Frogs and toads are easily misidentified and misunderstood. You can’t get warts from touching or kissing them, most are not poisonous, and they provide a number of important benefits. Let’s look at some of their similarities, differences and how you can take advantage of these useful amphibious creatures.
Frogs prefer to be in water, and spend most of their time on or near lakes and streams. The classic image of a frog on a lily pad is not all that far from reality, but they also hang out in and around cattails, downed trees, branches and in tall grass near the shore. There are a number of different species in North America that range from a few inches in length to almost a foot. They can be found in hot as well as cool climates, and they generally feed on insects, worms, spiders and small fish.
Frogs tend to be bigger than toads, and their legs are definitely longer and meatier. They tend to also have slimy, smooth skin do the mucous-like substance that covers their bodies. Another characteristic is how frogs lay their eggs. They tend to lay them in clumps that are connected by a membrane in the water.
Toads prefer to be on dry land but need also interact with water, just not to the degree as their frog cousins. They are commonly found in brush, grass, under leaves, in compost piles or mulch. They are also nocturnal, spending most of the day sleeping and night hunting, eating and mating. Most toads are smaller than frogs, and they also have different skin characteristics. They tend to have dry and harder skin that have bumps or wart-like structures as well as spines. They also feed on insects.
Toads in North America are generally not poisonous, but there are some species in Central and South America that can kill a human if eaten. Some also excrete a toxic substance as a defense mechanism to keep predators at bay, and these can cause illness or death in humans as well. As a general rule, and to avoid confusion, bright and colorful toads should be considered poisonous whereas the average “bland” colored ones are okay. Toads are also different than frogs in terms of how they lay their eggs. Their eggs are joined together in strings or strands instead of clumps.
Both frogs and toads, with few exceptions are nutritious and healthy forms of protein and omega 3 fatty acids. Both don’t have a very strong or distinctive flavor, especially when cooking them with garlic, onions or spices. Frogs by far are more popular, probably because of their size and the amount of meat on their legs. However, you can skewer a bunch of toads and cook them on a grill or fire and eat them as well. Since they are both prevalent in the wild, they make a good option when fishing and hunting are not producing desired results.
Frogs and toads are also very helpful in the garden due to their voracious appetite for insects and grubs. They also don’t destroy crops, require minimal care and maintenance, and are very easy to introduce into your mini ecosystem. However, it’s important to make sure that there is a habitat conducive for their needs, including hibernation during the winter. They are also sensitive to certain types of chemicals and pesticides, so it’s important to ensure that your garden and yard are safe. It’s also important to use the right species based on your geography, available space and access to water.
They also need places to hide from predators such as cats, raccoons and possums. Frogs should be near a pond that is at least three feet deep with a bottom that is covered in a layer of silty muck. Toads will prefer to hibernate in mulch or compost piles in order to take advantage of the stable temperatures inside.
These are just a few examples of the amazing benefits of toads and frogs. Take time to learn about what amphibians are common in your area and discover how you can benefit from both eating them as well as having them around for pest control.