Frogs and toads have a lot in common. They are both amphibians in the order Anura, which means “without a tail.” Toads are a sub-classification of frogs, meaning that all toads are frogs, but not all frogs are toads. They both reproduce in water, and they even look alike.
It can be pretty easy to get them mixed up, so here are some hints to help you tell frogs (family Ranidae) and toads (family Bufonidae) apart.
Both frogs and toads live near ponds, swamps, and marshes. Frogs can live on the ground or in trees. But toads live only on the ground.
Both frogs and toads have stubby front legs, but frogs have slimmer bodies and longer hind legs. These limbs are especially good for leaping from tree to tree and for swimming.
Frogs usually have webbed hind feet, and some have webbed front feet. Toads have shorter hind legs, good for hopping around on the ground or walking and crawling. They are a bit slower and less active than frogs. Most toads don’t have webbed feet or sticky toe pads. They move by a series of short hops on land.
Frog skin is usually smooth and moist. Toad skin is drier and bumpier. The bumps look like warts and feel rough to the touch.
Frogs lay eggs in bunches, or clusters, which have a jelly-like substance around them. Toads lay their eggs in lines or strands on the leaves of plants that live in the water.
These are the basic differences between frogs and toads, but things can still get confusing! The Zoo houses Panamanian golden frogs in the Main Building, and although they have frog in their name, they are actually toads!
However, for the most part, these guidelines will help you distinguish between the two types of amphibians.
—Kellee Wolowitz, Zoologist