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What Are the Differences Between Frogs and Toads?

Updated on December 3, 2012

Frogs and toads, toads and frogs -- is there really any difference between the two? And when someone says it's raining toads, does that really happen?

To put amphibian jargon into easier to understand human terms, frogs and toads belong to the same family, but they are cousins, not twins. Both frogs and toads belong to the anura order; frogs belong to the Ranidae or Hylidae family, toads to the Bufonidae.

But since these creatures aren't up to introductions when you meet them, so it will be easier to explain the basic differences in appearance and habits to help you know which one is which.

Waxy monkey tree frogs
Waxy monkey tree frogs | Source
Toads spawning
Toads spawning | Source

Physical Characteristics and Habits

Frogs: Smooth, moist skin; green or brown in color with dark markings; pointed heads; back legs are longer than front legs. Frogs live in ponds and streams. Their need to keep their skin moist means they don't stray far from water. Some frogs have teeth. The back feet on a frog are webbed.

Frogs hunt both day and night and generally live alone. They are carnivorous, eating fish, insects, small mammals and other amphibians. Their natural enemies are birds and snakes, and those humans who hunt them for their legs.

Toads: Light brown with darker markings; skin is dry and bumpy; rounded heads; their back legs are not as long as those of the frog. Toads live on land. Toads have no teeth. Toad's back feet have little to no webbing.

Toads are nocturnal, live alone and are carnivorous. They eat insects, frogs, slugs, newts, spiders. Like the frog, their natural enemies are birds and snakes, but the toad secretes poison in its skin so enemies must hunt them cautiously. Those bumps on the skin? That's the toad's secret; the bumps are the glands that secrete the toxins to foil the toad's natural enemies.

During hibernation and mating, toads may live with other toads.

Frog and Toad Facts

Toads are notorious for urinating when you pick them up; this is something Mother Nature built into their survival mechanism. Losing the urine makes the toad lighter, enabling it to get further away from its captor. Another defense mechanism some toads have is the ability to fill their bodies with air. This makes them look larger to predators, in the hopes of discouraging attack.

Frogs and toads may enter a period of dormancy in hot, dry weather, termed estivation. The period of dormancy due to cold temperatures is termed hibernation.

Mating season occurs when the frogs and toads leave hibernation. Both lay their eggs in water. The frog's eggs look like a cluster of grapes; the toad's eggs look like a string of pearls. Frogs will lay their eggs in the ponds and streams where they live; the toads may lay their eggs in small pools of standing ground water.

The young of both the frog and toad emerge from the eggs as tadpoles before they mature. The toad's tadpole growth cycle is shorter than the frog's, probably Nature's adaptation for the likely brevity of the water supply.

About that Raining Toads Saying...

Especially during the mating season, when there is a good rainfall you will indeed see toads hopping about. It's true they're not coming from the sky, but when you see the sheer numbers of them -- at least in rural areas -- you'll be tempted to believe the saying.


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    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 5 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Rajan Jolly, it is interesting how many common things we find ourselves wondering about at times, isn't it? Especially since the advent of the Internet, the answers are only a few clicks away.

      Thank you for the read, comment, votes and Sharing.

      CZCZCZ, I imagine there's quite a few things we encounter in everyday life that we really don't know much about. I'm glad this hub on the differences between frogs and toads was informative.

      Thank you for the read and comment.

      Dilipchandra12, I appreciate you stopping by and for your comments. Mother Nature has so many wonders for us to behold.

    • dilipchandra12 profile image

      Dilip Chandra 5 years ago from India

      Good informative article, well written. Thanks for sharing the above interesting and useful read. Voted UP :)

    • CZCZCZ profile image

      CZCZCZ 5 years ago from Oregon

      Great hubs on frigs and toads. This was an interesting article read and I learned a few things.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 5 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Now this is something really interesting. Though I often wondered what the difference between these 2 cousins were your hub has made the distinction absolutely clear. Thanks for sharing this wonderfully useful information.

      Voting this up, useful and interesting. Shared as well.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Me too, Purple Perl, just never took the time to research it before.

    • Purple Perl profile image

      Purple Perl 6 years ago from Bangalore,India

      Thanks. I always wondered about the differences.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Great play on words, Puppyluv-- and thank you.

    • Puppyluv profile image

      Serena Zehlius 6 years ago from Hanover, PA

      Something I've always wondered about. Glad I "hopped" onto this hub. How fitting! :) Rated up and useful.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Leah and Fay, thanks for your support. Both frogs and toads help control insect pests, so both are useful critters to have around.

    • profile image

      Fay Paxton 6 years ago

      I told you I am plagued with frogs. After reading your hub and listening to the video, I do believe they are toads.



    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 6 years ago from Western New York

      I had no idea there was actually a difference between the two! Great hub, rated and voted!

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 6 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Eric, thanks much. I love frogs, too, but think it is really toads that I encounter most often.

    • Eric Prado profile image

      Eric Prado 6 years ago from Webster, Texas

      I love frogs! I had one named Chester in Junior high. Great hub! I vote up. =)