What is the difference between a frog and a toad?
Volunteer content writer
You’d be forgiven for getting two of our most charismatic species, the frog and the toad, mixed up. These land and water-dwelling creatures begin to stir when spring rolls around, hopping out of hibernation and heading to their breeding pools to mate. But how do you tell them apart?
While these little amphibians might look very similar at first glance, there are actually a plethora of key differences between them. Read on to find out the differences between frogs and toads.
Frog or toad: how to tell the difference
If there was ever a tell-tale sign to indicate which amphibian you are looking at, it’s the texture of their skin. Toads are warty-looking, covered in little lumps and bumps, while frogs are sleek and smooth. Toads also virtually always have dry skin, whereas frogs look wet even when they are out of the water.
If you’ve spotted an amphibian making its way along a pavement or ambling through some grass, chances are it’s a toad. Toads cope much better with dry conditions than frogs, as their skin is more waterproof. Frogs lose moisture a lot more easily, and so are rarely seen too far away from water, which explains why they always look moist.
Frogs have long legs, longer than their head and body, which are made for hopping. Toads, on the other hand, have much shorter legs and prefer to crawl around rather than hop.
Credit: Margaret Welby / Alamy Stock Photo
Credit: Naturepix / Alamy Stock Photo
Frogs are lithe and athletic-looking, whereas toads are somewhat squat and dumpy. Their faces are different too; frogs have a pointed nose while toad noses are much broader.
Spawn is another key indicator for which species you’re looking at. Frog spawn is laid in gooey clumps, whereas toad spawn floats in stringy lengths.
Credit: Doug Mccutcheon / Alamy Stock Photo
Credit: Linda Pitkin / naturepl.com
Like their adult counterparts, frog tadpoles are slimmer whereas toad tadpoles are chunky. Frog tadpoles are also covered in gold flecks, while toad tadpoles are plain black in colour.
Credit: Larry Doherty / Alamy Stock Photo
Credit: DP Wildlife Vertebrates / Alamy Stock Photo
Record frogspawn on Nature’s Calendar
The Nature’s Calendar project tracks the effects of weather and climate change on wildlife across the UK – its records date all the way back to 1736! First frogspawn is among over 150 wildlife events recorded for the project.
Join Nature’s Calendar to record your sightings - every record is crucial and valid. The data recorded helps us to better understand the effects of climate change and other patterns in the natural environment. By taking just a few minutes to share what you see, you'll be adding to hundreds of years' worth of important data. We couldn't do this work without you! Why not give it a go yourself?
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