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What Is the Difference Between a Frog and a Toad?

A Giant Toad.
A frog.
A frog.
A red-eyed tree frog.
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  • Originally Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Revised By: Wanda Marie Thibodeaux
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2014
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Frogs and toads are both amphibians in the same taxonomic order but belong to different families (Ranidae and Bufonidae, respectively). Most Ranidae species have smooth, moist skin, a narrow body, long legs and teeth in the upper jaw. Members of the Bufonidae family have bumpy skin, a short body, stocky legs and usually don’t have teeth. Each can use poison as a defense, but in Ranidae, it is secreted through the skin, whereas in Bufonidae, it is held in poison sacs behind the eyes. Although both animals are found around the world, frogs prefer moist environments, while toads enjoy dry conditions.

Classification

Geographical Location

The living region of frogs is a little more widespread. They live everywhere except Antarctica. Toads are not found in Madagascar, Australia, New Guinea and the polar regions.

Body and Leg Shape

Overall, the body of a toad tends to be short. Its legs usually are quite stubby. This gives it a roundish, stocky or squatty appearance. Frogs look a little leaner and have elongated legs.

Skin Texture

A species within the Ranidae family generally has smooth skin. When pulled out of the water, it feels velvety or slimy, because it secretes mucus. This forms a protective barrier over the skin that keeps it moist. Most members of the Bufonidae family have dry, bumpy skin, which is often described as warty.

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Eyes

A person often can tell which amphibian he is handling by looking at the animal’s eyes. Frogs’ eyes bulge out from the head. They tend to be very round. By contrast, the eyes of a toad are inset and do not protrude.

Teeth and Snout

A major difference between these two amphibians are that Ranidae have teeth. These are found only in the upper jaw. The noses of these species also tend to be longer, matching the overall long shape of the body. Bufonidae do not have any teeth and have blunt, short noses. Despite this, both animals eat roughly the same type of diet, which includes organisms such as insects, grubs, worms, snails and very small fish.

Poison

Members of the Bufonidae family are unique in that they have noticeable poison sacs behind their eyes. Some species that fall into the Ranidae family still can use poison as a defense, however. They secrete poison through their skin rather than having poison sacs. Bright colors often warn predators that the amphibian isn’t safe to eat.

Environment

All of the differences toads and frogs exhibit are adaptations that help members of each family to survive in different environments. In general, Ranidae need to live near water and typically lay eggs in clusters. Bufonidae prefer dry environments and usually lay eggs in chains. The long legs of frogs, along with the webbing that often occurs on their feet, help them to swim and jump long distances. The short legs of toads are much better suited to moving with short hops or walking over land.

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JackWhack
Post 29

@wavy58 – Yes, there is a way. The size and color are different.

Frog tadpoles are grayish-brown with black dots. You can see their little eyes pretty well.

Toad tadpoles are shorter than frog tadpoles and are solid black. You can't even tell that they have eyes.

I had some frog tadpoles in my swimming pool! I discovered them in the early summer when I uncovered the pool, and they looked totally different from the toad tadpoles in the pond nearby.

wavy58
Post 28

Is there a way to tell frog tadpoles apart from toad tadpoles? Do all tadpoles look the same at this stage of life?

StarJo
Post 27

The location of the amphibian can help you determine what it is in some cases. If I see one clinging to my window, I know that it is a frog, because only frogs can use their feet like suction cups to cling to things like windows and trees.

If I see it on the ground and it blends in with the dirt and leaves, it is probably a toad. They are grayish-brown and sometimes hard to distinguish from their surroundings.

Some people think that toads don't jump, but this isn't true. Just try to touch one or watch as your dog sniffs it, and you will see that they are pretty good jumpers.

Perdido
Post 26

I saw a glob of frog eggs right next to a string of toad eggs in my neighbor's pond. It was easy to tell the difference between the two.

The frog eggs appeared to be encased in gray gelatin. The frog eggs looked like peppercorns strung together on a transparent string.

anon115883
Post 17

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anon52282
Post 13

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anon52280
Post 12

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anon51016
Post 11

Thanks a lot for the information! It helped me find out what the difference between a frog and a toad was for my classmates and my teacher!

anon50513
Post 10

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anon48856
Post 9

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Post 8

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Post 5

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anon21370
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Post 2

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