With frog legs on the rise as a popular and tasty dish, exotic meat markets and restaurants are buying frogs from all over the world to serve them to experienced and curious customers alike.
However, only a few types of frogs are truly edible, as most species are either too small or dangerous to be worthwhile to the consumer.
Out of 7,500 known species, generally there are only a few types of frogs that are consumed including Bullfrogs, Leopard Frogs, Javan Giant Frogs, Edible Frogs, and Anatolian Water Frogs. Generally only the legs are eaten. You can eat frog legs in France, Turkey, Indonesia, and the South of the USA.
There are other types of frogs that you can eat safely, but these are the frogs that are most commonly consumed around the world.
As the market for frog legs grows, more and more people are starting to hunt, farm and eat different varieties of frogs.
Let’s have a look at what there is to know about eating frogs, including what parts are fit for consumption and ways they can be served.
For those of you who love frogs and hate that we have this article on our blog, keep in mind that people are going to eat frogs no matter your personal beliefs. Our goal is to meet them where they are and help them make better choices in their consumption. Thanks for understanding.
1. American Bullfrogs Are Eaten in North America
American Bullfrogs are generally eaten in North America because they have a lot of meat and can grow up to 10 inches (25 cm) in length making them the largest frog on the content. Only 2 or 3 Bullfrogs are needed to make 1 pound of frog leg meat that can serve up to two people.
Most frogs are only an inch or two in length making them unsuitable for eating – there just isn’t anything to eat!
But American Bullfrogs can be very large measuring between 7 in and 10 inches (18 to 25 cm) when fully extended.
American Bullfrogs are the among the most commonly farmed frog for consumption because of their large size and great taste.
Interestingly enough, many places consider them to be quite the pest because these amphibians will eat anything and they reproduce in huge quantities.
In fact, a single female American Bullfrog can lay as many as 20,000 eggs and they are an invasive species in some locations.
Because of their large appetite and fast breeding habits, American Bullfrogs can be dangerous to the ecology wherever they are introduced.
They have wreaked havoc on many environments as they have few predators that can handle the speed at which they reproduce and their ability to quickly hide from under water.
Hunting and eating bullfrogs is done, in part, to control their populations.
Because they can be invasive and reproduce quickly, consuming local American Bullfrogs is a better choice in North America at the moment. Try to prioritize eating ethically hunted American Bullfrog legs over other species as a consumer located in Canada or the USA.
2. You Can Eat Northern & Southern Leopard Frogs
The only other frog eaten in North America, Northern Leopard Frog, grows only about 3 to 5 inches long (2 to 12 cm) and has leopard-like spots across their backs and legs.
Therefore, there is not much meat to eat on these frogs, but they are widespread along the Eastern Atlantic regions of North America and are often consumed in these locations.
Leopard Frogs can be found in ponds and marshes.
However, the most common place to find a Northern Leopard Frog is in a high school science lab!
That is right, that frog you dissected in High School was likely a Northern Leopard Frog.
The Northern Leopard Frogs population has been on the decline for decades, though the species is not in immediate danger in most places, it is not far from becoming endangered in many locations.
They have been over-harvested for dissections and consumption.
Because of their use for dissections and consumption, these frogs are highly harvested (though not yet officially considered endangered). Look at where your frog legs are coming from and try to avoid Leopard Frog legs and prefer American Bullfrog legs instead if you are located in North America.
3. Javan Giant Frogs Are a Popular Dish in Indonesia
Javan Giant Frogs are native to Indonesia but are eaten around the world, especially in France and Belgium.
This is because Indonesia is the world’s largest exporter of frog legs, shipping out thousands of tons of frog meat every year.
These frogs aren’t as large as American Bullfrogs as they never grow larger than 5 or 6 inches long (12 to 15 cm).
Because of their smaller size, they are mostly cooked in stews or served as a side dish rather than deep-fried and served as a main meal.
Javan Giant Frogs are rarely farmed like American Bullfrogs but are rather hunted and sold on international markets.
Their natural habitat is the small rivers and streams in Indonesia where they are hunted.
These rivers and streams have been steadily growing more contaminated and polluted over the years, which is causing a decline in their populations (CTNF).
Because of the huge quantity that are hunted and exported and the quality of the water they live, in Javan Giant Frogs are endangered and facing extinction. They are also inhumanly killed in some places and should be avoided by international consumers. Look at where your frog legs are coming from and avoid Indonesia imports as much as possible.
4. Common Water Frogs (AKA Edible Frogs)
Common Frogs are also known as Edible Frogs since they are often consumed in Europe where they can be found in marshes and ponds.
They measure 2 to 5 inches (5 to 11 cm) from snout to vent, so they are not as large or provide as much meat as American Bullfrogs, but are still large enough to consume.
Edible Frogs are often consumed in France, Spain, Northern Italy, and Belgium and are a good local choice for Europeans since these frogs are not endangered and are easy to find in nature.
They can lay up to 10,000 eggs increasing their chances of survival.
Because they are not endangered and are very common in Europe, consuming local Common Water Frogs is a good choice for Europeans at the moment. Try to prioritize eating Common Water Frog legs over other species as a consumer located in Europe.
5. Anatolian Water Frogs Are Eaten in The Middle East
The Anatolian Water Frog is native to Turkey and other parts of Europe and the Middle East.
They are the largest frog in that area of the world, measuring about 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 cm) from the snout to the tailbone.
Their size means that they are the most commonly hunted and eaten frog in Turkey.
Commercial frog hunters in Turkey export over 10M frogs per year, catching hundreds of frogs per night putting huge pressure on populations.
Keep in mind in the US and Canada, daily hunting limits on American Bullfrogs for the average person varies by jurisdiction, but is generally around between 10 to 50 frogs per person per day.
Although some places may offer unlimited hunting limits on American Bullfrogs, non-commercial hunters will rarely scoop up hundreds of frogs for personal consumption.
So you can imagine how over-harvested these frogs are in parts of the Middle East.
Turkey also supplies frogs to other countries in Europe. Similarly to Indonesia, the populations of these species of frogs are at all-time lows.
In many countries, frog hunting has been banned in order to protect local species, which has made more than a few countries the main supplier of frog legs.
Because of the huge quantity that are hunted and exported, the way they are inhumanly treated and killed, Anatolian Water Frogs are endangered and facing extinction. Look at where your frog legs are coming from and avoid Anatolian Water Frogs at all costs.
Responsible Hunting & Consumption of Frog Legs
There are a few times in this article where we discussed how some frogs are becoming endangered due to hunting and overconsumption of frog legs.
Here are ways you can responsibly enjoy frog legs.
Consume Local Frog Legs
Be sure to know where the frog legs you are purchasing come from.
Since frog legs are often exported from their country of origin without their skin or body, it can be very difficult to track the actual species being sold.
Therefore, lack of regulation makes it very difficult to track the real impact on wild frogs especially if the goods were misidentified or mislabeled.
Find out Where to Purchase Frog Legs on our Blog
So you may think you are buying imported Javan Giant Frogs, but you could actually be eating something else.
Look at the labels or try to consume locally and humanly hunted frogs.
Consume Humanly Hunted Frogs
I can’t describe what I just read because it makes me sick…
But just do a quick Google search or look at the links in the Sources section of this article if you would like to know more about how horribly frogs are treated by some people looking to turn a quick profit.
Please purchase frogs that were humanly killed in sanitary places that are not overpopulated.
Frog farms that do not care for the animals increase the risk of diseases and some use disgusting pesticides you do not want to consume.
Look at the labels and avoid imported frogs.
Try to consume locally and humanly hunted frogs.
Follow Local Laws With Regards to Hunting Frogs
It can be great to consume local frogs where hunting is legal and ease pressure on local ecosystems and international trade.
If you decide you want to go out to hunt frogs, be sure to check your local and State laws with regards to capture times, limits and hunting regulations.
However, there is a limit of 20 frogs that you can capture, in aggregate per person from 12 Noon to 12 Noon the following day.
Learn more about the ecological impact of frog leg consumption in the world in this excellent detailed 2011 Report.
There Are Many Frogs You Should Not Eat
In general, many of the frogs that you find in North America are safe to eat, though only the Bullfrogs, Pig Frogs, and Leopard Frog are large enough to provide a reasonable amount of meat.
But there are some frogs you really should not eat, like poison frogs.
To Identify frogs that are poisonous, look for bright colors, which often signal to predators that they are not safe to eat.
Unlike most frogs, which stay hidden while it is light outside, poisonous frogs are typically most active during the daytime hours.
Poison frogs are more common in South America.
Toads are common in North American backyards.
Common Questions About Eating Frog Legs
Here are some common questions and answers that have to do with eating frogs:
What do Frog Legs Taste Like? Frog leg meat has the texture of chicken and tastes like white fish. Frog meat is high in protein, potassium, and other vitamins, making it a great protein choice for a meal.
Where Can You Buy Frog Legs? Frog legs can generally be purchased in gourmet markets, seafood stores, certain grocery stores, specialized restaurants, and online meat stores. Finding a reputable local hunter is also an option, provided that they use humane practices and are transparent about the frog species.
What Part of The Frog Can You Eat? Generally people only eat the hind legs of a frog. Not only do the legs have the most meat, but frog skin and organs can be dangerous to consume because of diseases they can carry like salmonella. It is best to be safe and stick to the meaty hind legs.
What Country Eats Frog Legs? Frog legs are consumed world wide in the USA (Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida), Europe (France, Spain, Belgium, Portugal, Romania), the Middle East (Turkey), Indonesia, Asia (Vietnam) and South America (Mexico, Brazil).
How do They Kill Frogs for Frog Legs? Frogs can humanly be harvested for food in some places where they are killed quickly. However, they may be harvested, hunted and killed brutally in other places where there is no regulation or consideration for the animal.
Can You Get Sick From Eating Frog Legs? Frog legs are as safe to eat as any other meat when prepared correctly. Frog legs should be throughly washed with clean water and cooked well to avoid any transmission or development of salmonella.
Why do You Soak Frog Legs in Milk? Frog legs are generally soaked in milk, buttermilk or a brine to remove any impurities, tenderize and whiten the meat. Soaking them in milk also swells the legs to a larger size. Since frog leg meat is fairly small, soaking them helps make the portions larger and juicier.
Are Frog Legs Considered Meat or Fish? Generally, frog legs are considered a type of fish and not meat since their natural habitat is water-based. Although muscle-based protein like like fish can be considered a type of meat, frog legs generally have the texture of chicken and taste like fish.
Is Bullfrog Farming Profitable? Bullfrog farms are generally financially unsuccessful. This is in part because Bullfrogs require huge amounts of live food to grow, which can be very expensive. Bullfrogs also take at least 2 years to mature, which means that you need to care for them for a long time before turning a profit.
Warkentin, I.G., Bickford, D., Sodhi, N.S. and Bradshaw, C.J., 2009. Eating frogs to extinction. Conservation Biology, 23(4), pp.1056-1059.
Gratwicke, Brian & Evans, Matthew & Jenkins, Peter & Kusrini, Mirza & Moore, Robin & Sevin, Jennifer & Wildt, David. (2009). Is the international frog legs trade a potential vector for deadly amphibian pathogens?. Frontiers in Ecology and The Environment – FRONT ECOL ENVIRON. 8. 10.1890/090111.