Amphibians are extremely diverse, flaunting various physical and behavioral traits. However, not all amphibians are capable of the same mobility methods, particularly concerning the capacity for climbing. This variation has led many animal lovers to wonder if toads can climb vertical surfaces.
Toads are not very good at climbing, unlike tree frogs which are generally adept climbers. They usually struggle to grip onto vertical surfaces and cannot maintain sufficient traction for climbing. However, there may be exceptions to the capacity for climbing within some species or on certain surface types.
While climbing is not common for toads on a broad scale, there are still a few exceptions within some toad species or contexts. Join us as we discuss when toads can or cannot climb and why most toads are not naturally equipped for climbing.
Toads generally cannot climb walls or smooth vertical surfaces since they have no padded fingers for sticking. Toads have claw-like fingers, which they could use for climbing extremely textured surfaces. They may climb mesh, but toads cannot climb high or cling to vertical surfaces for long.
Can Toads Climb Fences?
Toads may climb fences if the holes are large enough to stick their fingers through, yet small enough to maintain grip and move upward. However, toads are not good climbers overall and will generally avoid climbing fences unless they feel the need to do so for food or shelter.
The most plausible scenario concerns the presence of holes in walls or gates. The holes present in chicken wire are often too large, but some mesh gates may be suitable for climbing in rare cases. But toads will generally not try to climb fences if they do not feel the pressing need to do so.
Can Toads Climb Walls?
Toads generally cannot climb walls, as walls have no places to dig their claws for grip. Some walls may have a bumpy or textured surface, but if the overall feel is still relatively smooth, toads will generally not be able to climb them.
Toads typically need plenty of uneven and obvious surface features for grip, as they may use their pointy fingers to grip surfaces and climb if necessary. However, toads are not good climbers unlike tree frogs and will generally avoid climbing walls, but may dig underneath them if necessary.
Can Toads Climb Glass?
Toads primarily use surface features for cases where they can climb, such as holes, crevices, bumps, and textures. Since glass surfaces such as sliding doors or windows have no traction or texture for grip, toads will not be able to climb these areas.
Tree frogs often get into various odd spaces due to their climbing abilities, and homeowners can struggle to keep them out since they often climb glass surfaces. However, this ability is primarily due to their unique feet. Since toads do not have toe pads made for climbing, they cannot climb glass.
Can Toads Climb Trees?
Most toads cannot climb up trees, but they can easily climb over the base of trees. Bark often has various bumps and indentations that the toads can use for grip. However, toads that can climb over small stubs, branches, and roots cannot climb up trees. Toads do not have bodies made to traverse great heights like tree frogs can.
Toads may climb over ground-level tree branches or roots along their route to finding food and shelter like the one I found in the image above. It was hopping along its way to find food and came across a tree stump. The toad climbed over the stump by gripping to the bark and moss.
Ground-level rocks, stumps, dirt mounds, and other uneven surfaces along a toad’s path generally represent the extent of their climbing needs. Uneven, natural surfaces are easy for them to traverse. However, toads do not climb smooth surfaces like many tree frogs can.
Why Can’t Toads Climb High?
Since toads are ground-dwelling creatures, they are not equipped with the bodily components necessary for climbing proficiently. They generally have short and stubby front and hind limbs, which are not made for climbing, or holding their body weight on vertical surfaces.
Notable features also include the lack of padded toes and feet, which are predominantly used by arboreal frog species as these pads enable a suction-like function while climbing. Toads are generally more adept at manipulating the ground, such as soil, sand, or dry and loose terrain.
As a result, they are equipped with claw-like fingers, which can be used to burrow and dig into the ground (CTNF). In some cases, these claw-like fingers can also be used for climbing, as the toads can use their long and robust fingers for grip depending on the surface in question.
However, since the toads rely on their fingers ’ strength and the grip held onto surface protrusions, they cannot climb very high. Toads also cannot hold this grip for lengthy timeframes, unlike tree frogs which cling to surfaces with ease, and they have to return to the ground after a relatively short time frame.
Most frogs are likely to climb up a surface to evade dangers or maneuver around obstacles. However, toads do not utilize the same approaches since they cannot climb or jump high in most scenarios. They generally try to find alternative routes on the ground or dig their way around the obstacle.
How To Stop Toads From Climbing Into Your Backyard
Many amphibian enthusiasts love having toads on their property, as they can aid the environment by eating pests and rodents. But, keeping toads off of private property is extremely important for many households, especially concerning the threat of toxicity for beloved pets and family members.
Some toad species, such as the Cane Toad, are extremely invasive and pose risks to surrounding wildlife. This means that their presence can pose serious risks for small backyard ecosystems. Thankfully, keeping Cane Toads and other toad species at safe distances is relatively straightforward since they cannot climb very well.
However, their other skills will also need considerations when toad-proofing the residence. Consider the following when preventing toads from entering the property:
- Establish solid, tight, and smooth fencing around the property
- The fence should be at least 20 inches in height since toads cannot climb that high
- Make the fence 20 inches deep at least since toads can burrow under barriers in many cases
- Toads are attracted to leaf piles, shrubs, grass, branches, rocks, and logs
- Plastic window covers and grills on window wells can keep toads out
Toads can end up in strange locations by accident, even though it may seem that they have climbed and made their way in intentionally. These situations can be incredibly dangerous for toads, as they are generally unable to climb to their escape and can die by being stuck.
How to Deal With Climbing Toads
Regardless of how frustrating intrusive toads may be, they are only innocent creatures in need of shelter and safety. All toads should be treated with respect, and they should be relocated or handled based on laws depending on the species. When removing toads from the premises, always consult local Wildlife Departments, and follow the processes recommended by qualified professionals.
Learn more about how to safely deal with toads in your yard on our blog:
- How to Get Rid of Cane Toads
- Guide: Safely Catch And Hold Frogs & Toads
- Toads in Your Window Well: Why & What to Do
Hudson, Cameron & Brown, Gregory & Shine, Richard. (2016). Athletic anurans: The impact of morphology, ecology and evolution on climbing ability in invasive cane toads. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 119. n/a-n/a. 10.1111/bij.12827.