Are Frogs And Toads Different?

When I was a kid I loved toads, but I always got frog-related gifts on my birthday. Everybody knows what a frog is, but few people know why toads are any different. Too often, the words frog and toad are used interchangeably, yet they are not the same species.

All toads are frogs, yet frogs and toads are not the same species. Both frogs and toads are amphibians of the order of Anura, but toads live on land, aquatic frogs live in water, toads crawl and hop, frogs swim and jump, and all toads are poisonous, contrary to frogs.

Frogs and toads are both amphibians of the order of Anura, and they share many of the same characteristics. They reproduce by amplexus and spawn in water during mating season. Both toads and frogs may consume bugs and small rodents depending on their size. Yet they are very different animals.

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Let me explain how toads and frogs are different since most of the similarities between the two species are generally very evident to most.

Toads Live in Different Places Than Frogs

Aquatic frogs live in water, and arboreal frogs generally live near or in trees close to a body of water. However, toads live on land and spend most of the day burrowed underground. Toads generally do not require direct access to water at all times like most aquatic or arboreal frogs.

Although both frogs and toads lay their eggs in water, frogs generally live closer to bodies of water and require water for their habitat. Frogs typically dwell near lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, marshes, swamps, or bogs, whether they live in the highlands or a tropical jungle. Aquatic frogs require proximity to a source of water. Aquatic frogs spend a significant amount of time sitting and breathing in water during the day (CTNF).

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Although they dwell in trees, most arboreal frogs need constant access to water. Spring Peepers, for example, are tiny tree frogs that reside in fishless ponds. Although they live in trees, they require direct access to water to flourish (CTNF).

Toads, on the other hand, do not require as much access to water. Toads are most commonly found in dry environments such as meadows or fields and are often found in people’s yards. Toads also require dirt, muck, or dark, concealed, damp places to burrow inside their environment.

Toads spend most of their time underground, in holes where they can breathe, drink, keep hydrated, and escape predators during the day. Toads are most active at night when they hunt. 

Toads Move Differently Compared to Frogs

Toads have clawed feet, warty, stubby bodies, and shorter limbs compared to aquatic and arboreal frogs. Therefore, toads crawl, dig, and hop very well, but cannot jump, swim, or climb like aquatic or arboreal frogs.

Toads have claw-like fingers that are fairly long with what looks like a fingernail, tough skin, or claws to help them dig. Toads have stubby, strong hind legs, which, combined with their pointy toes, makes them excellent at digging. 

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Toads usually crawl or hop from one location to another, whereas frogs leap, swim, or climb. Depending on the species, most frogs can jump or swim. As a result, aquatic frogs often have webbed toes that help them push through the water, while arboreal frogs have cushioned toes to assist them in climbing trees and adhering to leaves. Toads are not good swimmers or climbers due to their anatomy.

Toads Spawn is Different From Frogs

Although toads and frogs generally reproduce the same ways, toads do not remain where they were born after they become toadlets, and generally leave the body of water to live on land, only to return once they reach sexual maturity in order to reproduce.

Toads, like frogs, are born in water but migrate to land when they pass the tadpole stage. They only return to the water where they were born to breed once they reach adulthood. Toads generally only reproduce in the body of water where they were born. 

Frog Lifecycle-min
Frog Eggs: Clusters

Although toads and frogs breed by amplexus, toads deposit eggs in strings, and frogs lay eggs in clusters. Toad eggs create strings when they cling together in lines, while frogspawn forms massive clusters when it sticks together to attach to plants (CTNF).

All Toads Are Poisonous

Toads are poisonous because they have parotid glands behind their eyes on their backs that can release toxins at different levels of toxicity depending on the toad species. Toads use their poison as a form of protection against predators.

Although all toads are poisonous to pets including cats and dogs, not all toads are poisonous to humans. Some toad toxins can be harmful to humans, whereas others can be fatal. The degree of toxicity depends on the species. You can learn more about which toads are toxic in our guide.

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However, most frogs that you can find in North America are not toxic. The Rainforest is home to many well-known, highly poisonous frogs. Poison Dart Frogs are tiny, primary-colored frogs that utilize their hue to alert attackers that they should not eat them. Golden Poison Dart Frogs have enough poison to kill 10 men.

That being said, frogs and toads also have different skin. Frogs have smooth, wet, slimy skin, but toads have rough, dry, warty skin. Despite their tough and dry skin, they breathe and drink through it like frogs and require moisture to thrive. Also, frogs have teeth, but toads do not have teeth. Neither species generally bite, and only two frogs are known to be venomous.

Toads Have A Longer Lifespan Than Frogs

Some toad species may survive in captivity for up to 40 years, but most frogs can live in captivity for 10 to 30 years, depending on the species. In their native habitat, most wild frogs survive just 3-6 years.

The anticipated lifetime of a frog varies depending on its species, predators, habitat, environment, water quality, and food availability. Toads may survive for a long time in captivity if all of their needs are satisfied. Toads in captivity are less likely to encounter predators and have a higher survival rate.

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Frogs and toads seldom interact, and when they do, they are not necessarily friendly. This is because they belong to separate families, each with specific habitats, and they might potentially harm one another through illnesses or predation.

Frogs and toads are both known to be independent and sometimes hostile. Their hostility can be directed against other frogs and toads and their prey and other animal species. Aggressive tendencies in frogs and toads are often increased during breeding seasons (CTNF).

More About Toads And Frogs

Frogs and toads are both exciting creatures that are both similar and distinct. They are both vital components of ecosystems. I think toads are awesome and it is too bad that people often confuse them with frogs or treat them like they are gross. Toads are so fun to observe in their natural habitat as they awkwardly hop around and snatch up bugs.

Learn more about toads and frogs on our blog:

Common Questions About Toads And Frogs

What is the difference between a frog and a toad? As a general rule, toads live on land, aquatic frogs live in water, toads crawl and hop, frogs swim and jump, and all toads are poisonous, contrary to frogs.

Can frogs or toads hurt you? Frogs and toads generally cannot hurt you physically with a bite or even by peeing on you, but they may hurt you if you ingest a toad’s toxins or any viral or bacterial diseases that may be present on their skin.

Should you touch frogs? You should avoid touching frogs because frogs do not like to be touched, they can hurt themselves if they are picked up, toads can produce toxins on their skin, and frogs and toads may carry viral or bacterial diseases.