glands located behind their eyes, which frogs do not have.
- Last but not least, toads have something called the Bidder’s organ, a rudimentary ovary found in both sexes that can turn adult males into females.
3. Egg Laying Differences
Toads typically lay eggs in long chains while frogs usually lay eggs in grapelike clusters.
- In both cases, if you peer closely you’ll see black spots, which are the embryos inside the eggs. This translucency allows the embryos to gather more heat from the sun.
- A few toads are the only members of Anura that bear live young.
Toad eggs might be wrapped in the tall grass around a body of water or over some leaves. This makes them very hard to spot. In comparison, the frog lays its eggs on top of the water’s surface. They are much easier to see.
Toads abandon their young trusting that their offensive secretions will be enough to repel predators.
- In some frog species, it is the male’s job to guard the eggs. Therefore if you find a frog nearby a group of eggs, it might be a sign that there are frog eggs.
Like their adult counterparts, toad tadpoles are chunky while frog tadpoles are slimmer.
- Toad tadpoles are plain black while frog tadpoles are also covered in gold flecks.
Video Explained Of The Differences
Despite the differences, and as said above, toads and frogs belong to the same taxonomical classification and have more in common than they don’t. The 3 basic similarities are:
1. Glandular Skin
Toads and frogs both have glands that give off secretions. These glands are located primarily along with the head and back.
Both toads and frogs give off secretions that can range from off-putting to poisonous. This helps repel predators.
2. Skin Shedding
Frogs and toads both shed their skin periodically and then consume it to remove any trace that they were in the area. This is called dermatophagy.
This very phenomenon is also what is believed to allow frogs and toads to reabsorb nutrients and to keep the permeable nature of the skin by preventing it from becoming hard or rigid.
Some frogs will shed their skin as often as every day.
Both toads and frogs have similar feeding habits.
Since they are found on every continent except Antarctica, their habitats are extremely varied. This means that their diets are also varied, but what is consistent is that both toads and frogs are carnivorous. Another similarity is that toads and frogs tend to swallow their food whole.
Looking to get a pet? Check out our list of the best pet frogs to see which one is best for you!