What is difference between frogs and toads? For one thing, toads have dry, warty skin, while frogs have smooth, wet skin.
Toads and frogs have many similarities, including the way they look. But there are some basic differences between them. For one thing, toads have dry, warty skin, while frogs have smooth, wet skin.
Both toads and frogs are amphibians, and belong to a class of vertebrate animals that includes salamanders. But they differ from salamanders because their bodies are short and lack tails.
What does amphibian mean exactly? It means the animal has two lives: the aquatic larval stage, known as tadpole, and the semi-aquatic or terrestrial adult stage. There are about 2,770 species of toads and frogs, some of them, like the Goliath frog of Africa, weighing as much as five pounds, and the tiny Sminthillus limbalus of Cuba, which is only a half-inch long.
Besides toads having dry, warty skin, while frogs have wet, smooth skin, there are other basic differences between them. Frogs have tiny teeth on both upper and lower jaws, while toads lack any teeth. Frogs have longer hind legs than toads. So frogs jump, while toads hop. And when it comes to laying their eggs, female toads lay them in long, parallel strings, while female frogs lay their eggs singly, in small or large clumps, on the water surface.
Both frogs and toads have voices and make a sound. Both a male toad and frog produces his call by a rapid back-and-forth movement of air over his vocal cords. And both toad and frog will close its mouth and nasal opening and force air from its lungs into the mouth, then force the air back over the vocal chords into the lungs. Because they are able to do this, it enables these animals to vocalize even under water. They use their enlarged throat or expandable vocal sac to resonate their calls.
Frogs and toads both have to return to a body of water to reproduce, usually breeding during the spring or early summer. One breed, the southern leopard frog, however, breeds during the rainy periods in the fall.
Frogs prefer to select fishless bodies of water in which to breed, since fish may eat the eggs and tadpoles. So flooded fields, ditches, small woodland ponds and any water filled depressions are favorite places. Usually, a few hardy males find an appropriate breeding pond when conditions such as temperature and humidity are right, and begin to call, hoping to entice a female to join them.
Each species of frogs and toads has a distinct breeding call. As the enticed females begin to join them, other males begin to congregate and soon add their voices to the chorus. The females, heavy with eggs at this time, enter the pond, and are grasped by the male. As they begin the process of laying the eggs, the males fertilize them, holding the female in an embrace until all the eggs have been laid.
Most of the eggs hatch in about 10 days, sometimes sooner if the temperature of the water is above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The tiny tadpoles rest for a few days, clinging to aquatic plants, receiving nourishment from the yolk sac stored in their bellies. As they develop in the pond, most of them eat aquatic plants, especially algae, as they develop.
Tadpoles have gills, similar to fish, covered and protected by a flap of skin. As they continue to develop, their hind legs form and grow. Then their tail begins to shrink and the front legs appear. Soon the gills are gone, and the tadpole begins to breathe air at the surface, with his brand new lungs. Soon after transforming into froglets or toadlets, they begin life out of the water and start eating insects. Growth takes place quickly.
Most of the enemies of frogs and toads are fish, turtles, snakes, birds and some carnivore mammals like shrews, minks and raccoons. Frogs jump far to try and escape a predator, but a toad cannot jump as fast as a frog. So a toad defends himself by producing toxic or unpleasant tasting skin secretions, which are released when an animal is seized. Because of their bad flavor, toads are not a popular food among predators. Even their eggs and tadpoles are toxic.
Although frogs also have skin glands which cause them to have a bad flavor, the secretions are not as strong as those of toads. So, of course, frogs are eaten by a much larger variety of predators.
People are generally not affected when these secretions get on their skin. However, if they rub their eyes right after handling a toad or frog, a very nasty burning sensation will be experienced. So always wash your hands after you handle a toad or frog. But the age-old myth that toads can cause warts is not true!
Both toads and frogs are a valuable part of our outdoor heritage. They control insects, entertain us with their voices, and are food for a number of animals and birds!