Toad vs frog – can you tell the two apart? Both frogs and toads are amphibians, and while they have many similarities, there are also some key differences that will allow you to distinguish the two animal families by sight.
It’s worth clarifying that the distinction between frogs and toads is informal, rather than based in taxonomy or evolutionary history. All toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads, and through both frogs and toads belong to the Anura order, they are found in different families.
With this in mind, in this toad vs frog article, we look at the key differences between these two amphibian families. Read on to make sure you’re able to tell them apart:
Skin colour & texture
One of the most obvious differences between frogs and toads is in the texture of their skin.
Frogs have smooth, sleek skin that is slightly moist so can look a little slimy (though they generally aren’t). Their skin tends to come in mottled shades of green, yellow, or brown.
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. This skin power gives frogs the ability to stay underwater for extended amounts of time.
Toads, on the other hand, have dry looking, rough, warty skin that’s covered in tiny lumps and bumps. They are usually grey-brown in colour.
Toads are unable to breathe through their skin like frogs, but are able to survive for long periods on land in dry places. Their skin does have a special power though – toad’s skin releases a bitter-tasting toxin – similar to a skunk – when bitten, which burns the predators’ eyes and nostrils.
Toad vs frog body shape
As a rule, frogs are slim and athletic-looking with narrow bodies, while toads are more squat and dumpy, with a wider body.
On close inspection, the faces of the two amphibians are quite different. Frogs have more pointed noses with higher, bulgier eyes. Toads have broader noses with lower, football-shaped eyes. Frogs also have tiny teeth, whereas toads have no teeth.
Frogs are built for hopping and have long, powerful hind legs that can propel them long distances in high, springy leaps. Frogs’ legs are usually longer than their head and body combined.
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.
If you’re looking but can’t tell the difference between a toad and a frog, identifying their spawn might help. Frogspawn (or eggs) is laid in gooey clumps in a large mass, while toad spawn floats in long stringy lengths like a chain.
There are two main differences between frog and toad tadpoles.
1. Much like parents, toad tadpoles are chunky whereas frog tadpoles are slimmer.
2. Toad tadpoles are a plain black colour while frog tadpoles are dark with gold flecks.
Because frogs lose moisture through their skin easily they spend most of their lives in and around water, and will always live close to a water source.
Toads have most waterproof skin that frogs and are able to cope better with drier conditions. As such, 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 deserts in Africa, and elsewhere.
It’s quite common to find both frogs or toads in greenhouses, attracted by the warm, moist conditions and easy access to insects and other small creatures that live there too.
And that’s all for this round-up of toad vs frog. What do you think – any differences between these two amphibians surprise you? Or any differences we should add to this post? Please join in and let us know in the comments section below!