Can you tell the difference between a frog and a toad?

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.

Lemur leaf frog and Panamanian golden frog (actually a toad). Photo by Kellee Wolowitz

Lemur leaf frog and Panamanian golden frog (actually a toad). Photo by Kellee Wolowitz

Lemur leaf frogs. Photo by Kellee Wolowitz

Lemur leaf frogs. Photo by Kellee Wolowitz

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.

Green and black poison dart frog. Photo by Kellee Wolowitz

Green and black poison dart frog. Photo by Kellee Wolowitz

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.

Green and black dart frog. Photo by Kellee Wolowitz

Green and black dart frog. Photo by Kellee Wolowitz

Frog skin is usually smooth and moist. Toad skin is drier and bumpier. The bumps look like warts and feel rough to the touch.

Yellow banded dart frogs. Phone by Kellee Wolowitz

Yellow banded dart frogs. Phone by Kellee Wolowitz

African bullfrog. Photo by Kellee Wolowitz

African bullfrog. Photo by Kellee Wolowitz

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.

Green and black dart frog eggs on a leaf. Photo by Kellee Wolowitz

Green and black dart frog eggs on a leaf. Photo by Kellee Wolowitz

Green and black dart frog tadpoles developing inside eggs. Photo by Kellee Wolowitz

Green and black dart frog tadpoles developing inside eggs. Photo by Kellee Wolowitz

Panamanian golden frog (actually a toad) with eggs. Photo by John Adamski

Panamanian golden frog (actually a toad) with eggs. Photo by John Adamski

Panamanian golden frog tadpoles. Photo by Kellee Wolowitz

Panamanian golden frog tadpoles. Photo by Kellee Wolowitz

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.

Panamanian golden frog (actually a toad). Photo by Kellee Wolowitz

Panamanian golden frog (actually a toad). Photo by Kellee Wolowitz

—Kellee Wolowitz, Zoologist