Do Frogs Have Personalities?

If you’ve ever met a frog, you may have been charmed by their cute faces and strange antics. Frogs are remarkable little creatures that can thrive in the wild and in captivity. But do they really have distinct personalities that can set them apart from each other? 

Frogs have personalities that generally fall into one of three groups: Cowardly, Bold, and Relaxed. Frog personalities are something that sticks with them for their entire lives from tadpole to adult. Learning about their personality is a great way to become a better frog caretaker or observer.

Every frog has a personality! This glorious information for pet owners and frog enthusiasts alike. But what do the three main frog personality types entail, and how can we know which kind of frog you have?

The three main frog personality types are Cowardly, Bold, and Relaxed. There are big differences between each kind of frog personality which frogs carry with them their entire lives.

Here is a table of a few frog species and their general personality tendencies:

Frog SpeciesDominant Personality Type
American BullfrogBold
African BullfrogsBold
Cane ToadsBold
Goliath FrogBold
Poison Dart FrogsBold
Pacman FrogsBold
Australian Green Tree FrogRelaxed
Green FrogRelaxed
Gray Tree FrogsRelaxed
Wood FrogsCowardly
Spring Peeper FrogsCowardly

Larger frog species tend to be more confident and bold compared to smaller frog species that need to protect themselves from a larger abundance of predators. Let’s have a closer look at each personality type.

1. Cowardly Frogs Tend To Hide or Play Dead

Cowardly frogs are worried. They are especially afraid of being eaten. So if something unexpected happens, they will usually try to escape, hide or play dead.

If you pick up a cowardly frog, high chances are it will pee on you. Don’t worry, it is a defense mechanism that will not give you warts. But definitely wear gloves when handling frogs and either way wash your hands if this happens.

Ways Frogs Defend Themselves Against 100s of Predators [Frog Survival]

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Generally, the smaller a frog is the more likely it is to be cowardly. Being cowardly is a defense mechanism since smaller frogs are often prey to all kinds of predators including birds, snakes, and other frogs.

However, larger frogs can sometimes have this personality type as well. Generally, the best way to tell if a frog has this personality is if they have a tendency to avoid new or unfamiliar things placed in their environment.

2. Bold Frogs Are Confident

Bold frogs are the opposite of cowardly frogs. They tend to be very curious about their surroundings, investigating each new object in their enclosure to see if it’s food.

This is the kind of frog that may hop right up to your hand and let you pick it up. They may also try to take a bite out of your finger if they think its food. Bold frogs are generally confident animals that may be friendly, or on the hunt for something to eat.

They may also be very territorial. Male American Bullfrog are quite territorial, and this can lead them to fight with other males who encroach on their space.

Larger frogs are more likely to be bold since they don’t need to worry about predators as much as small frogs. Generally speaking, the safer a frog fees, the less shy they may be.

Bold frogs are known to eat large prey including snakes, birds, bats, mice, and very large spiders.

3. Relaxed Frogs Are Chill

Relaxed frogs are happy frogs. They can be seen generally just enjoying life. You may have seen one basking in a pond shaded by lily pads for hours, just waiting for food to pass its mouth. Such frogs are often ambush predators that wait for food to come to them.

Without a care in the world, relaxed frogs are beautiful beasts that hop about their day ignoring everything that they know won’t eat them. In essence, relaxed frogs are calm, chill, and composed frogs.

Of course, these aren’t the only possible frog personalities. Some frogs may also display a mix of these three personalities and may display either of them at any time depending on their environment.

Do You Hear Crickets in Spring? May not be crickets...

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In the video above I found a Spring Peeper that was afraid and played dead! I also found a bold male frog of the same species that let me film it calling for females during mating season.

Frog Personalities as Tadpoles

Frogs spend much of their early life as a tadpole. People often change as they grow up, but what about frog tadpoles? 

Frogs actually don’t change their personality as they get older. Experiments done on tadpoles as they grow tend to show that they hardly change at all (Wald, 2012).

This means that if you’re raising a frog from tadpole to adult you can be fairly certain that their personality will not change very much. You can trust your frog to be a rock in your life even when everyone else around you is going through big changes.

Isn’t it interesting how frogs physically change so much while their personalities hardly change at all. 

The Purposes Of Frog Personalities In The Wild

Depending on the species of frog, the different personalities can serve all sorts of purposes from attracting mates to self-defense. Here are some examples of types of frogs whose personalities serve survival purposes (CTNF).

Poison Dart Frog Are Bold Frogs

Poison Dart Frogs fall solidly into the category of bold frogs, their toxins protect them from pretty much all predators, so they don’t really have any need to be cowardly.

Personality is important to Poison Dart Frogs when it comes to choosing mates. Most species of Poison Dart Frogs have elaborate mating rituals that tend to be initiated by the male frog.

This courtship ritual favors frogs who are more curious and adventurous, both because this species involves finding multiple good locations to deposit eggs and because the frogs need to be able to find one another easily

Green Frogs Can Be Very Relaxed 

I have found many a Green Frog that was relaxed and let me film it basking in the sun. You can generally get very close to them with a camera before they swim or hop away. They are curious and relaxed animals. But get t-o close and they become cowardly, which is normal.

Green Frog Marsh-min
A photo I took of a relaxed Green Frog in a marsh

They are unlikely to be bothered by what is going on around them as long as they have enough food, few predators, and shelter to hide among.

Wood Frogs Tend to Be Cowardly

Is it ever hard to observe and film Wood Frogs! I could hear them calling from very far away and decided to try to capture them on camera during mating season.

Wood Frog-min
A Wood Frog I managed to capture a photo of at a museum – couldn’t get one in the wild, yet!

But once I approached, they all fell silent. Even after sitting quietly for over 45 minutes, they did not come back out to continue their mating rituals. It was only once I was out of the area that they started calling again!

They are very smart cowardly frogs. And for a good reason. Since Wood Frogs are small, they are prey to many predatory animals.

Frog Personalities In Pop Culture

Let’s have a look at how some famous frogs in pop culture can help illustrate the different frog personalities we uncovered in this article.

  • Trevor The Frog From Harry Potter is Cowardly: Trevor is a toad that easily fits into the cowardly category. Trevor is always trying to escape from Neville, and he never really seems to feel safe even when Neville is holding him. This is classic cowardly frog behavior.
  • Both Frog and Toad From “Frog And Toad” Are Relaxed: Frog and Toad from the children’s book series “Frog and Toad” by Arnold Lobel are both very confident and relaxed frogs. Frog is a clear example of a bold frog and Toad exhibits an ability to do his own thing regardless of whether it’s embarrassing or not. These are traits of relaxed frogs. 
  • King Harold From Shrek 2 Is a Bold Frog: King Harold from Shrek 2 is an interesting case because he spends a lot of his time as a human who also happens to be King of Far Far Away. His confidence, passion, and sheer power make him a bold frog with a strong belief he is fit to rule the kingdom. 

The best way to learn more about frog personalities is to observe lots of frogs! Head out into the wild, look for frogs and try to recognize their personalities. Use our Frog Identification Chart to know which frogs you encountered.

Sources

The Characteristics of a BullfrogCuteness.com

Living with Wildlife: Frogs.Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife

Wald, Chelsea. “Changing Bodies but Not Personalities.” Sciencemagazine.org, AAAS, Aug. 2012

Willink, Beatriz, et al. “Conspicuous Displays in Cryptic Males of a Polytypic Poison-Dart Frog.” Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, vol. 68, no. 2, 2013, pp. 249–261., doi:10.1007/s00265-013-1640-4.

Daniella Master Herpetologist

Daniella is a Master Herpetologist and the founder of toadsnfrogs.com, a website dedicated to educating the general population on frogs by meeting them where they are in their online Google Search. Daniella is passionate about frogs and put her digital marketing skills and teaching experience to good use by creating these helpful resources to encourage better education, understanding, and care for frogs.