Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Ernest from Crestview, FL. Ernest Wonders, “Do toads give you warts?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Ernest!
As we were hiking through the Wonderopolis swamp the other day, we overheard an interesting conversation between a frog and a toad, both resting on lily pads:
Frog: Hey Toad! Did you see that brother and sister playing on the bank the other day?
Toad: Howdy Frog! Yes, I got an up-close look at them, unfortunately. The boy grabbed me!
Frog: My word! What did you do to get away?
Toad: I didn't have to do anything! His sister told him I'd give him warts, so he dropped me!
Frog: Warts? I've never heard of such a thing!
Toad: Me either! What nonsense! I laughed so hard I thought I would croak!
Even though the toad may have never heard of the connection between toads and warts, most of our Wonder Friends probably have. At one time or another, you've probably heard or been told not to pick up a toad, because it'll give you warts. But is there any truth to this old adage?
We're happy to report — to the great joy of toad lovers everywhere — that it's nothing more than a myth that you can get warts from picking up a toad. We're not saying it's a good idea to tote toads around on a regular basis, but you won't get warts if you do so.
Where did this toad-ally untrue myth get its start? No one knows for sure, but it's fairly easy to guess. Many species of toads have rough bumps on their skin. People often think they look like warts and fear they could be contagious, if touched. There's even a type of toad that was named Warty Toad in English, the Rhinella spinulosa species.
Those bumps on toads aren't warts. They're actually glands that make and release toxins that help toads defend themselves from predators. Exactly how toxic these secretions are varies by species of toad. In any case, it's probably best not to disturb a toad if you're not familiar with it.
If toads aren't responsible for warts, then what is? Warts are actually caused by viruses from the human papillomavirus (HPV) family. They're small skin infections that resemble small, hard bumps with a rough surface.
Anyone — young or old — can get warts, but they're more common in younger children. They can appear anywhere, but they're found most often on fingers, hands, and feet. They can be passed from one person to another by close physical contact.
Some people never get warts, while others seem prone to getting them. Scientists believe the likelihood of getting warts depends on an individual's immune system. They're usually painless. One exception is plantar warts on the soles of the feet. These can be very painful, since they can make it feel like you're walking on small rocks.
Unfortunately, there's no way to prevent warts. If you get a wart, it will usually go away on its own over time. There are a variety of over-the-counter medicines that can be used to treat warts and make them go away more quickly. If you ever get a wart that causes serious pain, though, you should consult a doctor.