What Do Frog Feet Look Like?

It may come to you as a surprise but not all frog feet look the same. Depending on the species, some frogs live in trees, on land, or in water, and therefore have bodies and feet adapted to thrive in their ideal environment.

Aquatic frogs have webbed feet and long powerful legs to help them jump and swim. Arboreal frogs have padded toes on their feet to help them stick to vegetation and facilitate climbing. And terrestrial frogs (toads) have finger-like toes made for digging.

Up close images of frog feet and toes

Frogs have 18 toes: 4 toes on both front feet, and 5 toes on their hind feet. Frog toes may be webbed (aquatic frogs), padded (arboreal frogs), or finger-like (terrestrial frogs).

Let’s have a look at each of these types of frog feet and toes that empower them to thrive in their natural habitat.

Aquatic Frogs Have Webbed Feet For Swimming

As a general rule, frogs with webbed feet are powerful swimmers that live in water. Frogs with webbed feet like American Bullfrogs can quickly swim away from predators.

Frogs that live in water (aquatic frogs) tend to have webbed feet which act like flippers that propel them in the water.

Having webbed toes allows aquatic frogs to have more velocity and swim faster by pushing the water behind them with more force and volume.

Aquatic frog with webbed feet

Many frogs only have webbing on their hind feet only. Others have webbing on both their hind feet and front feet.

African Dwarf Frogs have webbing on all their feet since they are fully aquatic frogs.

Examples of Frogs with webbed feet include American Bullfrogs, Leopard Frogs, Pig Frogs, Pickerel Frogs, Tarahumara Frog, Common Frogs, African Dwarf Frogs, and Columbia Spotted Frogs.

Arboreal Frogs Have Padded Toes For Climbing

Arboreal frogs, or tree frogs, tend to have feet with sticky pads on each toe. These pads allow allow them to stick to bark, branches, and leaves. Tree Frogs generally are excellent climbers.

Tree frogs may have long fingers allowing them to wrap around vegetation and hold in place.

Arboreal frog with padded toes

Tree Frogs toes act like suction cups that stick to smooth surfaces. They generally have small, light bodies that allow them to stick to leaves without falling.

Tree Frogs are often found on people’s doors and windows because they can easily stick to glass.

Examples of Tree Frogs with padded toes include Spring Peeper, Australian Tree Frogs, Gray Tree Frogs, Red-Eyed Tree Frogs, Holarctic Tree Frogs, and White-Lipped Tree Frogs.

Toads Have Fingers Made For Digging

Terrestrial frogs (toads) have feet with finger-like, pointed or spaded digits, allowing them to be excellent diggers. Toads do not climb, swim or jump very well since their legs are short, but their fingers and toes allow them to dig and crawl.

Toad with spaded digits

Toads dig backwards using their hind feet to push dirt out of the way, left and right, until they gradually dig themselves into a hole and can burrow in the moist ground.

This helps them stay cool, humid, and avoid predators during the day.

A little toad I found with spaded yellow feet

Spadefoot Toads also have a distinct long, claw-like middle spade on their hind feet made for digging.

Some toad species may have some webbing on their hind feet for swimming.

But most toads are better at digging than at swimming.

Toads tend to crawl or hop to go from one location to another.

Examples of frogs with finger-like toes include Common European Toads (Bufo Bufo), Spadefoot Toads, Great Plains Toads, Cane Toads, Yosemite Toads, American Toads and Canadian Toads.

Some Frogs Have Webbed Feet For Flying

Flying Frogs generally jump from trees and float in the air until they reach their destination thanks to the webbing between their toes. They do not actually fly like birds, but can glide after a powerful jump thanks to their webbed feet. 

Flying Frogs jump from tree to tree to avoid predators and sometimes have to “fly” or glide to get there.

In order to do so, they spread open their webbed feet to glide and direct their movement, and use them like a parachute to land safely.

Examples of Flying Frogs include Wallace’s Flying Frog, Malabar Gliding Frog, Rhacophorus Reinwardtii, Chinese flying frog, Malayan Flying Frogs, and Rhacophorus Pseudomalabaricus (CTNF).

These frogs are often found in the rainforest.

Some Frogs Have Webbed “Claws”

Some frogs have what look like “claws”, or “strange smooth feet”, that are actually long digits attached by webbing. Clawed Frogs use their feet to swim and break up their food.

African Clawed Frogs have three short “claws” on each hind foot. These frogs use their feet to look for food and eat by scooping food into their mouths and pushing it down their throat.

African Clawed Frog Feet

African Clawed Frogs also use the claws on their feet to rip apart large food. Clawed Frogs are completely aquatic and cannot live long outside of water.

Examples of Clawed Frogs include African Clawed Frogs, African Dwarf Frogs, Silurana, Müller’s Platanna, Marsabit Clawed Frogs, Volcano Clawed Frogs, and Western Clawed Frogs.

Frog Tadpoles Have Tiny Feet

Frog tadpoles have tiny feet that develop in the later stages of their tadpole metamorphosis. But tadpoles do not use their feet to swim and rely on their tails until they become froglets 14 to 16 weeks after transforming from their eggs. 

Tiny frog tadpole feet

Look at those tiny tadpole feet, aren’t they cute! 🙂

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Hand-drawn sketches of what frog feet look like depending on the type of frog

Common Questions About Frog Feet

Do Frogs Have Feet Or Paws? Frogs have feet that can be webbed, padded, fingered or spaded, whereas animals that have claws and pads, like cats and dogs, have paws. Depending on the species, frogs’ feet allow them to swim, climb or dig.

What Is The Function Of Feet For Frog? Frogs feet can be webbed for swimming or flying, padded for climbing, or spaded for digging. Frogs have feet that are configured differently and have different functions depending on the species and their habitat.

What Do Frog Feet Look Like? As a general rule, aquatic frog feet look like flippers with four toes on each hind foot attached by webbing. Arboreal frog feet look like fingers with suction cups on the end for climbing. And toad feet look like claws made for digging.

How Many Toes Do Frogs Have? As a general rule, frog’s front feet have 4 toes each, and their back feet have 5 toes each. Frog’s toes may be attached by webbing, or separate and spaded or padded with suction-like cups for climbing.

What Kind Of Frog Has Webbed Feet? Frogs that have webbed feet include Bullfrogs, Leopard Frogs, Pig Frogs, Pickerel Frogs, Tarahumara Frog, Common Frogs, Blanchard’s Cricket Frog, and Columbia Spotted Frogs.

Sources

Tinsley, R.; Minter, L.; Measey, J.; Howell, K.; Veloso, A.; Núñez, H. & Romano, A. (2009). “Xenopus laevis”. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2009: e.T58174A11730010. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2009.RLTS.T58174A11730010.en.