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  • Molly Weinfurter

Toad vs Frog: What’s the Difference?

Updated: Jun 5

Toads and frogs have very similar characteristics. They’re both small and slimy while also being known for hopping. These two amphibians may be more similar than we realize, but there are still distinct differences between the two. So, when it comes to a toad vs a frog, what’s the difference?


What is a Toad vs Frog?

Both toads and frogs are types of amphibians, but what many people don’t realize is that toads are a type of frog. So, all toads are frogs but not all frogs are toads. If you refer to a toad as a frog, you’re not technically wrong, but toads have unique characteristics from other frog species.


In general, toads have thicker, bumpier skin than frogs, and they don’t swim like most frogs do. Yet, those differences are only the surface. Keep reading to see more details about how to distinguish a toad from the average frog.


toad under blade of grass

Differences Between Frogs vs Toads

There are lots of ways to identify a toad versus a frog. Below are some categories that help animal lovers better understand the difference.


Skin Texture

Frogs are known for their smooth, slimy skin, but toads typically have thicker, rougher, and bumpier skin. The lumps on toad skin are often referred to as warts, but that’s inaccurate. These bumps are a natural part of their skin and will not give you warts, despite the popular myth. Toads have larger bumps right behind their eyes, which are glands that secrete foul-tasting substances to deter predators from hunting them.


Moisture

Due to the skin differences, frogs and toads feel different when it comes to moisture. All amphibians need to keep their skin somewhat moist, but toads don’t need to be kept in as damp of an environment as other frogs. 


Frogs have thin skin that lets them easily absorb moisture. However, toads have denser skin so they can hold onto water for longer to help them survive in drier habitats. Toad bellies are the softest part of their bodies, so that’s where they usually absorb moisture from. Overall, toads are not as moist and slimy as other types of frogs are.


Habitat

The main reason toad skin is so much different than other frog skin is because they’re built to survive in different environments. Toads usually live fully on land because their skin can hold moisture longer than other frogs. Frogs with more sensitive skin usually live in or near bodies of water so they can easily rehydrate as needed.


Unless you live right next to a body of water, you’re more likely to find toads in your yard than other frogs because they can travel much further from water.


Leg Length

Toads typically have shorter hind legs than other frogs. Since they can release substances that deter predators, they don’t need to escape quickly when there’s danger. So, their little legs allow them to make small hops to easily move around at a leisurely pace. 


Other frogs have long back legs, allowing them to leap long distances to quickly escape predators. Frogs especially use their long legs to jump into a nearby lake/pond if they sense danger.


frog clinging to branch

Eyes

While both frogs and toads have large eyes, toads typically have slightly smaller ones. Frog eyes stick out of their heads much more than toad eyes do.


Poison

All toads are poisonous, meaning they’re severely dangerous if ingested. However, that’s not true for all frogs. A toad’s toxicity protects them from predators and makes up for them not being able to jump long distances to escape threats. Touching a toad is rarely dangerous, but their toxins can sometimes irritate human skin. It’s always a good idea to wash your hands after touching a toad just to be safe.


Vocalization

Every frog makes unique sounds, especially when looking for a mate. However, toads often stand out from other frogs. Toads typically let out abrupt trill sounds by filling their throats with air. Other frogs make more melodious songs by using the vocal sacs on the sides of their heads. Both frogs and toads make brief croaks and chirps occasionally.


Eggs

Both frogs and toads lay their eggs in the water, but the process differs. Most frogs lay gelatinous groups of eggs under the water’s surface by attaching them to plants. However, toads lay eggs in strands that float on top of the water.


Tadpoles

Frog and toad eggs both become tadpoles once they hatch. The appearance of frog tadpoles vs toad tadpoles varies greatly depending on the species, but the main difference is that toads stay in their tadpole stage for much less time than frogs. Toad tadpoles often turn into tiny frogs after only a few days since toads sometimes lay their eggs in puddles. Frog tadpoles typically take a few months to move onto land, but some can take as long as two years.


Can Frogs and Toads Be Pets?

Certain species of frogs and toads can be pets. Some of the most common frogs as pets are Australian green tree frogs, Amazon milk frogs, Pacman frogs, and African dwarf frogs. 


While pet frogs can be adorable, it’s important to note that they’re good pets for admiring, but not for touching. Frogs have sensitive skin and should be handled as little as possible. So, if you’re looking for an animal you can hold and pet, amphibians aren’t the right pets for you.


Also, before you get a frog as a pet, do your research. Learn more about the specific breed and their care requirements. Make sure you have everything prepared in advance before bringing a frog home.


Toad close up

Frequently Asked Questions


Can Frogs Breathe Underwater?

Adult frogs have lungs and cannot breathe underwater. However, they can stay underwater for as long as a few months when they go into hibernation. As tadpoles, they have gills, allowing them to breathe underwater until they go through metamorphosis. 


What Do Frogs Eat?

Frogs typically eat insects, worms, and slugs. Some frogs use their long tongues to catch prey while others hide in dark areas and grab prey when it passes.


Can Toads Swim?

Toads can’t swim like other frogs can. However, they still need to stay moist, so they will hang out in shallow water and lay their eggs in water.


Will Toads Give You Warts?

No, toads cannot give you warts. The bumpy skin texture of toads may look like they’re covered in warts, but those are natural parts of the skin, not warts.


How Long Do Frogs Live?

It depends on the frog species and the environment. Frogs in the wild typically only live a few years while pet frogs could live 10 to 20 years with proper care.


green frog sitting on tree

Toads are Frogs, But Not All Frogs are Toads

A frog vs toad isn’t a huge difference since toads are a type of frog. Yet, there are plenty of characteristics that make toads stand out from other types of frogs. Next time you stumble across a hopping amphibian in the while, take a closer look to see if they’re a toad or a frog.


However, when you see a wild frog or toad, it’s best to leave them be and not pick them up. Amphibians are sensitive creatures, and as cute as they are, it’s safest for them if you leave them alone. Admire them from afar instead.

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