Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Rufus from Hollywood, CA. Rufus Wonders, “How are frogs and toads different?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Rufus!
Today's curious question doesn't have an easy answer. Although many people believe that frogs and toads are completely different creatures, the truth is a bit more complicated.
Scientists classify animals and plants based on various characteristics. Frogs and toads are both members of the same class — Amphibia — which means that they're both amphibians.
Amphibians are cold-blooded vertebrates that spend the early part of their lives in water (breathing with gills) and the rest of their lives on land (breathing with lungs).
Moreover, frogs and toads are also both members of the same order — Anura — which means that they're closely related and share many similar characteristics.
There are hundreds of individual species of frogs and toads within the Anura order. However, the many species within the Anura order can appear quite different, leading people to believe that toads and frogs aren't the same.
The popular distinction drawn between frogs and toads is probably best viewed as a distinction between true "frogs" (members of the Ranidae family) and true "toads" (members of the Bufonidae family). The Ranidae family contains more than 400 species of frogs, while the Bufonidae family contains more than 300 species of toads.
Frogs can look and act quite differently from toads. Here are some of the differences you may notice:
- Need to live near water to survive.
- Have smooth, moist skin that may look or seem slimy.
- Have a narrow body with round eyes that bulge.
- Have long hind legs that help them take long, high jumps.
- Have many predators.
- Don't need to live near water to survive.
- Have rough, dry, bumpy skin.
- Have a wide body with oval eyes that don't bulge as much as frogs' eyes.
- Have short hind legs that allow them to take small hops rather than jumps.
- Don't have many predators because their skin has a bitter taste and smell that deters predators.
Before you become too confident in your ability to distinguish frogs from toads, though, remember that these differences don't hold true across all species.
In fact, certain species can fit into both categories. For example, it's possible to find a frog with bumpy skin or even a slimy toad!
Near the equator, frogs and toads can look quite similar. Sometimes, the only way to tell them apart is to look inside them at things like their teeth and bones. Good luck catching them, though!
If you do happen to catch a frog or a toad to get a closer look, don't worry about getting warts on your hands. Neither frogs nor toads will give you warts.
That's just a myth that probably came about because of the bumpy skin common to many toads. A toad's bumps aren't really warts. They're a special adaptation that helps it blend into its environment.