Can Frogs Hurt Themselves If They Fall?

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Frogs are undeniably agile, flexible, and adaptive creatures but they are still susceptible to hurting themselves if they fall. Frogs are capable of withstanding a wide variety of environments and conditions, but they are not immune to the laws of gravity.

Based on observations in the wild, average size and weight, tree frogs can generally fall 4 – 6 feet, aquatic frogs 2 – 4 feet, and toads 1 – 2 feet with little to no injury. Depending on species, fall height, weight, readiness, and fall surface, frogs may be fine, hurt, have broken limbs, or die.

Although it’s widely believed that frogs are immune to fall damage, this is not exactly the case. While they are incredibly talented at surviving various situations, an unintentional fall can still lead to serious injury or death. A number of factors can make frogs susceptible to hurt themselves if they fall.

Frogs Can Survive a Fall if Certain Conditions Are Met

The odds of injury or fatality depend on numerous variables, such as the frog species, fall distance, frog weight, the surface it falls onto, and whether or not the frog had prepared itself for its landing. When frogs fall unintentionally or from high places, they may not be able to land properly and could suffer injuries.

Let’s have a look at each of these fall conditions in more detail:

  • Species: Arboreal frogs tend to be more immune to lethal falls compared to aquatic frogs or toads as they are very light and are naturally accustomed to leaping from great heights in the wild.
  • Fall Distance: Based on observations in the wild, tree frogs can generally fall 4 – 6 feet and suffer little to no injuries. Based on general size and weight, aquatic frogs can generally fall 2 – 4 feet and toads 1 – 2 feet without injury. But, survival and injury greatly depends on the environmental conditions, the reason for the fall, and the a proper landing. 
  • Frog Weight: Heavier terrestrial frogs may be less likely to survive great falls, as their bodies are not necessarily designed for landing from tall heights. For example, toads do not jump high, are generally heavier than tree frogs, and therefore have a greater risk of injury if they fall.
  • Surface: If the frog falls into water or grass, there are less chances of injury compared to falling onto rocks or sharp surfaces. The frog could fall onto something sharp and die by impaling itself.
  • Level of Preparation For the Fall: No matter the height the frog falls from, if it is not at all prepared to land their risk of hurting themselves is much higher. There is a massive difference between a frog intentionally leaping to a location and a frog falling with little to no control of the outcome. In some cases, a frog may only fall a few feet and suffer injuries if it was not prepared.

These little creatures are much tougher than they appear, and their natural traits provide them with some level of resistance to gravity. However, they still have limitations and feelings. No matter how compulsive humanity’s curiosity may be, frogs should always be handled with caution and treated with respect.

Common Reasons for Frogs Falling

In the wild, frogs may fall by accident or while trying to escape a predator. But a common way frogs hurt themselves is when interacting with humans.

Avoiding Predators Can Cause Frogs to Fall

Frogs may fall from high points while they attempt to escape from predators nearby. While trying to escape danger, frogs may panic or leap away and fall as a result. This is especially common for arboreal frogs compared to aquatic or terrestrial species, as their habitats naturally risk falling from higher places. 

Some frog species cannot hop and use falling tactics to escape danger or transport themselves quickly. However, some frogs can prepare for tough falls like the one in the video above that tenses up its muscles to brace itself for impact on their way down a mountain.

Human Handling Can Cause Frogs to Fall

Human handling is the most common reason for frog falls when interacting with humans. When humans handle frogs improperly, the frogs may become agitated, afraid, or nervous. These conditions can lead to them leaping out of desperation or falling to the ground. Handlers need to be calm, gentle, and firm (without squishing them) while holding frogs to ensure they cannot fall or leap out of grasp and hurt themselves in the process. 

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While it’s great to know that a frog will likely be fine if it stumbles out of its enclosure, it’s best not to take chances. Some frog owners have witnessed their cherished frogs being forced to endure the troubles of injured legs for the rest of their lives. It’s important to understand how to handle frogs properly, as human handling is the most common cause of frog falls and related injuries. 

Frog Rain Can Cause Frogs to Fall

Generally, frogs weigh only a few ounces, and they sometimes get swept up by waterspouts, strong winds, and other harsh weather conditions, and then fall from the sky once the pressure drops, frequently accompanied by rain. This phenomenon is called Frog Rain and is a case where frogs can fall from the sky at extreme heights (CTNF).

The chances of survival are influenced by the distance of travel, the drop to the ground, and other factors as described above. The frogs that have fallen from the sky have mostly been common and non-toxic frogs, making it easy for onlookers to rescue survivors. Although, the frogs have managed to take care of themselves in many instances, quickly hopping off in frantic search of their native water source. 

Common Frog Fall Injuries

The most common injuries due to falling or leaping from great heights include:

Some cases may be more optimistic, with the chance of full recovery. But, there is also the chance that the precious little frog may never be the same. While frogs are not tiny, they are generally small and light enough for this law of physics to be on their side.

Instead of dropping to the ground at high speeds and crash-landing, frogs hit cruising speed as they fall to the ground. As a result, they are often able to right themselves and prepare for a safe landing.

Thomas Barbour and Philip Darlington researched frog fall distance and damage in the 1930s by dropping frogs from a multistory building’s roof onto grass. Darlington tossed the frogs off the roof one at a time while Barbour witnessed the results below. Barbour reported that each frog appeared to be dead after the experiment. 

However, after a few minutes, the ground was covered with confused but otherwise unscathed frogs. They began hopping in different directions, providing a happy ending to a dreadful experiment. Although, the ground below was adorned with lush grass, which undoubtedly softened the frogs’ landings to some degree.

Common Questions About Frogs Falling

Can Frogs Die From Falling? Frogs can die from falling in extreme conditions. A primary example is frog rain, where hundreds or thousands of frogs fall from the sky after being carried in the atmosphere by winds. Depending ont the species and where they land, they may survive or die.

Why Frogs Can Survive Falls? Frogs can cope with falls better than many other animals due to their weight. Small animals accelerate more slowly during the fall, meaning that the speed of the fall is less and the impact on the ground is lessened as well. 

Sources

Museum of Comparative Zoology Newsletter, Harvard. University I 3 (Spring, I 984)