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What's The Difference: Frog Vs. Toad

Don't know the difference between a frog and a toad? You aren't alone. Frogs and toads are both amphibians, but they are separate families of animals. They have many things in common, but there are also differences between them.

This is a green frog. Do you know what separates a toad from a frog? (Photo via Shutterstock)

Before we get into their similarities and differences, let’s start with this fun but confusing fact: All toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads. Basically, toad is a classification of frog. Here's another fun fact: There's no scientific distinction between a toad and a frog.

In terms of scientific classification, both frogs and toads belong to the order Anura, which means "without a tail." Within the order Anura are several families of animals, including Ranidae, which are referred to as true frogs, and Bufonidae, which are referred to as true toads. Other families of frogs and toads exist, but these are smaller groupings of species, and some are specific to certain regions of the world.

While many frogs and toads look similar, there are differences between them. For example, frogs usually have long, strong back legs that help them leap, but toads have shorter back legs better for walking than hopping. The difference in their legs also means they act differently when approached by humans. Frogs will usually use their long, strong legs to leap into the water, while toads are more likely to sit still and wait it out. If toads do jump away, their jumps are shorter than frogs’.

Another difference in their appearance is their eyes. Frogs usually have big, bulging eyes, while toads' eyes are more subtle in appearance.

One of the biggest physical differences between frogs and toads is their skin. Frogs have smooth or slimy skin that is moist, and toads have thicker, bumpy skin that is usually dry. The differences in their skin are because of where they usually live. Frogs spend more time in the water or are usually very close to water while on land, so their skin stays moist. Toads spend more time on land and travel further from water. Unless you live very near water, you're more likely to see toads in your yard because they travel farther from water.

One big difference between frogs and toads is that all toads are poisonous, but frogs are not. Toads have parotoid glands behind their eyes that secrete toxins. These toxins help toads defend themselves against predators. The toxins permeate their skin, so you can come into contact with them if you pick them up. Most of the toxins are mild to humans, but you should always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling a toad.

Both frogs and toads lay their eggs in water, but you might be able to tell the eggs apart by the egg arrangement. Frog eggs are usually one mass or cluster, and toad eggs are usually arranged in a chain.

Both frogs and toads are indicators of a healthy ecosystem. They can't live in polluted habitats and are sensitive to changes in their environment, so the presence of frogs or toads is a sign the habitat is healthy. A sudden change in their presence might mean the area has become polluted or is otherwise unbalanced.

Another similarity is that both frogs and toads live in many places in the world, but not everywhere. Frogs live on every continent except Antarctica, while toads live everywhere except the polar regions, Australia, Polynesia and Madagascar.


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