Catching frogs can be a fun experience, but it is very important to consider how to protect yourself and the animal in the process.
As a general rule, avoid picking up frogs if possible since they can carry salmonella or be poisonous. If you need to pick up a frog or a toad, wear gloves, wet your hands, scoop it up, and support it under its arms. Do not squish it around its belly since this can damage its internal organs.
Seeing frogs can be cool, and it can be tempting to pick one up. Although it is generally safe to pick up frogs and toads, you need to protect yourself and the frog.
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Let’s have a look at how to safely catch, hold and release frogs (or toads), why it may pee on you, and what to do if it does.
1. Wash Your Hands First
I sometimes get the question: what happens if you touch a frog? Touching a frog may result in the frog attempting to escape by jumping away, or cause it stress due to fear. The frog may urinate as a defense mechanism used to deter predators.
If you really want to touch a frog, you should have clean hands. Frog skin is semi-permeable because frogs drink and breathe through their skin which is very delicate. Any oils, dirt, lotions, dead skin, or bacteria on your hands can disrupt the frog’s vital functions.
For the safety of the animal, wash your hands right before touching a frog, or at the very least, before you start searching for one:
- Find a faucet and turn on warm water.
- Pump some soap onto your hands and rub the hands together to get a lather.
- Make sure the soap gets all over the front and back of your hands and in between your fingers.
- You should wash your hands for a total of at least 20 seconds.
- Wash off all the soap since soap residues can penetrate the frogs’ skin.
- Dry your hands thoroughly with a towel or air dryer.
Washing your hands well will help protect the frog you are about to pick up. Try not to touch anything between washing your hands and touching the frog. That way, you can keep from picking up bacteria or dirt along the way.
2. Wear Gloves to Pick Up The Frog if Possible
If you have gloves, wear them. Gloves can protect you and the frog. All animals can carry viral, bacterial, and fungal diseases frog’s very delicate skin diseases contagious to humans, and some frogs and toads are poisonous. Wearing gloves not only can protect the frog from your skin’s oils, but also protect yourself from the frog’s potential bacteria or poison.
Here are some types of new or clean pairs of gloves you could wear to safely pick up a frog:
- Medical-grade gloves
- New plastic gloves
- Gardening gloves
Avoid wearing the following kinds of gloves that could irritate the frog’s skin:
- Aluminized gloves
- Powdered gloves
- Winter gloves
- Textile gloves
Dirty gloves used on man-made items like a car may have harsh chemicals, oils, and other synthetic debris that could be detrimental to the frog.
Also, avoid gloves with holes in them that defeat the purpose of protecting yourself and the frog. Make sure the gloves are new and clean. If you do not have access to a clean pair of gloves, you can skip to #3 but if it is possible, try to find a pair of new clean gloves to wear.
3. Get Your Hands Wet Before Handling The Frog
Aquatic frogs need to live in water to stay hydrated to be able to breathe and drink. If a frog gets too dehydrated, its skin may no longer be able to absorb water and it could die. There are two vitally important things you can do to help reduce the frog’s stress when picking it up: wet your hands or place mud in your hands.
Bring a bottle full of clean water (filtered if possible) and wet your hands with it before picking up the frog. This will help protect the frog’s skin and act as lubrication while you hold it. If you do not have access to water, scoop some wet mud into your hands where you find the frog. This will create a natural barrier between your hand and the frog providing the frog some hydration and familiarity with its environment.
Frogs do not like to be picked up or handled. Getting your hands wet can help reduce their stress and help avoid their instinctive reaction to pee (we will discuss that in more detail later on in this article). Also be sure that no children or predators including pets are in the area before picking up the frog.
4. Carefully Scoop Up The Frog
Once you find the frog, you can attempt to pick it up. Make sure you are both in a safe place that won’t compromise your safety or the frog. For example, avoid standing at the end of a ledge, or right by the water where you could fall in.
Here is how to safely catch and hold a frog:
- Make sure your hands are wet
- Scoop your hand under the frog without pinching its skin
- Let it fall into one hand and place your other and above it like a dome
- For large frogs (American Bullfrogs): Slide down the dome hand to hold its hind legs
Once you have the frog in your hand, here are some things not to do:
- Do not panic and drop the frog
- Do not squish the frog’s belly
- Do not hold it too tight
- Do not panic if it pees on you
Dropping the frog, squishing its belly (vital organs), or holding it too tight can kill the frog. Do not be surprised if the frog decides to pee on you.
Both frogs and toads pee as a reflex when they feel stressed or in danger. It is a defense mechanism they use against predators. Peeing is their way of telling you they want to be put back down.
5. Scoop Up The Frog With a Net Instead
Using a net to pick up a frog can be a much safer way to handle a frog both for you and the animal to avoid too much contact. If your goal is to move frogs out of your yard, or toads out of your window well, this can be a solution to consider.
Here is how you could pick up a frog with a net:
- Get a tight-knit net
- Dip it in filtered water or in the pond where the frog is located to get it wet
- Scoop up the frog
- Place your hand under the net to support the frog
You can get a tight-knit net at most Dollar Stores in North America. For those located in Europe, the store Action probably carries these kinds of low-cost products. You could also find one on Amazon. The important thing is that the net is not knit too wide. Do not use a fishing net that has large holes that could trap the frog. Try to find a small net that is tight-knit like a butterfly net.
6. Observe and Respond to The Frog’s Instincts
You may be lucky and have picked up a bold frog that is in the mood to be observed by a human today. But that is a very rare occurrence. Most frogs get into flight mode when a human picks them up. You should listen to the frog, look for signs and respond accordingly.
- If the frog pees on you put it down as safely. They weren’t comfortable with the situation, and you don’t want to make things worse for them or for them or you.
- Toads can emit toxins through their skin as a form of self-defense, and that can affect you. Even if you don’t feel or see anything on your skin, look at the toad. If it looks annoyed or is trying to escape, safely let it go.
Put the frog or toad down safely and let it be. Holding an Anura can be great, but it’s not worth compromising your safety or the animals.
7. Release The Frog in a Safe Place Under 1 Hour
Release the frog where you found it, or 25 meters (80 feet) but under 100m (330 feet) from where it was found in under 60 minutes. Choose a shaded, safe area to leave the frog, far away from predators.
If you are moving the frog out of your yard, move it to its original body of water under 100m from where you found it. Do not move the frog to another area of town. The frog will try to find their way back and will more than likely die in the process, especially if they have to cross a road. If you are relocating a frog, please read our guide on the topic since doing so may be illegal in your area.
To release the frog:
- Go to where you found the frog
- Bend down to the ground
- Do not open your hands until you have made it to the ground
- Open your hands to release the frog
Make sure to be close to the ground before allowing the frog to jump out since it could injure itself if it is too high. Do not handle the frog for too long since this will stress the animal.
If you are relocating it, do so in under one hour. If you are holding it to observe it, try not to hold it for more than 5 to 10 minutes.
8. Wash Your Hands Again After Touching The Frog
After handling and releasing the frog, wash your hands. Do this even if you were wearing gloves since you may have inadvertently touched the inside of the glove and could spread bacteria if you do not wash your hands. Be sure to follow the same procedure as you did before you touched the frog. Give yourself 20 seconds to wash your hands completely.
If a frog pees on you, you should wash your hands as soon as possible. While the pee may not be annoying to you, you don’t want to walk around with it in your hands. Toad pee may also be a sign that the toad also secreted toxins through its skin which can be lethal to pets.
Even if neither of those occurs, toads can carry parasites and bacteria, and those can affect you if they get into your system. Do not touch your face or other surfaces after handling a frog or taking off your gloves. If you touch your eyes or face before washing your hands, the pee, toxins, or parasites could get into your body.
9. Take Care of Yourself
Over the next day or two observe yourself, even if you washed your hands well, watch for and record any symptoms you have. If you feel okay after a day or two, you probably don’t need to worry about having handled the frog or toad.
If you start having symptoms, contact your pharmacist, doctor or go to the emergency room if necessary. While you may be able to treat mild symptoms at home, you don’t want to risk it with severe issues. Calling your doctor or a doctor on call can help you decide what to do.
Make sure to do what your doctor recommends so that you can get yourself back on track in the rare event something happens (CTNF).
Get Rid of Frogs
We have a detailed guides on how to keep frogs off your property. Definitely check them out for more specific advice. Here are some more things you can do to get rid of frogs and keep them off your property depending on where you found them:
- Toads in Your Window Well: Why & What to Do
- 11 Ways to Keep Frogs Out of Your Pool
- How to Safely Remove Frogs From Your Pool
- How to Safely Relocate Frogs
- How to Find a Lost Frog in Your Home
- How to Get Rid of Frogs Without Killing Them
- How to Get Rid of Cane Toads
Capture The Frog in a Picture Instead
While it isn’t unsafe to touch a frog or a toad, you should avoid picking them up if possible. Both toads and frogs are delicate creatures that do not like to be handled by humans.
Instead, you can start off a ways away from the toad, such as on a trail. Use a camera or phone to zoom in on the toad if you want to see it up close. You can inch closer if you want to see the toad even better. If you get closer, try to move as slowly as possible and be quiet. That way, you can keep from disturbing the toad and making it move away from you.
Get as close as you can so that you can get a good picture. Later, you’ll be able to look back at the picture and remember the experience. If you can’t get that close, consider using a better camera with the ability to zoom in more to still get a good shot.
Related Questions About Safely Catching Frogs
What to Do if The Frog Pees on You? Generally, if a frog pees on you it is trying to defend itself so safely put the frog down in a safe place away from predators, do not touch your face or other surfaces, wash your hands with soap and water, and watch yourself for any symptoms over the next few days.
Can Toad Pee Give You Warts? Generally, toads cannot give you warts since warts are a viral infection that toads do not carry. However, toads can secrete poison or pee on you as a method of self-defense so it is very important to not touch your face or other surfaces, wash your hands with soap and water after touching a toad.
How to Hold a Frog? Hold a frog by letting its underarms lay between your thumb and index finger with its belly in the palm of your hand. You can also hold large frogs by the legs with your other hand. Do not squeeze its stomach since this can damage its internal organs.
Ontario Species at Risk Handling Manual: For Endangered Species Act, Authorization Holders